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Saturday, October 01, 2016

TRAVELLING IN MASS TRANSIT ACROSS AGES IN LAGOS


Mass transit transportation in Lagos has evolved over the years. There are generations that were driven around in bolekaja (lorry) vehicles which transported people from Lagos Island to Mushin, Agege because Yaba was the boundary then.
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Bolakaja.
Photo credit- nairalnd
The first organised bus service was provided by J.N. Zarpas, a company owned by Greeks expatriates. The Zarpas dominated the Lagos transportation scene, their garage is around Epetedo on the Island until their buses were acquired by the Lagos Town Council in 1958 to form the Lagos Municipal Transport. According to Pa Ayo Odeku, the fare between Lagos Island and Yaba was half a penny in 1945 when he was a pupil. However, the Lagos Municipal Transport Service, like every other government venture, died after a while.

Danfo (minibuses) evolves and it was considered swift; the minibuses got the name from the rough mode of driving these vehicles, danfo lo gbe yo, danfo gedegbe (he came out alone; he came unscathed). At that same time, molue (a corrupt localized way of saying mould it) operated by the Bensons and others was introduced, it was cheaper for the masses to board. Renowned musician like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti described the life in the molue in his song as, ‘49 sitting, 99 standing, suffering and smiling.’

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Molue.
Photo credit- Naija Chronicles

The government of Alh. Lateef Kayode Jakande, wanted to introduce Lagos Metro, which is a combination of Tram, Light rail and Mass transit, but it did not succeed because he did not get the support of the Federal Government.  Despite these challenges, the Lagos State Government introduced the Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC) which was a life saver in the 80 till the early 1990s when went moribund.

At the return of democratic government in 1999, LAGBUS Asset Management Limited
was created to operator LAGBUS which has metamorphosed over time in conveying Lagosians to and fro the state. These buses have saved a lot of people spending up all their funds on fuelling their cars and getting it used up in the perennial traffic gridlock which is just being resolved gradually by the administration of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The megacity status of Lagos has been consolidated by the strategies put in place by different administrations. There are a lot of operators and this has brought diversity into achieving the purpose of moving people around. There are government buses; franchise operators; corporate and individual operators operating within the state. However, these buses are regulated by LAMATA (Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority)

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Recently introduced airconditioned Yutong bus
While studying Lagos roads, there are some buses that are air-conditioned while there are some that are not. Another noteworthy feature is that there are different brands on Lagos roads; some of the brands include Daewoo, Higer, Hyundai, Yutong, Ashok Leyland, Tata and Marcopolo. However, some of these brands have different models on the road.

These buses are heavily branded; the adverts ranges from different industries which include health industries especially pharmaceutical companies and their products; Religious events from both Christians and Muslims; entertainment industry largely cinema release of movies; financial industries principally new products, educational sector and promotions from banks among others.

Interesting, the ‘unsophisticated’ operators of these buses now have women as conductors. It is a means of gainful employment; it is a way of challenging the status quo ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’. In fact, these ladies are more aggressive than the men who typically do it.

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A female conductor 
Value Media has introduced BRT TV which has strengthened mass communications and education while in transit. The TV service strengthens the adverts on the body of the vehicles. As such, you have no option than to consume information from both the interior and the exterior of the vehicle. This TV service has helped in promoting musical video of various artistes; comedy skits and some adverts also.


This service is yet to attain international status because Lagosians have not yet imbibed orderliness in boarding these vehicles; they stand in these buses at volition. The buses do not have a unified ticketing systems; some operators issues tickets in the buses while some issue tickets through a point of sales operator. All these disorderliness need to be addressed to increase the standard of mass transit in Lagos.
BRT Ticket in Primero TSL buses from Ketu to Fadeji


BRT Ticket in LAGBUS buses from Ketu

Also, there is a need to standardize the bus service by the operators, buses needs to have numbers and be able to move from one locations to another as the current bus structure is limited to certain areas and routes.  Likewise, the buses are inadequate for the 20 million people residing in Lagos.


In all, Lagos has laid the standard for other South-Western states and the commercial nerve of Nigeria. Certainly, mass transit is also in transit because it will soon became more sophisticated; reliable and timely; this will in turn redefine people’s psyche as we collectively build a new Nigeria
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