The Lagos state government says it will soon phase out the commercial yellow buses because they are not conducive for a ‘mega city’. The yellow buses are popularly called “danfo” or “molue”.
Speaking on Thursday during an online forum, Frederick Oladeinde, Commissioner for Transportation, said the yellow buses do not have a place in the transportation masterplan of the state.
He said the yellow buses would be replaced by blue buses under the bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme.
“We are reforming the bus sector and over time, Lagos will phase out the yellow buses because the yellow buses are not conducive for a mega city like Lagos. That is why we are coming with blue buses you see around,” Oladeinde said.
“We are inviting the private sector to participate in the provision of public transport services. We are also deploying technology just to ensure that we can up our game in terms of efficiency.”
Commenting on the incessant traffic jams at Apapa axis of the state, the commissioner said: “Lagos State in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority invited a concessionaire and that concessionaire developed an Eto app that will be deployed February 27.
“Lagos State has committed 31 hectares of land in Iganmu called the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Truck Park to complement what is at Lilypond and we are talking to the Ogun State Government to secure a land in Ogere.”
Drivers React and Plead
A survey by yabacity.com revealed that some commercial bus drivers in the metropolis believe the proposed plan cannot be executed by the state government. Many of them expressed concerns over what would become of them if thrown off the road.
“It is not possible… it is a crazy idea. Who will feed our families? What job has the so-called government created for us? Where does he want us to dump our numerous buses? Would the proposed new buses even reach every part of Lagos like we do? It is a crazy idea…” an apparently furious Joe Eze, a commercial bus driver at Sabo, told our correspondent.
For another driver who simply identified himself as “Baba Luku”, the yellow commercial mini-bus popularly known as ‘Danfo’ has been a part of Lagos for a long time and it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any government to banish it from the road.
“They have been saying it for so many years now without results because it is an impossible project. Those who say they want to banish yellow buses from our roads, as well as their forebears, met the system on ground. ‘Danfo’ is Lagos and Lagos is ‘Danfo’,” he said, in Yoruba language, amidst laughter.
Baba Luku, who plies the Oyingbo-Yaba route of the metropolis, added that the plan, if executed, would only aggravate the security situation in the state, noting that it would negatively affect the rate of armed robbery and all sorts of criminal activities in the state.
“Sanwo-Olu is doing fairly well in terms of security, let him not jeopardize his efforts with this ill-conceived idea. Where does he want the army of conductors and drivers of the yellow buses to go? He wants to push us into criminality?” he said.
Ayo Bamidele, a driver, said, “I have a family I feed, clothe and send to school from this business. I am a Poly(technic) graduate but there is no job. The government doesn’t provide jobs, yet it wants to take away the one we have. It is unfair.”
Others who spoke with our correspondent however pleaded with the state government to look into the plan holistically, by considering its implication on the lives of people who feed their families with the income generated from their daily operations as drivers and conductors.
“Government should be considerate… some of us took these buses on ‘hired purchase’ arrangement, how does it want us to survive and pay the debt? Where do we even dump the buses? The plan is hasty and insensitive.”
Explaining further, they noted that the government could as well extend the period it plans to banish the buses from the road, so it would enable affected drivers plan for other means of survival.
Baba Luku said the government could as well adjust the present system by regulating the activities of the bus drivers and conductors, rather than banish them from the road.
“If you want to take something from someone, you give him another thing. The government can come up with alternatives for us or even make adjustment to the present system instead of banishing our buses from the road,” he said.
When yabacity.com approached a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Yaba unit, he declined to speak with us.