Of recent, some portions of the BRT lane are gradually caving in. CHARLES ADINGUPU notes that the lane at Ikorodu axis is replete with potholes and gullies all combine to threaten the laudable scheme.
When the Lagos government began to implement the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service by demarcating federal government roads in the state, politics was the intrigue used to almost mar the entire exercise.
The then federal government under the ambit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the helmsman had an axe to grind with the Alliance for Democracy government of Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu. For a while the controversy dragged on until wisdom superceded logical reasoning, and the BRT lane was allowed to be.
Under the arrangement of the transport scheme, the lane was created from the existing federal roads in Lagos for the exclusive use of buses operating under the aegis of the Bus Rapid Transport scheme.
And just like casual conversation, the scheme begun with a lot of challenges. Lagosians embraced it with an open arm. Ironically, typical with other public projects in Nigeria, amid other hurdles, the BRT lane begun to cave in. So much so that most of them as at today are in a bad state.
Daniel Okonofua, who works in the Island, said the BRT lane is gradually becoming a big threat to pregnant women. If you ride on BRT, to the Island on daily basis just the way some of us do, you will notice that the journey from Mile 12 to the Island has become a tortuous one.
"First, you will be surprise to find out that there are gullies at virtually all the bus stops. It's no more a smooth ride as at when they began operation. From Iyana School bus-stop, Manyland, Anthony and Fadeyi end of the Ikorodu road, there are different sizes of potholes on the lane," Okonofua said.
A trader at the popular Balogun Market in the Island, Madam Tolu Adebiyi collaborated this claim.
She observed that there are gullies on the BRT lane before the CMS bus stop. This, according to her, makes the drivers to divert from their lane in order to avoid breakdown of the fast aging buses.
The trader also said that the lane situation is worse when coming back from the Island to Mile 12.
"At Anthony bus-stop, there are potholes on the lane, at Ojota and Ketu, down to Iyana School, the gullies at these points are very terrible," Madam Adebiyi lamented.
But a young man who proffers anonymity queries whose responsibility it is to oversee the regular maintenance of the BRT lane.
"I hope the Lagos State government is not expecting the Federal Government to take responsibility of maintaining the BRT lane? Since they (Lagos State) were allowed to demarcate the road for their use, they should be able to take charge," he said.
Similarly, a respondent who gave his name simply as Deji expressed fear that the BRT scheme like other laudable schemes embarked upon by government may die prematurely.
"This nonchalant attitude of the Lagos State government towards maintaining the BRT lane could be the beginning of the end of the scheme.
Already, most of the buses are aging fast. Some of them are already worse than the then Molue buses still with 44 sitting and 99 standing (no apology to late Afro-beat king Fela Anikulapo Kuti)," he said.
But Tunji Babajide who works in the Island, demissed fear of possible crash of the scheme.
Babajide stated that since the commencement of the BRT scheme, the Lagos State government had embarked on maintenance exercise of the lane, particularly the Ikorodu route. That the failed portion kept failing all over again, only confirmed that they were not properly done.
He expressed optimism that the failed portion of the lane will soon be done by the state government.
"Perhaps, it's possible the government is waiting for the right season before it will deploy men and materials to site. But I will want to urge them to do it right this time because commuters cannot continue to be subjected to serious traffic gridlock which accompanies such road maintenance in Lagos," Babajide posited.
While lamenting the poor state of the BRT lane, a civil engineer, Desmond Omonigho, noted that apart from the Ikorodu axis, there is no organised BRT lane anywhere in the state.
"I believe if the Lagos State government extend the demarcation of road to create more BRT lanes, the essence of the scheme would be fully realised," he said.
The civil engineer also pointed out that the barricades constructed mainly for the demarcation of the road have been damaged by trucks and trailers who often use them as a stopper whenever they experience break failure.
"From Fadeyi to Mile 12, you will see series of damages done to the barricades. On several occasions, I've personally seen tankers with a failed break using the banister as a stopper. Though, sometimes, one wonders if these barricades was not there what would have happened?" he queries.
Against this backdrop, Omonigho advised the Lagos State government to start thinking of a way of improving on the barricade as well as continue regular maintenance. At some points, most of them had completely caved in.
The civil engineer also faulted the way adjoining roads to the BRT lane was linked without visible and proper caution signs.
According to him, this poor planning has been responsible for the high rate of accidents recorded with the BRT buses.
"Although, they are speed breakers in some of them particularly at Anthony, Maryland and Ojota, but they are too small to be visible for some of the BRT drivers who lately have become reckless.
"I can count on a number of times, BRT buses had knocked down and killed both the rider and passenger of commercial motor cycle operators, even dispatched riders negotiating to the expressway.
"At other times, the buses had veered off their lane to knock down and kill bystanders," Omonigho said.
But James Dudun, a Lagos based lawyer noted that the BRT lane is too narrow for a thoroughfare of the buses.
According to him, any mistake by the bus drivers will lead to accident. It appears the size of the buses were measured to fit into the lane. Therefore, when a bus is on the lane, there is hardly any space left for the driver to make any manouvre against impending dangers as potholes or abandoned used tyres or object on the lane," he said.
The luminary who lamented that though it may not be possible to extend the lane beyond its present state, advised the Lagos State government to take note of this defect when constructing new roads that will accommodate BRT lane.
Dudun particularly made mention of the on-going construction of the Mile 12-Ikorodu road which has plans for BRT lane as well as that of the Orile-Badagry.
"Riding on the lane appears like one driving through an endless tunnel. There should be little space on the lane for the BRT bus as this will create a sense of safety in the minds of commuters," he said.
However, investigations by Saturday Vanguard confirmed our respondents' claim as some portions of the BRT lane were dotted with potholes and gullies.