The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has released 500 units of First and Last Mile (FLM) buses, which will be sent to different places and communities to substitute the commercial motorcycles (Okada) which are to be banned.
The Governor also launched brand-new 100 high- and medium-capacity buses into the fleet of Lagos Bus Service Limited (LBSL) to replace vehicles that were burnt at BRT stations during the time of violence that accompanied the EndSARS protests in October 2020.
Sanwo-Olu stated that the small buses will address Okada-related accidents that had been a source of widespread concern to everyone.
The Governor also said that the first set of buses will start operating and then the buses will increase to 5,000 in the coming months.
Sanwo-Olu said, “The launch of the First and Last Mile (FLM) Bus Scheme today is an important achievement on our journey to achieving the intermodal transport system which gives our teeming population the choices they deserve, reduces congestion and journey times, and improves the quality of life. It is also in fulfilment of one of the measures we promised as a solution to the security situation discussed at our recent Security Stakeholders’ Town Hall Meeting.
“As a responsible Government, we are launching this scheme in response to two major issues. One is the alarming statistics of fatal accidents recorded from the operations of Okadas in Lagos between 2016 and 2019, and the use of Okadas for the facilitation of crime across the metropolis. The goal is the full implementation of a safer and more efficient alternative transport solution that takes out the need for Okadas and replaces them with safer buses that will help us curb incidents of Okada-related accidents, crimes and robberies.”
According to the governor, a ride on the FLM buses comes with a premium insurance policy for the lives of passengers and drivers. The operation and maintenance of the buses have been given over to private operators for efficiency and turnover. The Governor said that private operators will recruit people for the management of the scheme
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had been collaborating with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) as major stakeholders in the State’s Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) being implemented by Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
Sanwo-Olu addressed the local councils’ Chairmen to make sure that the roads are free from obstacles likely to prevent the smooth running of the FLM buses
The Governor also cautioned that driving against traffic will now attract a jail term of 3 years for constant offenders with first-time offenders liable to a one-year jail term in addition to their vehicle being seized by the government.
Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said the FLM buses operations would start immediately in Zones 2,3,4,5, and 7 captured in the first phase of the bus scheme.
For ease of operation of the scheme, the State Government delineated the FILM’s corridors into 8 zones, comprising Ikeja and Ketu (Zone 1), Oshodi, Mushin, and Surulere (Zone 2), Berger, Yaba and Oyingbo (Zone 3) and Lagos Island, Ajah and Ibeju Lekki (Zone 4).
Others are Iyana-ipaja and Agege (Zone 5), Mile 2, Iyana-Iba and Ajeromi (Zone 6), Ikorodu (Zone 7) and Epe and Badagry (Zone 8).
While I commend the Governor and everyone else involved in this for their efforts and actions, I await the full manifestations of these plans. Because Nigeria is known for promising its citizens things that it cannot and will not fulfill.
Implementation is one of the greatest hindrances of the growth in Nigeria. Words, rules, instructions can fly around but when it comes to taking action, Nigeria leaves the group chat.
Lastly, it’s not enough to create more opportunities. The government should go a step further by training Okada riders to learn how to ride buses and then considering them first for employment to drive the buses. This is only fake seeing that they will suffer the most heat for the bans of their Okada and it’s actually thousands of them that will be rendered jobless.