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Lagos State government transportation may receive more attention

Lagos State government transportation may receive more attention

The Lagos State Government is doing much in developing strategic transportation plans, but, according to experts, it has to do more to advance mobility in the megacity, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE

According to The Nation, there are indications that transportation may receive more attention from the Lagos State government.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the sector would get more attention in the remaining two years of his administration.

Changing the Lagos transportation narrative i.e. the predictable traffic gridlock was imperative.

Since assuming office, Ambode  has enhanced transportation systems, so profoundly that a teacher at the School of Transportation Studies, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewunmi, described it as, “beyond conceivable threshold”.

Odewunmi canvassed a robust intermodal system that would maximise the state’s massive investments on road, rail and water transportation.

In a paper titled: “Accelerating integrated transport system: rail, road and waterways,” which he delivered at the second Lagos Traffic Radio lecture, the professor said such development became imperative because Lagos’ population, which is 23 million, may witness more migration, especially because of  growing insecurity across the country.

He urged the governor to pursue three landmark projects — the Fourth Mainland Bridge, the take-off of Blue line light rail, and redesigning of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road, which Ambode plans to turn into a ten-lane masterpiece with two pedestrian bridges, laybys and slip roads. These, he described, as signature initiatives that would etch the administration’s name on the annals of the state’s transportation architecture.

Hailing the bus reforms which the governor earlier said would begin at the end of the year, Odewunmi, the Acting Dean of the School of Transportation, suggested that government should embark on massive enlightenment before its eventual rollout, engage transport unions in its running, and permit yellow buses operate the inner city roads, which the new buses may find uneconomical.

While the state said it intended a group franchise operation of 50, 100 and 200 operators in the 500 bus initiative, Odewunmi recommended the review to 10, 20, 30 and 40 owner-operators to discourage oligopoly and eventual gang up against the masses for fare or any other sundry reasons

He eulogised the government on its new number plate scheme, driver’s institute, construction of befitting bus terminals across the state and the consolidation of traffic radio, which, according to him, has redefined commuting patterns with Lagosians being briefed on traffic situations all the time.

On the state’s strides on the railway, Odewunmi wondered why the Blue Line, which is five years behind schedule, is being delayed. He urged the state to speed up action on the Red line (Agbado-Marina via Iddo and Murtala Muhammed Airport), Purple line (Redeemed Camp to Ojo), Orange lane (Redeemed Camp to Marina), Green lane (Marina to Lekki), Brown lane (Mile 12 to Marina), and Yellow lane (Otta to Iddo), all of which are meant to be delivered on Public Private Partnership (PPP) platform.

The rail, according to him would bring relief and remove traffic gridlocks by as much as 50 per cent.

While praising government’s giant strides in stimulating water transportation through investment in ferries and public, private partnership, Odewunmi said attention should be on reconstructing many  jetties and link them with road network to ease accessibility.

“Many jetties are decrepit and useful only for small local fishing and passenger services. Toilet and recreational facilities should be provided where they are presently non-existent and upgraded where they are in shambles. There should also be minimum standard established for the operators of eating joints at the jetties,” he said.

Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transportation, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who spoke on enabling law as catalyst for a vibrant transport sector, said lawmakers are ready to overhaul, repeal or amend laws impeding accelerated growth of the transportation sector, highlighting the repeal of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Act 1955.

Ashafa said besides the NRC Bill, passed by the senate last year, other bills before the National Assembly are The National Transport Commission Bill, 2015, National Roads Funds Bill 2015, Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2015, National Inland Waterways Authority Bill, 2015, and the Nigerian Ports and Harbours Authority Bill 2015.

According to him, what is happening at the centre and will happen across the states is the urgent need to address the legislative deficit in the area of transportation in order to create a level playing field for all entrants into the industry, leaving the government as the custodian of infrastructure and regulator of the economy.

LAMATA’s Managing Director, Abiodun Dabiri, who spoke on Lagos State Infrastructural Initiative: Executing the LAMATA mandate, said Lagos transportation was chaotic in the past because concentration was for close to 50 years on one mode- road, while the demand for transportation has exceeded the growth pattern.

The state’s Masterplan, designed up to 2032, he said, would address this skewed imbalance and ensure that all modes of transportation contribute massively to relieving the people of the hassles and strain of safe, affordable and reliable intermodal transportation in the state.

Dabiri said the attention is to move the state from being a megacity to operating as a smart city, deploying technology to drive connectivity across the state.

At the heart of the masterplan according to Dabiri, is a 25-point agenda that seek to make the transit system more attractive, convenient, affordable, accessible and reduce urban transportation induced emissions, optimising usage of current road netwoirk and integration of land use development (Urban Physical Planning) and Urban transport planning to achieve effective optimisation of transportation services.

The masterplan, according to him, recommends the development of six rail lines, one mono rail line, 14 BRT routes (the state is developing the second- Abule-Egba-Oshodi BRT lane), over 20 water routes, three cable cars and a reform of bus network as well as improving traffic management to ease traffic flow within the city.

The bus reform, he said, is part of the process of modernising the public transport system and ensure its integration with other modes of transportation.

The bus reform, according to him, is a three-year plan between 2017 to 2019, aimed at introducing 5,000 air conditioned buses to replace the yellow commercial buses, popularly known as Danfos, which according to him, no longer befits the state’s megacity status.

The modernised public transportation that would start, he said, would “effectively link people to jobs, deliver products to markets and support domestic and international trade. The quality of infrastructure, and the comprehensiveness of the transport network, will influence the role transport plays and its contribution to the functioning of a successful economy in Lagos State.

“In developing an integrated transport system for Lagos, there is the need to pursue a well-defined strategic plan of action driven by social and economic needs of Lagosians,”Dabiri said.

He revealed that as part of the initiatives, the agency would soon unveil a BRT mobile application (BRTmobileapp), which could be downloaded from Applestore and GoogleStore, where Lagosians could get on the spot information and updates on bus movements across the BRT routes and road networks.

He added that other transportation modes such as rail and water platforms would be added to the mobile app when they fully come on stream.

Added to this is the e-ticketing, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), and tracking, which would soon be deployed. Dabiri said Lagos is transiting and embracing smart, technology driven system that enhances livability index of the city.

While commending the state for its robust initiatives, Dr Joseph Shojobi, a transportation expert said government needs to develop new approaches that would ensure that fresh funds are attracted to ensure maintenance of the roads and the new buses.

Shojobi, 86, who retired from from the University of Lagos in 1976, in an interview last Friday, said beyond the budget, government must begin to think of ways of attracting road users to pay for road usage.

He recommended tolling of some of the roads. “Government,” he said, “must begin to consider dedicating amount collected from such tolls solely for road repairs.

Other avenues of fund that the government could introduce are vehicular related taxes or levies such as the mandatory Ministry of Transportation (MoT) vehicle inspection and testing certification to generate money all year round to repair, maintenance and reconstruction of road network in the state.

Managing Director of Planet Projects Biodun Otunola also praised the bus reform, which he said would take replace the old Yellow buses with modern, safe, affordable and more comfortable alternative.

Otunola sees transportation as a social service that the state should not shirk away from. He said with a modern comfortable alternative, more people, especially the business class, who have always shied away from patronising public transportation can begin to patronise it, thereby improving the longevity of the roads, improve the quality of life of the people.

Source: The Nation

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