• Law enforcement officers look away as non-BRT buses use the tracks
When in 2008 the Lagos State government created the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), it was to facilitate navigation and expedite travel for residents in and around the state, as well as to provide transport clean, affordable and reliable. means of public transport.
But the BRT program, now in its 14th year, has raised various concerns among the public. The main ones are its modus operandi, the attitude of drivers on the road, the accident rate on BRT tracks, as well as the design of the tracks.
Originally scheduled to open in November 2007, available records show that the first phase of the BRT finally opened on March 17, 2008.
The administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu initiated the BRT project, which originally stretched from Mile 12 via Ikorodu Road and Funsho Williams Avenue to CMS. The second phase of BRT implementation saw the service extended from Mile 12 to Ikorodu.
While the administration led by Babatunde Fashola has constructed the Ikorodu to CMS lane, as well as the Orile to Trade Fair lane on the Lagos-Badagry highway, the administration led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has approved the construction of a new BRT corridor along Oshodi to Abule-Egba, and it was under the supervision of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
As part of the preparations for a smooth start of operations, huge infrastructure and logistics have been put in place. For example, 26 bus shelters were in place along the Mile 12-CMS road; three bus terminals along the corridor (at Mile 12, Moshalashi and CMS), while the CMS Bus Terminal has been designed to integrate and blend with various modes of transport including rail and ferry services .
In October 2018, a total of 800 buses were delivered from the first pack, while hundreds more joined the fleet to ensure seamless operations.
The BRT service powered by Primero Transport Services Ltd, which operates on over 25 routes, not long ago lowered fares for a trip from Ikorodu to the TBS corridor due to current realities.
Under Ambode, he activated a digital electronic payment system, also using an access control system, while the administration in place approved the creation of a specialized security team to supervise and enforce common sense in the BRT system, as well as to ensure the safety of other means of transport. . This was after a series of challenges appeared in the cause of his operations.
But despite the creation of a task force to enforce compliance and prevent motorists, especially commercial drivers, from using BRT lanes, the goal has not been achieved, as evidenced by what is happening in some hallways.
Rapid Response Squad (RRS) officers deployed on the Mile 2-Orile section of the Orile-Badagry highway largely fulfilled their mission in the breach. As a result, road users now suffer the consequences of failing to fulfill the duty of the task force.
Now, commercial buses and motorcyclists not only ride the BRT indiscriminately, but also ride against the flow in and out of the tracks, from Orile to Mile 2.
At Suru and Orile bus stops where this happens regularly, two RRS trucks are usually parked to apprehend violators or prevent commercial bus drivers and motorcyclists from using the BRT lane. But the agents concerned often do not meet expectations.
Since these carriers run against the flow in the BRT lane, the space left for vehicles heading towards Orile is severely limited, hampering the free flow of traffic. This often leads to chaotic traffic situations and sometimes accidents, especially at Mile 2, Suru, Alaba and Orile.
Last Wednesday, it was also observed that apart from the two RRS trucks which are parked on the BRT lane, about five other RRS cars and trucks were parked in Orile with “anti-one way” written on some of the vehicles.
A local resident, Itunu Ojo, lamented that the security officers deployed in the area to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic and ensure compliance are, through their actions and inaction, inflicting suffering on motorists and commuters using the road. .
“At Mile 2, Suru and Orile, a journey that should be completed in one minute, now takes between five to 10 minutes because, apart from vehicles traveling against the current, commercial buses stay in the middle of the road to pick up or unload passengers. . All these elements are responsible for the slow and chaotic traffic on this corridor. But the police who are on duty there are not doing enough to help things,” Ojo said.
Even though residents attest to the ease of getting around the state via the BRT, some pedestrians have been hit by buses as they tried to rush through the lanes, especially where there are no pedestrian bridges. Others have been knocked down by errant motorists defying government warnings and criss-crossing the lanes.
