5 February 2010

Nigeria: BRT May Be Replicated Nationwide

Lagos — Lagos State Government is recommending its Bus Rapid Transit, which it introduced less than two years ago, to other states and the Federal Capital Territory, following World Bank's acknowledgment of the success of the scheme in the state.

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, said replicating the state's metro transport authority, including the BRT and the State Traffic Management Authority in other states of the federation would drive sanity into the transport system.

He spoke at an auto media award in Lagos on Thursday, where he represented Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was honoured for his immense contributions to the transport system.

"We have invested heavily in the BRT. We hope to eventually set up an assembly plant of Ashok vehicles in Nigeria. This is one of the ways Lagos State Government intends to revolutionise the transport system."

Some African countries have also sought the cooperation of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority in adopting Lagos BRT in their domains.

For instance, delegations from Ghana have visited LAMATA and undertaken facility tour of its BRT operation twice.

Opeifa said, "We have also made huge investment in human capacity development. And we are proud to say that many of our agencies, especially LAMATA, have some of the best brains in public transportation in Africa.

Despite criticisms trailing the activities of few traffic officers, some state governments have applied to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority seeking its technical support in creating similar traffic agency in their areas.

The special adviser described LASTMA as the flagship of transport authority in Africa, adding, "Today, LASTMA has become a model for traffic management. We've had invitations from Rivers, Kano, Kwara and Anambra State Governments.

He said, "Currently, the Chief Executive Officer of LASTMA, Mr. Young Arebame, is on 'loan' to Edo State by special invitation of the state government to help establish LASTMA there."

He also hinted of plans to invest in other auto companies such as Tata Africa, now based in Nigeria, just as he added that the state's patronage of Toyota Nigeria Limited through the purchase of its Hilux trucks was another way to sustain the business of auto firms in the country.

Opeifa said, "We have created drivers institute. And we heard that the Federal Road Safety Corps is also pursuing the same goal."

The special adviser lamented the lack of formal training for drivers in the country, especially the truck drivers.

"There is no where in Nigeria where truck drivers, for instance, are trained. They learn their trade on Lagos-Kano road. We want to change that practice. If you want to drive in Lagos , you have to obey the driving rules of the city as an international environment. We don't see Lagos as an ordinary city anymore."

Another approach being adopted by the state government to tackle the poor driving culture and traffic problems in the city, according to him, is the traffic education through the schools.

He said the school traffic road advocacy programme was a catch-them-young scheme in which everyone in primary and secondary schools would be exposed to the Highway Code and attuned to driving culture.

Opeifa said, "The first graduates of this scheme will be going to London in April to understudy what transport looks like there. Our hope is to make it better from year to year."

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