Opinion (10/3/17) – Ambode: Goodbye to dare-devil danfos? by Ayo Oyoze Baje
Governor Ambode’s futuristic approach to governance in critical areas such as security, infrastructural development, education, healthcare delivery, transportation and the entertainment/tourism sector over the past two years has endeared him to the hearts of millions of Nigerians, at home and abroad. Given the praise-worthy achievements of his predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, in several facets of the state the question on the lips of the electorate back in 2015 was what new strategy Ambode would bring to the leadership table.
As if fully aware of this he gave a warning signal, in response during his crowd-pulling electioneering campaign, with the moving mantra: “Eko se se bere ni o, Ambooo!” This literally meant that the development of the Centre of Excellence was only beginning a new phase. And that he was going to up the ante on the foundation laid by the likes of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Fashola. Interestingly, within that short span of two years Lagos has attained the enviable status of the 5th largest economy on the African continent and one of the 100 most resilient. It is no mean achievement. Yet, the state government cannot rest on its oars.
What with a huge population of about 21 million people, increasing every blessed day by an estimated 123,000 people or 86 immigrants every minute of the day –the highest in any city in the world ,transportation has become an escalating challenge.
In specific terms transport network in the state is predominantly road- based, with 90% of total passengers and goods moved through that mode. The state has natural water ways for ferry services and federal rail network which will be complemented by the emerging state rail network. The demand for trips in the Lagos megacity region by all modes (including walking) was estimated at 22million per day with walk trips accounting for 40% of total trips in metropolitan Lagos as at mid- 2016.
According to the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, 2015 the mode of movement of passengers per day on percentage basis was given as: Walking 8,800,000 (40%), Bus Rapid Transit 90,000 (0.41%), Regulated bus (LAGBUS) 150,000 (1%), Private Cars 2,508,000 (11%) and Semi-Formal Mini Buses (Danfos) 9,982,000 (45%).Others include Federal Mass Transit Train 132,000 (1%), Water Transportation System 74,000 (0.34%), Non-data Modes (including, motorcycle, tricycle, bicycle, taxis, articulated vehicles, mini-vans and boats) 264,000 1%. This data was based on the Total Passengers Traffic/Day of 22, 000, 000 100. The commuter situation as at 2017 would no doubt be on the upswing.
It is in response to this and the exasperating traffic gridlock on busy highways that some roundabouts were done away with. Furthermore, his administration has employed the Urban Renewal and Regeneration Strategy to build modern bridges. These are strategically located at Aboru, Abule-Egba and the Lekki-Ajah axis. Similarly, Ambode has commissioned the 15km bridge stretching from Badagry to the tourist haven of the Whispering Palms. In addition is the clean-up of the water front from Epe to Badagry and showcasing the Master Plan for the rapid urban transformation of Epe and Ikorodu.
With this integrated approach the introduction of modern buses to replace the ubiquitous danfos is another right step in the right direction. Tagged the Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) the government is to introduce over 5,000 air-conditioned buses to replace the danfos between 2017 and 2019. While the big buses would take 70 people the medium ones would accommodate 30 passengers. The latter is to make up 70 per cent of the buses bringing the total number to3,600 units.
On funding this laudable project, the governor recently explained that the government has targeted N30 billion to start the initiative. It already has a sum of N14.5billion as part of the payment from the Paris Club loan through the federal government. By the time the second batch of that is paid by April the government will add N1bn to complete the projected fund. All these are commendable. But there is still more to be done.
For instance, the question on the lips of Lagosians is how the mass of drivers and touts to be laid off by the BRI would be absorbed into the labour market. There is the need for sustained re-orientation of the masses, including the transporters and commuters and linkage with the former to engage them on the modalities for their involvement. One hopes that the public would be fully enlightened on related new traffic rules.
Lessons should be learnt from London that has an extensive and developed transport network which includes both private and public services. Journeys made by public transport systems account for 25% while private services accounts for 41% of journeys. London’s public transport network serves as the central hub for the United Kingdom in rail, air and road transport.
Public transport services are dominated by the executive agency for transport in London: Transport for London (TfL). This controls the majority of public transport, including the Underground, Buses, Tramlink, the Docklands Light Railway, London River Services and the London Overground
For New York, the largest and most important of the transport system is the Metropolitan Transportation https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/generic-viagra/ Authority (MTA), a public benefit corporation in the state of New York. This runs all of the city’s subways and buses and two of its three commuter rail network. Commuters are aware of the system right from the point of entry to exit.
As Nigerians, and especially the good people of Lagos wait for the take off of BRI, many feel it would be a great idea to do away with dare-devil danfos for their comfort and convenience. Having literally seen it all from the wooden trucks through bolekajas to molues, danfos and BRT buses what matters is safety and affordability. Consigning the ramshackle, smoke-belching and sometimes stuffy danfos with their reckless drivers and their tactless touts to the dustbin of history is a most welcome development.
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