The Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration at inception held a traffic summit and one of the submissions was the need for a more efficient and effective transportation system. This is what led to the Bus Reform Initiatives, which is driving several reforms, projects and programmes relating to transportation in the state.
Apart from recommending a better operational transport mode, the need to also introduce high and medium capacity buses, with 5, 000 of such being introduced in the first three years was stressed. This was to be done alongside the gradual phasing out of rickety and small buses from major routes.
The implementation of submissions from that summit has begun, and that that is why the state government is building modern bus terminals, depots and bus stop across the state. In the first phase, about 13 new bus terminals are being constructed across the state. Some have already been completed while others are nearing completion. The terminals are at Tafawa Balewa, Oshodi, Yaba, Ketu, Idumota, Iyana-Ipaja, Ishaga, Maryland, Oworonshoki, Oyingbo, Ojota and Agege. This is in addition to about 300 new bus stops and three bus depots.
For the initiative not to go the way of others that were fantastic on paper, but now history, for example, the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, he advised that a lot more thinking to be done with sustainability being exhaustively discussed.“I can say upfront that if deep thinking is not done, the project will last just about five years at best before it is weighed down and becomes moribund like many past transport initiatives,” the university teacher said, stressing that most of Nigeria’s transport initiatives go bankrupt just after five years at best.
Odewunmi, however, expressed optimism that the incoming government would continue with the project for many reasons. “It is still the same party; they will surely want to sustain it, but definitely fine-tune it to deal with the inherent challenges.“The second reason I am sure that the new administration will go ahead with it is that so much money has been committed to it that it would eventually cost more to put a break than to proceed. It’s unthinkable that anybody succeeding Ambode will attempt to stop the initiative, even if he were to be from the opposition. If that happens, it would be worse than what Buhari did to the Lateef Jakande Metroline Project that is still hurting everybody and hunting him till today.
“The third reason is that when everything is considered, the bus reform project is a fantastic idea whose time has come. The solution to Lagos traffic crises must be approached from multiple angles. The bus reform is one of the necessary strategies for dealing with the problem.”He nonetheless maintained that there is a need for much more engagement to avoid resistances and sabotage. “This is very important for the buy-in of these critical stakeholders. I strongly recommend this input since there is still enough time for it,” Odewunmi said.