BY ADEKUNLE ADEKOYA

THIS is the third instalment of a series begun a month ago on the above subject. The discourse began after a team from ICT transnational, IBM, presented a proposal the Lagos State Government on how a more efficient traffic flow can be achieved in the metropolis.

Working with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, the agency responsible for developing and implementing the state’s transportation blueprint, and the Lagos State Ministries of Transportation, Works & Infrastructure, Science & Technology, the IBM team proposed technology-driven strategies to make travel easier.

As if on cue, LAMATA (Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority) from yesterday began implementation of e_ticketing option as part of ongoing re_structuring of BRT’s operations and management aimed at enhancing effectiveness.

Point of Sales, POS, facilities
Point of Sales, POS, facilities

Dr. Dayo Mobereola, LAMATA’s supremo said the e_ticketing payment was a solution through a card called ‘Lagos Connect,’ and would offer commuters several options, saying, “with the e-payment system, Lagos Connect, commuters in Lagos will pay as low as N20 per trip instead of N70. They would not need to struggle for change or lose their money, and the system is safe and convenient.”

Good deal, though. As far as the monetary end of BRT’s operations are concerned, this is a welcome solution, but that is where, in my take, the smartness of Lagos transport system ends. As noted earlier last week, to make the city smart entails a lot more work, at a more furious pace than is currently evident. First, this involves a rapid transformation of the road network.

There are thousands of feeder roads in the city which nobody would put a donkey on, talk less a car, and these roads connect various communities across many LGAs and LCDAs in Lagos. For instance, it should be possible to drive from, say Abule-Egba to Igando without using both the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and the Isheri-LASU-Iba Expressway, but that is not possible, now. It is non-availability of relief through such feeder roads that currently make the Lagos-Badagry Expressway a traffic nightmare.

If you are not on the expressway, you are just not ready to move. Many roads have not been constructed perhaps of the cost of bridges they will need to connect the next area, and this is something that has to be tackled. When a good number of the roads are made, ferry stations abound, including metro right to the airport and linking most of the entry and exit points into the city, we can then move into making the system smart.

But I suspect that efforts to make the transport system in Lagos smart and people-friendly will not go a long way unless the transport unions either have a change of heart from the rule-of-the-jungle format, or they get taken out of the picture completely. Getting them to change or taking them out of the picture will require very strong political will, but it must be done.

The other angle to this is law-enforcement. Presently there are so many uniforms of different colours at every bus stop, controlling traffic. This is good, except that the traffic still won’t move, while traffic lights work only where it is desired. These need to be addressed, because they are inapposite to a smart city, where uniforms are less in evidence and facilities do more of traffic control.

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