Alternative to Okada: Sanwo-Olu launches new scheme with 300 pilot buses


… unveils additional 100 standard routes buses

… to study effectiveness in two months before full ban on Okada

By Moses Adeniyi

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has launched the First and Last Mile (FLM) Bus Scheme which is designed under the State’s Bus Reform Initiative in response to the need for an alternative for the spread of motorcycles in the State.

The FLM bus scheme which kicked off with about 300 buses launched on Tuesday, is the last layer of the State’s Bus Reform Initiative (BRI), coming from the Lagos state transport master plan developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Trasport Authority (LAMATA).

The Bus Reform initiative is a plan by government to ensure that over time the State’s public transportation system is moved from an unregulated framework to a regulated framework.

It was gathered that 286 routes were identified as FLM routes and the routes have been designed to be around 5km to ensure that connectivity is achieved for intermodal transportation

The BRI describes a bus transportation system in three main layers, which include: the BRT bus scheme, the Standard route bus schemes, and FLM bus scheme which are small capacity (7-11) passenger buses which will travel on routes designed to take commuters closest to and from their origin and destination.

The implementation of the FLM scheme which aims at 5,000 small buses, followed the restriction of the operations of tricycles and motorcycles in six local government areas and nine local council development areas in the State. Its implementation is essentially to plug the mobility gap created by the clampdown.

It would be recalled that at a town hall meeting held last Monday, stakeholders including traditional rulers, religious leaders, labour representatives, local government and youth representatives, among others, had raised concern over the need to enforce a full statewide ban on motorcycles, popularly called Okada in the State.

The call followed observations over the alarming records of avoidable accidents, proliferation of arms and crimes perpetrated through motorcycle and the traffic nuisance constituted by majority of the operators.

The State Government had in response affirmed its resolution to provide an alternative for commuters for routes were motorcycles will be banned, as well as to guide against job loss.

In addition to the FLM scheme with 300 pilot buses, the Governor also on Tuesday launched 100 numbers of 70 passengers capacity buses under the standard routes scheme to augment the State’s plan to have a regulated transport system.

According to Governor Sanwo-Olu  at the unveiling of the buses at the Lagos State House, Ikeja, the Government would pay strategic attention to study the effectiveness of the FLM bus operations within two months before a frantic declaration will be made on the calls for statewide ban of motorcycles.

According to him, the scheme “is in further fulfillment as one of the measures that we promised as the solution to the security situations that we have found ourselves as we did mentioned at the last week town hall meeting.

“The goal is for the full implementation of a safer and more efficient alternative means of transportation that will take care of the needs to replace Okada (motorcycles).

“We believe this will reduce the incidence of Okada-related robbery and crimes committed. I want to reiterate our earlier pronouncement again on the restriction of Okada in six Local Governments and the Local Council Development Areas. The reason is, we want the alternatives we are providing to go right into the communities.

“We want our citizens to have the opportunity to procure their cowry cards  and have the option and capacity on how this Last Mile Buses will work before we have a big stick; which is the total ban we are talking about.

“In the next one to two months, we will be seeing the response and how this intervention affect and help our communities and citizens for that needed alternative that we have talked about.”

He reiterated that a year jail term have been prescribed for traffic defaulters popularly called one-way offenders, while a three year jail term has been instituted for habitual one-way offenders.

In his remark, the State’s Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, said the unveiling of the FLM bus scheme is in line with the concerted efforts of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led Administration to fulfil the vision for an integrated multi-modal transport system.

“The First and Last Mile (FLM) bus scheme is therefore a part of our overall transport system that is meant to give Lagosians living in the hinterland relief in accessing the main transport corridors through a safe means

“The FLM bus scheme will sure make the whole passenger transport chain as seamless, fast and comfortable as possible,” he said.

In her remark, the Managing Director/CEO, Lagos Metropolitan Area Trasport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. (Mrs.) Abimbola Akinajo, said the FLM bus scheme would enhance and ensure connectivity in the intermodal and integrated public transportation drive of the state.

According to her, the identified routes “have been designed to provide connectivity not just for the three tiers of bus schemes but also for all forms of public transportation, to include water transportation and the Rail transportation system when they become operational last quarter 2022.

“These buses will connect community routes to the major BRT bus stops, bus terminals, ferry terminals as well as train stations,” she said.

For ease of operation of the scheme, the state has been delineated into eight zones which include Zone 1: Ikeja and Ketu; Zone 2: Oshodi, Mushin, and Surulere; Zone 3: Berger, Yaba and Oyingbo; Zone 4: Lagos Island, Ajah and Ibeju Lekki; Zone 5: Iyana-ipaja and Agege; Zone 6: Mile 2, Iyana-Iba and Ajeromi; Zone 7: Ikorodu and Zone 8: Epe and Badagry.

It was gathered that the FLM scheme will be run by private operators who will work with the state. For participation in the bus scheme, the State Government will support private operators in the Bus acquisition under a Bus Finance Scheme.

The private operator will be required to make 20% down payment to be eligible to come under the Bus Finance Scheme. The repayment period for the Bus Finance Scheme will be for a period of 36 months and the state has negotiated an interest rate of 10% for the outstanding amount.

It would be recalled that the Lagos State Government had deployed a central ticketing system for use across all public transport modes and the cowry card system will be deployed on the FLM bus operations