By Bose Adelaja
Lagosians have witnessed different public bus transportation systems but none had before now met their expectation and lasting satisfaction. Among the commercial bus types that have come and gone over the years are the Lagos City Transport Services, LCTS, the large ubiquitous Lagos yellow buses popularly called Molue, the civilian coaster buses and the mini-Molue type popularly called Faka.
But the situation took a turn for the better with the introduction of the Buses Rapid Transit, BRT, in March 24, 2008 to be operated by the National Union and Road Transport Workers, NURTW, cooperative.
However, the joy this brought was short-lived as the law of diminishing return soon set in as BRT services are no longer regarded as being very satisfactory, while the operators betray a lack of efficiency and maintenance culture. This has left most commuters rueing the inability of government to compel operators to sustain the standard recorded at inception.
The initial success of the, BRT, paved way for the LAGBUS scheme to come on stream in order to ease public transport in the state. LAGBUS is an Asset Management Company owned by the Lagos State government.
Both the BRT and the LAGBUS were enthusiastically welcomed by most commuters in Lagos as they were regarded as a decent and very convenient departure from the existing bus systems that were anything but decent. The buses soon became regular or common features on such routes as Mile Twelve enroute CMS via Ikorodu Road, Obalende to Ketu and Ikorodu, CMS enroute Oshodi, Mile Two enroute CMS, Oshodi to Agbado-Ijaye-Tollgate, to mention just a few.
In view of this huge experimental success, the Federal Government in the course of announcing the withdrawal of subsidy from the price of fuel introduced a new transport scheme to serve as a palliative measure to cushion the effect of the subsidy withdrawal on the citizens.
The BRT and LAGBUS schemes were planned to render effective and decent services to the public from inception, a reason for which hawking, preaching or constituting public nuisance in the buses were prohibited.
But what obtains presently is that preaching and hawking have become the norm in many of these buses.
Vanguard Metro, VM, can confirm this to be the case after a recent ride in one of these buses plying the Oshodi/Mile Two route. During the ride in the bus with plate number KSF 53 FA and an inscription No 39, a preacher was soon heard shouting Praise the Lord! to which some passengers responded with a resounding Halleluyah! The preacher wearing a vest which identified him as a member of the Chosen Generation Church was the centre of attention in the bus until he alighted at Ijesha bus-stop.
Surprisingly, the driver of the LAGBUS suddenly stopped on the middle of the road at Cele Bus-stop and jumped down from the bus to fight a road user and this lasted for about 10 minutes even as the preaching continued.
Also on May 25 and June 11, 2012 , a similar occurrence took place in a LAGBUS with plate number EPE19XA and inscription No 43. This time around, the preacher was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Mission and his preaching caused an uproar as he condemned Islam as a religion and some of the commuters loudly condemned his preaching, almost resorting to violence. It took the timely intervention of some elders to quell the crisis.
Some commuters in Ikorodu complained of poor services of the buses plying routes in the area. A major complaint was that once it is 7.15pm, the drivers usually refuse to operate the Oshodi to Ikorodu route.
Other complaints border on the rude behaviour of ticket sellers at the BRT terminus at Mile Twelve and their extortionist demand that commuters pay an extra N20 to purchase a N120 bus ticket.
Apart from that, the buses are deemed as not properly maintained and look dirty in most cases. To make matters worse, the drivers park them indiscriminately, there by causing unnecessary gridlock. This they do with great impunity and disdain as if they are above the law.
Meantime, some of the BRT shelters have collapsed and remain umkept,with commuters now falling victim to robberies as there are no adequate security measures put in place there.
This has almost defeated the purpose of this service as it is expected to render corporate services,” said Mrs Iyabo Ayinde, a commuter who joined the bus at Fadeyi.
Also, there is no regulation of commuters in the bus as it is usually filled to the brim which results to overloading and this counters the passenger installed capacity which may have adverse effect on both the vehicles, workers and commuters.