Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday said plans have been firmed up to roll out the Bus Reform Project of the state government in March with 820 high and medium capacity buses.
According to the Governor, the initiative would “redefine public transportation and make the state globally competitive".
Speaking during an extensive inspection tour of ongoing projects across the state, which lasted from morning till late in the night, Ambode said the initiative was basically designed to inject 5,000 buses, modern terminals, facilitate ease of mobility for residents and also rev up the Lagos economy, among others.
While inspecting the assembling plant at Awoyaya in Ibeju Lekki area of the state, which is also serving as the temporary holding bay for 500 out of the 820 buses, he expressed optimism that the buses would be rolled out after the elections, while the next phase of the project would be to assemble the buses in Lagos.
"This is an assembling plant. The dream is that beyond the procurement of 820 buses by government, the next set of buses in the vision should be assembled in Lagos in this assembling plant and another one in Epe,” he said.
"That is the dream and the whole project is scalable and in this scale right now, we would run with the 820; you have seen the maintenance workshops and all that, and then the next scale, which is the next phase, is for Nigerians to be able to assemble the buses in Lagos and then we create employment opportunities and also allow the GDP of Lagos to grow. The buses are ready and we think with everything we have done, we should be able to roll out these buses maybe immediately after the elections.”
Ambode explained that although the 5,000 buses would not be enough for the state, the government was showing good example and creating the conducive atmosphere to allow the private sector come in and participate in the whole arrangement.
“What has happened is that government has gone ahead to procure these buses using its funds and the buses are being owned by a government company called Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL). So, the LBSL will lease these buses to operators who would use the three depots at Oshodi, Anthony and Yaba to ensure that the buses are sustained and maintained properly so that they don't get wasted before their lifespan expires,” he said.
"The idea is if we are able to show good example — and we have procured these buses with our own money — the private sector can join hands with us and start to procure those additional buses that will take it to 5,000, while government can also procure more and by so doing, we would have had assembling plant in Lagos and create job opportunities for our people.
"By the time you put these buses on the road, it will create jobs for drivers, engineers, technicians, and so on, thereby growing the economy of Lagos coming from the transport sector in addition to 100 bus stops being constructed simultaneously across the State with attendant positive impact on the economy. So, the idea is: create jobs, grow the economy, make the city globally competitive and then make life comfortable for the people."
The 820 buses, which have already been delivered, are equipped with cameras, USB point, internet, television, and special spaces for physically challenged, pregnant women and the aged, among others.