In Depth

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AutoGenius, an online provider of car insurance, has released its top 14 contributors to Lagos traffic – one of the most notorious in the world – following a PhD thesis that was conducted in 2007, the highest contributors according to the report are the Danfo drivers, followed by those who drive against traffic. Traders and hawkers rank as one of the main contributors to traffic.

 

 

Here’s the full list in descending order:

  1. Danfo Buses
  2. Drivers who drive against the traffic
  3. Traders and hawkers
  4. Flooded highways
  5. Area boys
  6. Road construction
  7. Accidents
  8. Vehicle breakdown
  9. Police traffic checkpoint
  10. Oil tankers
  11. Too many vehicles on the roadways
  12. Traffic light
  13. Intersections
  14. Drivers that cut off other drivers

17 1906

Ademola Adeeko

A few years ago, I was one of the millions of Lagosians who fell in love totally with Governor Fashola over his initiative to re-introduce affordable and accessible mass transit to reduce the woes of Lagosians who on a daily basis spend much on transportation and still end up languishing in endless traffic jams. Given the opportunity to exterminate daily problems in Lagos, I bet you wouldn’t agree less with me that transportation should come first. The introduction of the BRT isn’t actually a new innovation in Lagos state but a modified one which was one decision that brought Governor Fashola to limelight as we had in the days of Lateef Jakande. It’s one decision that truly added a feather to his cap and also gave the ACN bragging rights across the nation’s political sphere. It’s one decision that brought about heavy sighs of relief from every corner of Lagos. It really brought relief so much that my friend stopped driving to work because obviously, the BRT was cheaper and faster.

The BRT, apart from being an easy and cheap way of transporting people, was one of the numerous elements that was used in the cosmetologic beautification of Lagos state. You’ll agree with me that everywhere you went, seeing those blue and red buses appealed to your sense of pride and belonging. The ticketing system coupled with the uniforms of staff really made the Lagos chapter of the NURTW green with envy. Yea, Fashola was on his way to greatness. He was breaking all the evil jinx surrounding governance in Nigeria. He seemed to be breaking all barriers making Lagos a trailblazer and that was great for other states to emulate.

The emergence of BRT ushered in the extinction of the popular “Molue” era. An era I couldn’t wait to see come to an end. Happily, we won’t have to stand in a bus where different armpits will be raised close to your mouth. No more pick-pockets, the irritating drug-hawkers, the lousy gospel evangelists and most of all a dedicated lane that will ensure free flow of traffic for the BRT buses only! Wow! The bliss of not having to shout “Ojota Wa Ooo!” whenever you get to your designated bus-stop plus the modern bus shed that allows for convenient queuing, expelling the normal bus-rushing associated with Lagos transportation system, can’t be over-emphasised. I was one of the many Lagosians who found it interesting to take pictures inside the BRT buses (who does that in Molues?). The buses were looking quite cool and that gave Lagosians a preview of what else the government had in store for them. It really gave me a sneak peek at what Nigeria would look like if all our elected leaders did their jobs! No, the BRT was a laudable initiative, don’t argue it.

Sadly, there’s been a down-spiral turn of events. The BRT is gradually metamorphosing into glorified “Molues”. It’s no news that Nigerians lack maintenance culture and this has actually turned endemic in nature especially in our attitude towards social amenities. These days, when I board a BRT bus and I find some seats missing, I begin to wonder; “what actually could have happened?”, “who stole those seats?”. As if missing seats aren’t enough, the buses which are just a few years old have quickly become so tattered that you wonder if they’re being used to convey more than humans. The filth and dirt that comes along with those buses can be compared to what we have at the Olusosun Dump Site. The automated doors are now always left ajar as most mechanisms have been destroyed. The torn body of the buses are potential weapons waiting to tear off any part of your body that comes in contact with it! Now, the BRT isn’t looking like London’s legendary red buses anymore.

The magnificent BRT buses are slowly but steadily losing their charm. They’re no longer clean and comfortable anymore as drivers now overload the buses, probably in a bid to reduce the crowd standing in bus sheds during rush hours or just a deliberate attempt to meet up with some daily targets, I wouldn’t know. The reckless and careless attitude of most BRT drivers is so disgusting. They break all traffic laws known to man. They always feel like they’re invincible and above the law whenever they’re on the roads, very inconsiderate to other road users. They care less about the comfort of their passengers neither do they care for the vehicles they manage. I’m so disappointed in the transport system’s management. They started off well but got this worse. The day I stopped bothering about the drivers was when I learnt most of them are retired “Molue” drivers –there’s absolutely no difference. Do I still need to emphasize on the staff? Their indecent way of dressing? What happened to all the ties, jackets and face caps? How much more their disgusting attitude towards customers/commuters!

Now the big questions are: What actually went wrong? What were they doing to sustain the system that they aren’t doing anymore? Was there a change in the maintenance department of the management? These questions and many more can’t be left unanswered and we expect to see change. Somebody should tell somebody that knows somebody that knows Governor Fashola that his legacy is dying right before him. Something is definitely wrong with the BRT system and somebody isn’t doing his/her job!

I want to use this medium to reach out to well-meaning Nigerians to do something, let’s save the BRT! That brand shouldn’t just die off like that. It’s one of the valuable prides of Lagos.

Just like the BRT slowly pushed the “Molue” out, the BRT is slowly uncovering it’s own true identity. Fashola can’t let this happen, there has to be continuity. He shouldn’t bring my worst nightmares back. But if nothing is done to revive the BRT now, I can categorically say that before the end of Fashola’s term, we’ll have our Dear “Molue” back. Only that this time around, it will be blue in colour!

The writer is on Twitter as @OccupyNaija