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Resolving gridlock on Lagos roads

Resolving gridlock on Lagos roads

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Will a formal policy improve transportation architecture in Lagos State? The government says yes, writes

THE huge financial cost of gridlocks on Lagos roads was grimly painted by Patrick Adenusi, Founder, Safety Without Borders.

According to Adenusi, if only 100,000 vehicles are held up in traffic and each driver buys N1,000 fuel, they would have spent N100 million daily. If this is done for just 20 days only, no less than N2 billion would have gone into extra fueling alone in a month, and N48 billion in a year.

Adenusi said: “Such amount spent to sustain traffic daily, in Lagos, is wasted.” He canvassed that the government take steps to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians by attending to all the factors that promote gridlocks, such as bad road networks, the completion of ongoing road expansions, the declaration of a state of emergency on the roads and the activation of the public bus reform being  worked on by the Akinwunmi Ambode government.

Under the bus reform project, 5000 buses are slated to be injected into the transportation system in the next five years. Already, 850 medium and large-capacity buses acquired by the government to kickstart the public transportation system would roll out next month.

Adenusi, who spoke at the presentation of Lagos State’s draft transportation policy, earlier in the month, urged the government to be firm on enforcement of traffic regulations.

The safe road campaigner said Lagos is home to the most brazen undisciplined drivers, as a result of poor enforcement.

He said no union should constitute itself into a lord on the road, if law enforcers are not compromised.

“The government should stop giving excuses for their failures to sanitise the roads. No driver or union should constitute himself or itself into a law on the road; otherwise, the government should fold up and allow self-help by all road users,” Adenusi added.

Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) official Mr Babatunde Ruwase at another forum  shared some thoughts on road regulations enforcement as a major panacea to gridlocks in the state.

Ruwase, who was represented by Mrs Johanna Maduka, said the government should place high premium on the quality of drivers on its roads.

“A trained driver is key to safer roads and reduction of crashes on our roads. He is also critical to driving the transportation sector in the age of smart city where almost everything, including transportation, is driven by technology,” Maduka said.

The LCCI’s position on driving sanity into Lagos roads was strongly canvassed at the workshop on “promoting road safety in a smart city through continuous driver education,” which the Ministry of Transportation held for drivers operating in the state in collaboration with the chamber.

Unveiling the transportation policy document, the chairman and lead consultant to the project, Prof Kayode Oyesiku, said the policy was in draft form to enable more robust contributions by all stakeholders in the transportation industry, looking at the gamut of the sector – road, rail, water, air, and pipeline transportation.

He said: “Though the document had been put together by seasoned experts and technocrats of over three decades, whose expertise spanned all the modes of the sector, they have thrown the outcomes open for more debate, to get more input from other operators to make the document more robust.”

He expressed the view that when the document is eventually adopted, it will ensure that all the sectors comply with international security and safety standards.

One of such experts, who have spent over 50 years in the state’s transportation sector, is Dr Tajudeen Bawa’Allah. He described the draft policy as a landmark, and thanked God for permitting him to be alive and for being part of the five experts who put the document together.

Bawa’Allah, who said Lagos’ transportation system began as a family business, said a handful of operators had been on the scene until the coming of the Osinowo Transport, and the Elias Transport in 1915 and the coming of the Sapaz family Transport in 1926.

He added that the Lagos Town Council later acquired the Sapaz Transport, thereby signifying the state’s and Nigeria’s first transport service named Lagos Municipal Transport Service.

“When Lagos State was created in 1968, the Lagos Municipal Transport Service was changed to Lagos Transport Service Limited (LTSL), which later became Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC), and then Lagos Bus Assets Company, operators of the LAGBUS.

Bawa’Allah said the new policy, which sought to streamline all transportation modes also seek to regulate the sector. According to him, not only was the use of motorcycle outlawed as a means of public transportation, adding that they are regarded as para-transportation system.

He said one of the initiatives of his team in the document is the recommendation of the creation of Lagos State Transport Authority (LSTA), the regulator of transport systems and operators in the state.

Bawa’Allah insisted the LSTC Building being used by the LASTMA be renamed Transport House, adding that all agencies as well as the regulator of the transportation sector should have an office.

The LSTC house was built by Bawa’Allah in 1983 when he was the LSTC Managing Director.

Presenting his input into the rail system Dr Alade of the University of Lagos said though the until recent modernisation initiative of the Federal Government, the nation’s march in the railway sector had been rather sluggish (since 1898, when the British started the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway line), said with a population of over 26 million, Lagos has a  huge cargo and passenger traffic on which a viable railway system could thrive.

He said though the state’s journey into the rail metroline system, which was kicked off by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande on July 16, 1983, was aborted, by the Federal Government, the state has continued to suffer gridlocks as a result of its poor inter-modality of transportation.

He listed as challenges that must be frontally tackled, poor integration of its land use and the poor integration of transportation systems.

On Pipeline Transportation Dr Bolaji Olaseni said Lagos, with five  percent of the 5,200 kms of Nigeria’s pipeline, said Lagos could raise its stake in pipeline transportation to about 15 percent as an oil producing state.

On the Aviation Transportation, the team said the state, which is coming up with its own airport on the Lekki corridor, has the potential of becoming the hub for economic activity in the sub-region with a technology driven airport for passenger and cargo services.

According to the team, the airport could effectively compete with the local airport owned by the Federal Government.

Lagos State University School of Transportation Studies (LASU STS)  Dean Prof Samuel Odewunmi, whose team worked on Institutional Framework for the new policy said the government must work on synchronising all the operations of  agencies in the transportation industry.

Odewunmi argued that a seamless operation of all agencies and the coordination of transportation activities in the state, under a regulatory agency LSTA, would help bring sanity to transportation in the state, as well as deepen the its strategic transportation masterplan, which must continue to be coordinated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Area (LAMATA).

Transportation Commissioner Ladi Lawanson, who described the event as “a new dawn,” said the forum was to enable the consultants working on the document to collate the stakeholders’ opinions of the policy.

“The document is in tandem with the government’s avowed commitment to continual improvement of the citizens’ welfare as it touches on other modes of transportation, hitherto, unfathomed in the state’s transportation subsector.

Lawanson said the policy designed to address the challenges plaguing the transport sector occasioned by the rapid population growth and migrants from other parts of the country, was vital to the growth of the state and will ensure the development of the transport sector in light of the realities of the global/national economy and state fiscal situation.

According to him, transportation plays a significant role in shaping and growing economies and in this case the Lagos economy.  He said the policy will set the state on a better course.

He said the document would provide the framework within which transport infrastructure and services in the state can be used efficiently utilised.

“This will lead to a safe and environmentally-friendly manner of operations capable of buoying the private sector’s confidence to invest in,” he said.

Ministry of Transportation Permanent Secretary Dr. Olufemi Salaam said it would complement the initiatives being put together by the government to promote safe and affordable public transportation.

He also stated that the Ministry is  negotiating with Industrial Bank for the Transport Trust Fund to help transporters meet set standards.

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