The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has launched 500 units of First and Last Mile (FLM) buses, which will be deployed to communities as alternative means of transportation in addressing the security threat posed by commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada.
The Governor also inaugurated brand-new 100 high- and medium-capacity buses into the fleet of Lagos Bus Service Limited (LBSL) to replace vehicles burnt at BRT stations during the wave of violence that marred the EndSARS protests in October 2020.
Sanwo-Olu said the mini buses would address Okada-related crises that had generated widespread concern on safety among residents, adding that they will offer services which the high-capacity buses were not designed for.
The Governor pointed out that the first fleet of buses will kick off the operation of the scheme with the fleet expected to gradually increase to 5,000 buses in the coming months.
Sanwo-Olu said, “The launch of the First and Last Mile (FLM) Bus Scheme today is an important milestone in our quest to achieving the intermodal transport system which gives our teeming population the choices they deserve, reducing congestion and journey times, and improving the quality of life. It is also in fulfilment of one of the measures we promised as a solution to the security situation discussed at our recent Security Stakeholders’ Town Hall Meeting.
“As a responsible Government, we are launching this scheme in response to two major issues. One is the alarming statistics of fatal accidents recorded from the operations of Okadas in Lagos between 2016 and 2019, and the use of Okadas for the facilitation of crime across the metropolis. The goal is the full implementation of a safer and more efficient alternative transport solution that takes out the need for Okadas and replaces them with safer buses that will help us curb incidents of Okada-related accidents, crimes and robberies.”
A ride on the FLM buses comes with a premium insurance policy on the lives of passengers and drivers. The operation and maintenance of the buses have been handed over to private operators for efficiency and turnover. The Governor said that private operators will recruit personnel for the management of the scheme.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had been working with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) as major stakeholders in the State’s Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) being implemented by Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
Sanwo-Olu directed the local councils’ Chairmen to ensure that the roads are free from encumbrances likely to impede the smooth running of the FLM buses
The Governor warned that driving against traffic now attracts a jail term of 3 years for repeated offenders with first-time offenders liable to a one-year jail term in addition to their vehicle being forfeited to the government.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Dr Frederic Oladeinde said the scheme was a component of the State’s transport system meant to offer relief to residents in the hinterland in accessing the standard transport corridors through safe means.
Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said the FLM buses operations would start immediately in Zones 2,3,4,5, and 7 captured in the first phase of the bus scheme.