The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, says the first set of 5,000 brand new buses under the Bus Reform Initiative of his administration would be flagged off within the next six months.
Mr. Ambode said this when students of the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government, United States of America, paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Ikeja.
He said his administration was working round the clock to revolutionalise the transportation system in the state and improve how 23 million Lagosians commute daily.
Fielding questions from the visiting students, Mr. Ambode said an integrated transportation system was key to growing the economy of the state.
He said the 5000 new buses would be the first step by his administration to change the existing transportation system predominantly driven by the yellow buses, popularly known as danfo.
“In the last one year, we have decided that we must integrate rail, road, water and air transportation systems in such a way that the system of connectivity is improved upon and I would like to have a direct partnership on how that can actually be actualised.
“Right now, we are cleaning out all the yellow buses you see in the state. As we proceed in the next six months and a span of three years, we are introducing 5000 new buses of European standard to actually clean up the city because if you want to grow the economy of Lagos, transportation is key and then it’s a major infrastructure for tourism itself.”
Mr. Ambode noted that the dependence on road transportation in the last two decades has given rise to a chaotic system where about eight million Lagosians commute across the state every minute.
“The question is how do you move 23 million people on a daily basis from point A to point B with ease and comfort?
“So, the way the city has been so designed in the last few years, the city has actually concentrated on only one mode of transportation, which is road transportation. There has not been any comprehensive planning to integrate all the modes of transportation in a way that makes it easy.
“There are eight million people walking on the streets of Lagos every minute. Did we create more points for them? The answer is no.
“We have one-fifth of the state on water. Are we doing effective water transportation? The answer is no.
“The rail system is still under construction in such a way that it can move mass number of people from one point to another. That is why we have a whole lot of congestion on the road,” the governor said.
Besides, Mr. Ambode said the state government had made a series of intervention to improve road transportation network through the creation of more bus terminals, lay-bys and bus stops to for the take-off of the Bus Reform Initiative.
He said the reforms in the water transportation system was ongoing and would take off fully within the next six to nine months, to encourage residents to utilise it as an alternative means of transportation.
Mr. Ambode also listed urban migration as one of the major challenges his administration was contending with just as he revealed that about 86 persons enter Lagos daily basis without any plan to go back.
He said the attending consequence of such migration was evident on the state’s healthcare system, as well as the 13,000 tonnes of waste generated daily in the state.
He said his administration however must continue to think outside the box to provide solutions to such infrastructural challenges.
“People fly in from Ghana to come and use our hospitals here in Lagos. So, we now have to sit down beyond what we have learnt in school to look at the practical challenges of urban migration and good governance and things we have to mitigate against a population that is unaccounted for,” Mr. Ambode said.
Thanking the students for choosing to visit Lagos, he tasked them to go beyond acquiring leadership skills, but also get involved in policy formulation and implementation in their various domains.
Earlier, immediate past Vice President, International Affairs of Harvard Kennedy School, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, said the team was proud of the exploits of the governor in the last two years, noting that despite the major challenges of urbanisation Lagos was facing, there was appreciable progress.
“I am overwhelmed with joy that I can bring some of the brightest and the best brains in the world to come and see the beauty, the greatness, the resilience, the talent and accomplishment of Nigeria,” she said.
“Lagos is the staple success story of Nigeria. I know Nigeria is not where it ought to be, but I know a State that is sustaining itself by itself under a crucial administration that understands how people should feel,” she said.
Thanking the Governor for receiving the students, she said the visit was to explore possible areas of partnership with staff of the state’s public service through research fellowships, policy analysis exercises, collaborations on talent, capabilities and constructive criticisms to move the state forward.