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Re-thinking Lagos As Mega, Smart City



Indubitably the influx of 87 people into Lagos per hour on daily basis had since thrown up a lot of challenges for the state widely acknowledged as Nigeria’s economic nerves centre. In this report GEORGE OKOJIE takes a look a current at steps being taken to make the Lagos Mega city a globally competitive city-state.

The pathetic scenes of commuters queuing under the rain and sun and others jumping into moving vehicles, in a desperate attempt to move from one location to the other and the ability of the state to function amid such challenges readily confirms the resilient city status Lagos State.

Experts and stakeholders told LEADERSHIP Sunday that if statistics from the Lagos Bureau of statistics which projected a population of 35 million in 2020 is anything to rely upon, proactive steps must be taken by the state government to avert being caught in the web of unpreparedness in its developmental stride.

Their position cannot be easily faulted given the stark reality that the state holds vast economic and social resources that has continued to attract lots of people from other parts of the country and beyond seeking better life and economic opportunities. While other areas are also being considered, it goes without saying that the success of a highly populated, cosmopolitan smart city-state like Lagos is strongly dependent on the efficiency of its transportation system.

The reality has dawned on the government that the Lagos economic surge which resulted in a massive increase in the number of private vehicles on its roads has overtime overwhelmed the state’s transport infrastructure, making its roads a nightmare to motorists.

Recognising its role in the provision of a sustainable environment for Lagosians and private sector initiatives to thrive, the present administration in the state engaged itself in with renewed vigour to ensure spatial, enhancement of the state’s aesthetics value, while reforming public transportation system.

One area that has been given priority attention by the state government is the transportation sector where the government has come up with various initiatives aimed at catering for movement of the growing population of the state and making modern buses available to the people.

Statistics show that over 12million Lagosians and 80million Nigerians use public transportation daily without standard facilities.

There is a seeming realisation also on the part of the government that there is the need to tackle the problem of infrastructure in the transportation sector and many are wont to believe that this perhaps may have informed the on-going construction of the magnificent Oshodi transport Interchange.

Suffice to say that Oshodi undoubtedly is the busiest transport hub in Nigeria as available statistics have shown that over 5,600 buses loading per day and spread over 13 different motor parks, as well as over 200,000 passengers boarding per day and about one million pedestrians moving daily in the area, with about 76 per cent of the entire area dedicated to transport and related activities.

The managing director of Ellywonder Clinic, Dr. Gabriel Azuka told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the Oshodi transport interchange is a very good initiative, pointing out that transportation is a very important sector when it comes to driving the economy because it kind of create a free corridor for motorists, ensuring the movement of passengers to their destinations by providing affordable, convenient transport services.

Azuka reasoned that that is the more reason why the government needs to pay adequate attention to the sector, saying the government from his observation has been working in this direction to tackle the traffic gridlock problem; provide additional road infrastructure. Commenting on the initiative, the Managing Director of Planet Projects, Mr. Biodun Otunola said the Oshodi transport interchange is one of the most ambitious projects in the country aimed at proving that there is no conspiracy to deliberately under develop the country.

Otunla assured that the Oshodi transport interchange being constructed by the Lagos State government and his firm the Planet Project will be completed in October 2018 having reached 70 per cent completion level. According to him, the project, when operational, will serve 300,000 commuters every day and decongest the densely populated area of Oshodi.

He explained that it has three terminals, with terminal 1 serving the inter-city segment. Terminal 2 will serve the BRT lane from Abule Egba to Oshodi and other destinations like Mile 2, Okokomaiko and the likes, while Terminal 3 will serve Lagos Island and the Ikorodu-Ojota axis. According to the indigenous contractor, over 1,000 piles (22m) and pile caps have been installed, while the three-multi-storey bus terminal buildings were at advanced stage of construction.

