Opinion: Sanwo Olu: Time for genuine palliative is now

The Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System, also known as Lagos BRT, regulated by The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority ( LAMATA) and currently operated by Primero Transport Services Limited mode of operation in Lagos is to say the least abysmal and becoming a huge hole in the pocket of Lagosians whose salary and earnings have not increased during the COVID 19 pandemic, but have to pay more exorbitant prices for new fares introduced by Primero.

Not too long ago I listened attentively to Mr. Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu’s chat at Journalist hangout on TVC News, sadly, there was no reaction from Mr. Governor or the presenter to the realities of hard time Lagosians are on a daily basis facing to get to their various destinations due to increase in public transportation fares occasioned by the social distance arrangement in public transportation, which necessitated a reduction in the number of passengers a public bus can convey.

BRT before now was the populace, especially the low-income earners’ succour from the pangs and inhuman treatment the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) workers inflict on the people through their often inconsiderate, exorbitant and indiscriminate hike in transport fares. The emergence of LAGBUS and BRT was thus a relief from high handed and “uncontrollable” activities of the yellow buses, popularly called “Danfo” and their high capacity bus counterparts – Molue.

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However, Primero Ltd’s sole license to operate alone on the BRT corridor has also been abused; making the operator complacent. The monopoly enjoyed by Primero Ltd is a flagrant misapplication of the goodwill successive governors in Lagos State invested in the novel public transportation venture.

The ordinary Lagos commuters that is supposed to benefit from the expected global transportation efficiency of the BRT have been handed the short end of the stick through the unreasonable increment of transportation fares by Primero Ltd. The latest increment is rather sour and rash coming when the government of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu was marking its first year in office; making the increase a bad one year gift to the people!

The Covid-19 pandemic, the world over, has exemplified how compassionate and soft-hearted a government ought to be during trying times to the citizenry. But, rather than making life easier for the people, Primero Ltd and, by extension, Lagos state government are adding to the anguish of the people.

It is not out of place for Lagos State government to liaise with Primero Ltd on how to subsidize the cost of commuting the people during the pandemic. Paradoxically, instead of Lagosians enjoying palliative assistance from the government, we are being inflicted with hike in transportation fares. It is a glaring fact that majority of the people who use the BRT are artisans, traders, students and people in the informal sector, whose income remain unchanged.

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On the other hand, I believe it is time for Lagos state government to break the monopoly of the Primero buses on the BRT corridor and allow other operators to compete, to allow the poor masses enjoy better choice and services.

On this note, I warmly congratulate Governor Babajide Sanwoolu for the service and human leadership he provided being the incident commander and number one frontliner in the fight against Corona Virus and marking his one year of being on the driver’s seat of the economic capital of Nigeria. You have recorded a commendable start, one can only wish you a successful and eventful ending of tenure.

Comrade Alarape Aliu writes from Agboyi Ketu LCDA, Kosofe, Lagos.

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