March 29, 2018 was a day of prestige for Lagos, as President Muhammadu Buhari officially visited the state for the first time since he became President in 2015.
During the President’s visit, he commissioned some state projects and also visited Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was celebrating his 66th birthday.
However, it was a day to forget for Lagosians residing on the mainland — because all car routes were shut down.
The shutdown was considered necessary by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the Nigeria Police Force because the President would be commissioning a Bussed Rapid Transport (BRT) terminal in Ikeja. There was attendant eonomic loss, as entrepreneurs were unable to transport themselves to work.
Also affected was the Computer Village, the biggest ICT accessory market in Africa, as more than a thousand shops were locked.
Lagosians were stoic towards the decision of the state government with the hope that the about-to-be-commissioned bus terminal would ease their daily transportation stress.
Two months down the line, the bus terminal, which was commissioned by the President, is yet to begin operation.
On a positive note, the state government has bought the buses to be used whenever the terminal begins operation. But the big question remains, when will it be ready for use?
Speaking with SaharaReporters, some Lagosians expressed dissatisfaction with the state government, questioning why the terminal was commissioned when it was not ready for use.
“When it was commissioned, I expected work to start immediately, probably the second day of the commissioning but two months after, nothing has happened," Paul Gbolahan said.
A bus driver who plies the Ikeja axis maintained that the commissioning was not properly planned, saying: “They should have put some things in place before they commissioned the terminal. I am surprised that nothing was done since the commissioning of the terminal.”
Another resident, Morgan Olusegun said Ambode should not have commissioned the terminal when he knew it was not ready for use.
“Since the Governor knows the terminal is not ready, why was it commissioned?” he asked. “They should know they are ready before commissioning the terminal.”
Noting that the terminal was commissioned for political reasons, Augustine Okeke said: “It is not wise for them to commission it when they know that they are not ready to start working. For them to commission it before they start work is part of corruption.”
Urging the state government to establish a partnership between the state and transport union, Paul asserted that the new buses cannot meet the demand by the huge population of Lagosians.
“The state should synergize with commercial bus drivers because there are some areas in inner part of Lagos mainland that these buses cannot go to,” he advised.
'Other components are not yet ready'
When he was contacted, Ladi Lawal, Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, explained that the terminal hasn't been put to use yet because its functionality is hinged on other uncompleted terminals.
"It is true that the bus terminal was commissioned but those are two components of a very holistic approach to solving Lagos’ transportation problem," he said.
"There are issues of bus shelters because when those buses take off from those terminals, they are meant to drop people along the way. Some of those places are those shelters which are still under construction.
“We are talking about Oyingbo, Yaba and even the OShodi one is not ready yet. When the buses take off from one terminal, where should the bus drop a person who is going to Oshodi, when the terminal is not completed?”
He further explained that route planning, route mapping and assigning of routes to buses still need to be completed before the operation starts.
“All these components have to be brought together to ensure that the system is set up work efficiently and seamlessly," he further explained. "A lot of things have to be done at the backend before we roll out for you to see. We have to test the buses to ensure that we get the fueling right, those are components that we have to put together into a plan and a system."
He expressed happiness that residents of Lagos noticed the progress being made in solving transportation problem in the state, and promised that other terminals being constructed would be ready before December 2018.
“I’m glad that Lagosians can see that there is progress and a lot of thinking and resources being pumped into it," he said. "Work is ongoing, the Ikeja Terminal is ready and the other terminals would be ready before the end of the year.”