BRT: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
The Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has commissioned the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme introduced by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Agency (LAMATA), but the aftermaths that trail the advent of the scheme are rather becoming nauseating and mind-bugling for every average inhabitant of Lagos state.
Before the advent of the scheme, Nigeria's largest commercial city was bedeviled with the problem of transportation, which encompasses frequent and consistent traffic congestion; irritating, undeserving and unexplainable high transport fares; occasional ritualists kidnappings; highway thieves etc. These have made the transportation sector of the state a major 'enemy' of development to be embattled by the state government. Hence, the stance to give an absolute succor to the problem of transportation resulted into the introduction of the BRT.
Commuters of Lagos roads heaved heavy sighs of relief subsequent to the commissioning of the scheme with the minds that their days of transportation problems are over. Basically, the BRT is described to be convenient, price-constant and fast as coyingly devised by the state government.
Apart from the benefits attributed to the BRT, private-owned cars can now ply the Lagos expressways conveniently even without the fear of being held up in traffic congestion since the commercial commuter buses have been restricted from plying the expressways.
In contrast to the benefits, which the BRT portends, one of the reasons to which the BRT was established-traffic decongestion, is now a major problem for commercial commuter buses. These buses are restricted to only the service lanes, which have been demarcated to be shared by the BRT buses. Hence, very long traffic congestion is often experienced during the day by these buses. This is owed to the fact that some of them engage in waiting to offload and engage passengers. One would find it annoying spending close to an hour during the day while moving from Mile 12 to Ojota using the commercial commuter buses.
The traffic wardens could do little to forcefully control the 'molue' and 'danfo' buses to dissuade them from waiting at the bus stop since they still engage in collecting illegal N20 due from these buses. Also, the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) officials who were previously saddled with the responsibility of ensuring traffic-free roads are now behooved with the major function of ensuring that the BRT lanes and expressways are not plied by commercial commuter buses. They are always on the look out for defaulters in order for such offender to pay a heavy fine.
Although it's a good thing that the BRT has constancy of price, there still needs to be reconsideration and adjustment of price. For instance, the transport fare from Mile 12 to any part of Ojota, Ketu, Fadeyi, Obanikoro, Palmgroove etc. is N50. But why should the transport fare from Ojota to Ketu and vice versa be N50, which is same to the transport fare of Mile 12 to Palmgroove? This price is relatively high compared to the price attached by the commercial commuter buses. However, if one decides to opt for the commercial buses, one should be ready to spend extra minutes while on the search for a bus since the LASTMA officials do not permit these buses to stop at points where the BRT lanes and the service lanes merge.
Furthermore, the long traffic congestion experienced by the commercial buses is a blessing in disguise for road herbal drugs marketers and sellers who massively besiege the held up buses to advertise their self-made or acclaimed company-made products. Unfortunately for the passengers, they tend to lose their hard-earned money to the fake, expired and adulterated products sold by these sweet and smooth-talking marketers.
By: Olufemi Samuel
Samuel Writes from Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.