Some of the accidents involving pedestrians on the BRT tracks include those that claimed the life of a primary school student at Ogoloto Bus Stop, Ikorodu Road in March 2018.
In July 2020, a businessman, Ahmed Sulaiman, who was trying to cross the BRT track at Owode in the Onirin area of Mile 12, was crushed to death by a BRT driver.
Also this month, a young man died after being knocked down on the BRT track while trying to cross the road at the Mangoro bus stop on the Lagos-Abeokuta highway. He died of injuries sustained in the incident.
There was also an incident around the Ile Zik bus stop towards Iyana-ipaja which resulted in no loss of life, but a BRT bus dragged a motorcyclist and his two passengers on the ground for several meters before the incident. help arrives.
Mr. Akintola Joseph, a resident of the Mangoro area of the state, implored the state government to find a lasting solution to the frequent accidents on the BRT tracks as lives were lost.
Joseph noted that the government should have built a wire mesh to barricade the tracks, while also serving as a security measure to prevent people from straying into the BRT corridors.
For another resident, Aliu Kolade, part of what is responsible for the chaotic traffic on the BRT lanes is the width of the lanes around certain designated bus stops, which are usually larger than the remaining part of the road. He cited examples of the size of the BRT lane at Mangoro, Ikeja along, PWD, among others, as leaving little space for all other vehicles to navigate.
A security expert, Patrick Adenusi, implores the government to put in place a system that would keep residents safe so they are not put at risk for straying into the BRT lanes.
He suggested that the state government should put on the BRT lane, the maximum speed limit that drivers must enforce, and should enforce the same as one of the measures to stop the incessant crashes.
Adenusi added that the government should also introduce speed bumps on BRT lanes, especially in places where large numbers of commuters pass each other but without pedestrian bridges.
When Lagos RRS Commander Yinka Egbeyemi was asked for comment on the conduct of his men around the Orile and Mile 2 areas, he claimed his officers had been deployed to ensure residents were not trading on the railway line, not to prevent private and commercial vehicles from traveling on the BRT tracks.
He further said that there are two other organizations which are deployed to ensure mental health on and around the BRT tracks, while the RRS is to prevent commerce on the railway.
He added that the task force team was supposed to arrest those who drive against traffic, and a special police team attached to LAMATA has the responsibility to go against those who drive on BRT tracks.
He therefore maintained that his lieutenants were strictly doing what they were deployed to do.
LAMATA public relations manager Kola Ojelabi, who was also contacted, lamented that commercial vehicle drivers had been driving against the flow on the corridor despite state traffic laws prohibiting them.
“And I don’t agree with you when you claim that the officers deployed in these areas are not doing what they are supposed to do. We need an official report on the situation on the ground before we can rightly say that they are not doing the right thing. If the vehicles are going against the current, it’s been there for a long time and if the RRS is there, it’s also their responsibility to make sure that people don’t drive in one direction. This is a joint effort, as the RRS is also part of the state police team. So we need a specific report to look into the problem and do something about it,” Ojelabi said.
Commenting on the miscellaneous accidents and incidents recorded on the BRT tracks in the state, the State Information and Strategy Commissioner, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, said the government has taken steps to reduce the danger in and around BRT facilities, including pedestrian walkways to ensure safety.
He said: “Pedestrian bridges cannot be every meter of the road. The government has always advocated that pedestrians use these bridges instead of crossing the road, which can be detrimental to their lives.
On the width of some BRT lanes, he noted that the lane marking was in line with international best practice, but if anyone felt that the marking was not done properly or was causing traffic to slow down no matter where in the state (which he questioned), “these people have the right to complain and the government will review their complaints as soon as possible.”
Commenting on the lack of reflector signs on most of the concrete curbs that separate the BRT lanes from the rest of the road, Omotoso said, “Most motorists are familiar with these indicators, but they are always in a hurry, and in some cases , concrete barricades to delimit the BRT lane are pulled down by motorists.