In recent weeks, Lagos roads have been devoid of the characteristic traffic of Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre. In this report, TOLA ADENUBI looks at why more vehicles are disappearing from the roads.
The ever-busy roads of Apapa, Ikeja, Marina and Victoria Island area of Lagos State in recent weeks have experienced a new breath of life devoid of the usual heavy traffic that runs mostly on the state roads.
Checks by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the disappearance of the heavy traffic on most Lagos roads is not unconnected with the rising cost of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS), which currently varies between N580 and N600 per litre, depending on locations and places.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, Mr Liadi Owolabi, a clearing agent who normally drives from Abule-Egba to Apapa in Lagos, explained that for over a month now, he has been going to and from Abule-Egba to Apapa via commercial bus due to the high cost of fuelling his vehicle.
Owolabi said, “If I have to drive my vehicle to Apapa from Abule-Egba every day, I have to fuel it with 20 litres worth of petrol every two days.
“Twenty litres of petrol is N11,600. If I have to spend N11,600 every two days to and fro Apapa from my house in Abule-Egba area. It means in a week, I would have spent around N30,000 to fuel my vehicle.
“But when you compare that to going by the state-controlled Bus Rapid Scheme (BRT) of the Lagos State government, this has really made movement via public transport very affordable. The slash in fares by the government has led to many people besieging the BRT bus parks.
“From Abule-Egba to Oshodi via BRT is N270. From Oshodi to Apapa via BRT is N250. Meaning that with less than N600, I will get to Apapa from Abule-Egba via public transport. The slash in transport fares on the BRT coupled with the rise in the cost of PMS is a major reason many people are leaving their vehicles at home.
“I have friends who have vehicles but no longer drive them to work because of the high cost of PMS. When I get to the BRT terminals in Abule-Egba, the queue can be as long as what you can ever imagine. Many people are thronging the BRT parks because it affords a very cheap means of commuting within Lagos these days.”
Also speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, Tobi Onikoyi, a civil servant who lives around Ikeja but works on the island, explained that from Ikeja BRT terminal to Marina cost just N250 and from Obalende BRT park back to Ikeja costs N250.
“From Ikeja to and fro Marina on the Lagos Island cost me N500 every day. Meaning that in a week, I spend N2,500 commuting from Ikeja to Marina every day. That’s a joker.
“If I drive every day from Ikeja to Marina, there is no way I would fuel my vehicle with just N2,500 per week. My vehicle will gulp fuel of nothing less than N30,000 every week if I have to drive every day. So, you see why many people are trooping the BRT parks these days? The cost of commuting in Lagos due to the hike in fuel price is now very high.
“The Lagos State government’s decision to slash BRT fares couldn’t have come at a better time. It has really helped in alleviating the cost of moving around with the high cost of petrol,” Onikoyi told the Nigerian Tribune.
For non-state controlled commercial bus drivers (yellow buses), the reduction in the number of vehicles on the road has brought some sanity to driving experience on Lagos roads, though it hasn’t led to the reduction of transport fares due to the high cost of petrol.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, a commercial bus driver, Alhaji Taofeek Olamilekan, explained that, “Yes, the roads are free but the cost of petrol has not gone down.
“People expect the cost of transportation to come down, but this is not determined by the free roads. The cost of fuel is a major determinant of transport fares. The state-controlled buses (BRT) have been able to slash their fares because the Lagos State government has given them incentives to balance up. In our own case, there is nothing like that. We are in business to make profit. If the cost of petrol continues to go up, there is no way the cost of transportation via yellow buses will go down.
“The free roads have only reduced the stress of driving through Lagos roads. It has not led to a drop in cost of transportation,” Olamilekan told the Nigerian Tribune.