TO commemorate the Workers’ Day, the Lagos State Government on May 1, 2019 launched new buses under the Bus Reform Initiative, BRI, on five major routes. Mr. Timi Olajide of the Lagos Bus Services Limited, operator of the buses, had disclosed that the 5,000 buses planned for the initiative will aid Lagos residents to plan their journeys. They will also provide comfort and safety for commuters.
These are really digital-age movers because each fully air-conditioned bus has six emergency exits and a first aid box, while every seat has a dedicated USB port for charging of phones, free Wi-fi, television and CCTV cameras.
At the commissioning ceremony conducted by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 24, 2019, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the projects will improve the lives of Lagos residents and contribute positively to the Nigerian economy. The idea of the Interchange is to transform Oshodi into a world-class Central Business District.
The interchange is expected to process about three million passengers per day when completed. About nine million residents use the existing antiquated transport system daily. The second terminal will be for the Bus Rapid Transit that will cater for passengers commuting from Oshodi to Abule Egba, Okokomaiko, LASU and others.
One important question here is: What are the conditions of the roads linking the Interchange and destinations of commuters, especially the majority who live in the suburbs? For almost two years now the construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway has been abandoned, leaving millions of people who use that international road in great agony and at the mercy of dangerous ditches, gullies and criminals.
The Lagos-Badagry Expressway abandonment and the feverish promotion of the Interchange reflects the political disharmony in the ruling party, which should not be so.
State-of-the-art terminals, shopping malls with 1,000 light effects to project the aesthetics of the Interchange as “an iconic area where people will want to take pictures” are all good. But the generally deplorable conditions of the adjoining roads and the potholes-infested inner city roads, will taint the glamour of the Oshodi Transport Interchange.
The vision behind the Interchange is commendable. But for it to be truly relevant to the city’s residents, there is a need for massive rehabilitation of major trunks and inner roads. Smooth road networks, a functional metro rail system, modernised water transportation and effective traffic management are the comprehensive solutions required to make Lagos a truly smart city-state.
For big cities like Lagos to work, there is a need for systematic and sustained amenities upgrades irrespective of regime or party in power. We hope the incoming government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu will connect the broken links between the regimes of his two immediate predecessors and balance the development of Lagos.