Years ago when BRT berthed, Lagosians especially those on the Lagos- Ikorodu road axis down to Western Avenue were exceedingly glad with the hope that a huge relief has come in the transportation sector but it seems the Lagos State Government is getting it wrong in almost all angles, ranging from a systematic extortion of Lagosians through Land Use Charge(LUC), the unprofessional manner of waste management at Olusosun waste site and most recently the breakdown of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.
I will not waste my precious time to dwell on the much debated LUC as it is obvious that The Lagos State Government knows the planned final bus stop she is headed to as the reduction of the LUC does not seem to make sense to the masses.
The Lagos State Government fails to realise that the poor masses will bear the brunt because some of the Almighty Lagos LandLord will use the opportunity to increase rents in the name of increased LUC.
To the Olusosun scenario, the popular refuse dump site where the welcome to Lagos perfume is perceived, was recently set on fire most irrationally without considering the effect it will cause on lives and properties.
There were news that asthmatic patients within the environ were suffocated due to the thick fumes that emanated, houses affected as the State Government unprofessionally tried to get rid of the waste.
Most annoying was when I saw read that the Lagos State Government has given residents around the Olusosun dumpsite the relocation order. My question at this point is where should they relocate to? Now to the failing transport system.
Lagosians are beginning to wonder the sort of services PRIMEROŽ, (The Company Managing the BRT Transport System) seems to be offering especially after they (PRIMERO) have succeeded in deceiving and convincing The State Government to see reasons with them why the fare should be reviewed upward but despite this upward review, Lagosians paid in pain with the hope that an increment in fare will ordinarily translate into better services.
That has never been the case!
Last week (March 14th 20th, 2018) The BRT Ticketters as they are popularly called were off and on around major BRT Shelters (Ikorodu, Agric, Ketu, Ojota, Anthony, Fadeyi, Costain and TBS) where huge passenger normally converge waiting to be commuted but waited in vain.
To this end, some inquisitive passengers like me decided to enquire from a particular Ticketter that was offering skeletal services at Ikorodu and I asked what could be responsible for all these poor serveices?
He said they have not been paid their monthly salaries coupled with the fact that there were no enough buses on ground and so to avoid the situation where passengers will be stranded after they must have bought their tickets and waiting endlessly, they decided not to sell tickets except when they (Ticketters) sight buses going to particular route, then they will come out of their hiding places and sell tickets.
I further asked why is it that there are no much buses operating?
He said they are out of diesel and it was alleged that PRIMERO is yet to settle their diesel suppliers, by this PRIMERO is forced to purchase diesel from private diesel station very close to their operational office at Majidun along Ikorodu road.
This to me was a disgusting tale when I heard it. A transportation company that cannot operate a simple re-ordering level system is not worth the right of monopoly.
While on queue at the Ketu Shelter waiting for a bus to commute us (passengers) inward Ikorodu, it was alleged among some passengers that PRIMERO runs a central revenue account managed by one individual who withdraws and pays suppliers, apparently this fellow travelled out of the country without settling the outstanding debts owed to suppliers and this resulted why BRT buses were seen purchasing diesel from private diesel station close to their operational office at Majidun while passenger are on queue waiting at different Shelters. What a shame! If they had diesel, why were these BRT buses seen purchasing diesel from a private station?
For the past two weeks, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), the 20th and last BRT Shelter inward Marina has always been a place of shame such that during peak hours, workers intending to return to their respective homes are seen stranded, waiting for the so called BRT buses to commute them to their respective homes but the more they wait, the more the pain, respite could come after four to five hours of waiting and at this time the very wise passengers would have defined his/her square root within the hours.
When the Ambo Government assumed power, They immediately scrapped the Babatunde Raji Transport (BRT) system operated and managed by LAMATA/NURTW and the present Lagos State Government brought in private operators called PRIMERO.
At this point we thought it was a new dawn in Lagos State Transportation system as the former was bedeviled with maladministration and huge corruption, but little did we know that the worm that ate the former is still on ground to eat the present as most of the BRT buses are presently lacking proper maintenance. No wonder the popular saying “The worm that eats up the vegetable dwells in it.
In other climes, citizens are usually proud to use public transportation system to work place so as to manage the stress of driving, manage long distant trip, safety issues , contribute to reducing traffic by dropping off their cars at home as well as to manage cost among other reasons but the BRT scenario in Lagos Nigeria seems to be far apart in meeting all these reasons.
The Lagos Government said the State is built on a tripod of infrastructure, security and job creation but the bad management of PRIMERO seems to be denting the infrastructural image that Lagos State Government has built so far.
At this point of poor transportation services, the Lagos State Government should call the management of PRIMERO to order or better still deprive them the right of monopoly they presently enjoy to encourage competition.
Ben Eremen is Media Relations Expert and a Geo-planner in Lagos Nigeria (firstname.lastname@example.org)