He said the cars and taxis parks were ongoing with massive walkway under construction, while lighting of the entire Oshodi area was ongoing, all of which were being done by over 500 workers on site. Otunola pointed out that Oshodi lacked adequate pedestrian facilities, walkways, bus shelters and bus stations and generally unorganised with the environment left in a degraded state .

What these pitfalls have manifested in his assessment is nothing but poor transport facilities, overcrowding, huge traffic congestion and threat to security, nothing that this may have necessitated the decision of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode not only to redesign the traffic flow but also transform the aesthetics of the area with iconic infrastructure.

Otunola pointed out that what is required is for those in government to put on their thinking cap, citing the Lagos- Epe- Eti- Osa Express road with the removal of roundabouts and then using the intersections system in traffic signal light. He said they have come up with so many other initiatives which have brought development to the state.

For the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode it can be business as usual in the state which had long attained the status of Africa modern mega city, saying the resolve to make it a smart city cannot be reversed. He said for instance, the Ikeja Bus Terminal signposts the commitment of his administration to reform public transportation infrastructure and management in the State, adding that the vision remained the provision of a functional, efficient and integrated transport system to support the populace and facilitate commerce.

He said, “In the last three years, we have committed to revamping and providing a new integrated transport system to support our growing population. We have initiated and completed the provision of infrastructure that are scalable and would support the daily needs of our people to meet their connectivity and mobility needs.

“The Ikeja Bus Terminal is one of our flagship transport infrastructure under the State Bus Reform Initiative. The first phase of this programme will see 13 new Bus terminals introduced including major terminals at Oshodi, Yaba, Ojota, Agege and the already completed Tafawa Balewa Bus Terminal.

“We have commenced the introduction of 5,000 new buses into the Lagos economy in the next three years. We will inject 820 environmentally-friendly high capacity buses in the first phase of this reform by September 2018, 300 New Bus Stops, three Bus Depots, and Intelligent Transport System which will aid Lagosians to plan their journeys on our public transport system.”

He said aside bus and road transportation reform, the State Government was also promoting Non-Motorised Transport such as walking and cycling paths to give the people modal choices while promoting healthy living, just as he said that the rail transport infrastructure was being put in place.

“Work is ongoing on the 27-kilometre Blue Line Rail project from Okokomaiko West of Lagos to Marina in Central Lagos. We are in discussions with various investors and stakeholders on our urban rail project, the Red Line from Alagbada to Marina.  “We are committed to a functional, efficient and integrated transport system which will support our population and facilitate our commerce and we will continually work till we achieve this objective,’’ Ambode said.

Corroborating the governor, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan said the Ikeja terminal delivered by Planet Project was one of the 13 terminals conceived by the state government to remodel public transportation in Lagos and optimize the sparse landmass of the state.

The Commissioner for Transport disclosed that about 800 buses that would serve the terminals would arrive soon. He said, “We expected to have this type of terminal, at least 13 of them. I’m sure you are all aware that we have one operational at the TBS already, while that at Oshodi is ongoing. We have in Yaba, we have in Ilupeju. “The idea is to make access to efficient and effective transportation available to most classes of Lagosians, especially those in the lower and middle income brackets who cannot afford to fund their own private cars every day. So this is one of such efforts.”

According to Bamigbetan, the Ikeja Bus Terminal, which is estimated to convey about 200,000 passengers daily across 23 destinations, adding that it has been fitted with all aspects of public transport operations such as buses, passengers’ insurance, 13 ticketing boots, route licensing, terminal bus attendants and operating companies.

He pointed out that apart from eliminating all the previous chaos and difficulties associated with boarding bus to different locations, the facility which is sitting on 10,000 square metres land space, is equipped with Intelligent Transport System (ITS), food court, shops, rest rooms, ATM Gallery, free Wi-Fi, electronically controlled shades, fully air-conditioned terminal, among others.

The ITS  he explained will enable would-be passengers to know the arrival and departure time of buses from the comfort of their homes, offices or anywhere and properly plan their journey.