A new public transportation system aimed at inching Lagos closer to what obtains in the advanced economies is rolling out in March this year, the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has confirmed.
Coming under the Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) of the state government, the system will be flagged off with 820 high and medium capacity air conditioned buses.
The state government intends to gradually scale up the buses to 5,000 as the system gains acceptability across the state.
The buses are coming with cameras, WiFi, USP point, televisions and specially fitted facilities for the physically challenged people.
Already, new bus terminals, bus stops and depots are being completed in different parts of the state metropolis where commuters will be expected to queue up to boarding and disembark from the buses.
To guarantee efficient and effective management and maintenance of the buses, system, an assembly plant is also being considered.
Ambode while inspecting some projects associated with the project on Thursday, said plans are being concluded to roll out the system in March
According to the governor, the initiative would redefine public transportation and make the state to be globally competitive.
He added that the initiative is designed to inject 5,000 buses, modern terminals, facilitate ease of mobility for residents and also rev up the economy of Lagos.
Inspecting the assembling plant at Awoyaya in Ibeju Lekki area of the state which is also serving as the temporary holding bay for 500 out of the 820 buses already acquired by the government, Ambode said the buses would be rolled out after the elections, while the next phase of the project would be to assemble the buses in Lagos.
“This is an assembling plant. The dream is that beyond the procurement of 820 buses by government, the next set of buses in the vision should be assembled in Lagos in this assembling plant and another one in Epe.
“That is the dream and the whole project is scalable and in this scale right now, we would run with the 820; you have seen the maintenance workshops and all that, and then the next scale which is the next phase is for Nigerians to be able to assemble the buses in Lagos and then we create employment opportunities and also allow the GDP of Lagos to grow.
The buses are ready and we think with everything we have done, we should be able to roll out these buses maybe immediately after the elections,” he said.
The governor noted that though the 5, 000 buses would not be enough for the state, but the government was showing the way and creating the right atmosphere to allow the private sector come in and participate in the whole arrangement.
“What has happened is that government has gone ahead to procure these buses using its funds and the buses are being owned by a government company called Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL).
So, the LBSL will lease these buses to operators who would use the three depots at Oshodi, Anthony and Yaba to ensure that the buses are sustained and maintained properly so that they don’t get wasted before their lifespan expires.
“The idea is if we are able to show good example of which we have procured these buses with our own money, the private sector can join hands with us and start to procure those additional buses that will take it to 5,000, while government can also procure more and by so doing, we would have had assembling plant in Lagos and create job opportunities for our people.
“By the time you put these buses on the road, it will create jobs for drivers, engineers, technicians, and so on, thereby growing the economy of Lagos coming from the transport sector in addition to 100 bus stops being constructed simultaneously across the State with attendant positive impact on the economy.
So, the idea is create jobs, grow the economy, make the city to be globally competitive and then make life comfortable for the people,” he said.
The bus depots are equipped with facilities such as depot office, dormitory, 30,000 litres underground tank, 30, 000 litres overhead tank, automated and elevated car wash, toilets, fuel dump, utility buildings and central workshop housing spare parts and operational offices, as well as equipment for the maintenance of the buses.
The 820 buses, which have already been delivered, are equipped with cameras, USB point, internet, television, and special spaces for physically challenged, pregnant women and the aged, among others.