On September 28, when the Lagos State Government, LASG, said it had employed no fewer than 80 women Bus Rapid Transit System, BRT, drivers, with its asset management company, the Lagos Bus Asset Management Company, LAGBUS, it was commended for its action, given the army of unemployed youths roaming the streets of Lagos in search of unavailable white-collar jobs. The state government had stated that this employment was part of its efforts to empower women in the state.
Lagos residents, however, have expressed reservations based on bad shape of many of BRT buses, which, as well as dearth of spare parts, has severally been blamed on the deplorable state of roads.
Speaking during the training for the fourth batch of LAGBUS captains, at the Public Service Public Service Staff Development Centre, PSSDC, Magodo, Lagos, the Managing Director, LAGBUS, Mr. Babatunde Disu, who disclosed that it has also commenced training of 998 LAGBUS drivers on accident prevention skills, reaffirmed its commitment to creating a modern, secure and sustainable bus transportation service designed for the special needs of Lagos, while also providing equal opportunities for the female gender.
The General Manager for fleet operation, LAGBUS, Mr. Seyi Osiyemi, who further explained the motive for the employment of the female drivers, said “We employed the female drivers to encourage the women who have interest in driving the LAGBUS buses.
“These 80 female have started their training on driving from the basics. These ladies do not have driving experience. We will first train them on how to drive cars. After that, they will graduate to smaller buses; after which they will learn how to drive the big bus.
“We expect this process to take between three to six months. The ultimate plan is to have them driving the LAGBUS, the red bus. It takes a lot of time for people to embrace it,” he said adding that “we had about 200 women who filled application forms, so we short-listed and started with these first 80. We are also recruiting more males because we are refurbishing 180 buses which will be added to the fleet.”
BRT lanes and operations
These female drivers Vanguard gathered, are expected to join their male counterparts to move more than 200,000 passengers daily, with the buses built to accommodate 46 sitting passengers and 36 standing, even though it has been currently abused by operators. They are also expected to ply at least 50 routes, in a 16-hour-operations from 6.00am to 10.00pm.
This is another major challenge for the newly employed female drivers, but since it has been argued that what men can do, women can do better, this very issue is however settled.
Reasons for the bad shape
Against the backdrop of complaints by commuters about the poor condition of BRT buses, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, had on September 22, 2013, said the reason why many of the BRT buses were in a very bad shape was because of the dearth of spare parts, which slows the pace of maintenance work on the buses.
Reacting to the commuters’ complaints, Opeifa, who however, expressed the state government’s commitment to putting in place a first-class transport system in the state so as to promote the people’s socio-economic activities had said: ‘’You know, we don’t manufacture buses and we don’t manufacture spares but we have acquired additional 50 buses. “Besides, Safest Way Transport in Agege has just acquired 10 more buses, while Mutual Transports in Ejigbo/Ikotun has also acquired another 30 buses. We have a total of about 80 to 90 new buses now, which will soon be introduced; we are also working hard with the operators to improve their capacity to fix their buses.
“The major problem is the issue of spare parts, which we don’t manufacture, but by and large, the operators can do better. We are working hard with the owners of those buses to ensure that they improve on the quality of their services,” he said.