Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun recently boosted the state’s inter and intra-city transportation by reviving the State Mass Bus Transit Scheme. James Sowole reports its implementation is aimed at easier and flexible transport of goods, services and humans leveraging on rail, sea and road networks
When veteran journalist and former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, commended the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun for bringing back State Mass Transit Project in his lifetime, some guests, who gathered at the Arcade Ground, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta for the unveiling of mass transit buses, may not know the import of the statement.
But to the people, who were in the state during few years that preceded the advent of the Third Republic, when Osoba was elected the governor under the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and few years after the military regime that followed, the unveiling of the new buses in the fleet of the State Mass Transit Scheme, represented the return of good old days in the intra and intercity, bus services, in the Gateway State.
During the period, which Osoba described as glorious era in public transportation system in the state, buses of different passenger capacities were provided for commuters within Abeokuta metropolis under intra-city category while some were deployed to carry passengers from the state capital to cities like Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Sango and other major towns in the Intra state category.
For the inter-state category, luxury buses, were deployed mainly to Lagos and Ilorin, Kwara State capital, just as some buses were also available for special hiring services.
Some unique features of the then Gateway Mass Transit were the low fare policy when compared to the average fare of the normal commercial buses for a journey of the same distance and the comfortability and reliability, in terms of operations. The scheme, also served as a means of employment for drivers, ticketing officers, checkers, supervisors and ground staff.
So, the Friday, April 8, 2022 unveiling of wifi enabled State Mass Transit buses, was very significant, not only to the government and the commuting masses but to some stakeholders, who had witnessed benefits of previous scheme.
While addressing the gathering, Osoba, who said he had the permission of the former President of Nigeria, Chief Okusegun Obasanjo, to speak on his behalf, said they would continue to give fatherly support to the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun for listening to fatherly advices and executing masses- oriented projects.
The former governor said Abiodun has restored some past glories of the state, adding that Abeokuta has always been a commercial centre, and with the launching of the mass transit buses, the present administration has succeeded in restoring the past glory of the state in terms of transportation.
“The Governor is making my evening and that of President Obasanjo great. The young man is restoring pass glories and making us happy.We thank you in many ways for doing good jobs and we pledge our continuous support for your administration.
“I tarred Ijebuode- Epe road when I was Governor and Abiodun has re-visited the road and made it double lane and also brought back the Gateway Mass Transit that was operational during my governorship period, sowe thank him in many ways for restoring old glories.
“Obasanjo’s advice and mine to him always tally therefore, we wish him well and pledge our support for his administration and pray for his success.”
Expectedly, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo in his remarks, appreciated the state government for providing modern system of transportation, saying the scheme would go a long way at alleviating the suffering of the people from moving from one place to another.
In another remark, the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office Future Cities Project, which is a major partner in the development of the master plan, lauded the state government, for embarking on masses-oriented project.
Represented by its Team Lead, Kayode Khalidson, the group, while going down the memory lane on the conception of the project, commended Dapo Abiodun for bringing the plan to fruition.
He specifically commended Abiodun for not allowing the plans, suggestions and implementation for the strategic master plan, gather dust in the shelf.
The team lead said that with this singular development, Ogun State has been strategically shortlisted for a global financing with the introduction of energy efficient buses/ electric buses towards reducing carbon emission.
Paul Rossi who spoke on behalf of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria and other critical stakeholders in the transport subsector of the state economy, pledged the unalloyed support to ensure the success of the implementation of the master plan aimed at easier and flexible transport of goods, services and humans leveraging on rail, sea and road networks
The Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, in his remark, commended the initiative, saying that the move was in line with the Federal Government’s Transport Transformation Agenda.
Amaechi said with the Ogun State Strategic Master Plan in place, the state is launching itself into the 21st Century development as this will attract more Direct Foreign Investments and a testimony that the governor is adding value to governance in the state.
While lauding the state government for operating a purposeful government, Amaechi said all the legacy projects carried out by the governor would continue to speak for him after leaving office.
The Minister who reiterated the commitment of the government at the centre in improving on transportation system across the country, informed the gathering that the construction of Lagos -Calabar rail line, that would pass through Lekki Deep Seaport down to Epe township, would soon commence.
He stressed that the government has continued to implement the rail line master plan project initiated by President Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
Addressing the gathering, Abiodun said the launch of the buses fitted with Wifi and other gadgets, was in line with the transport master plan aimed at providing efficient and affordable means of moving people from one location to another.
The governor disclosed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would soon be signed between the state and a private firm for the construction of the Olokola Seaport.
He said, “It is important to know that the whole essence of the transportation master plan is for us to efficiently move people either intra-state or inter-state. We are the industrial capital of this country and neighbour to the biggest economy, which is Lagos State. We see the cross border migration everyday and the trouble our people go through.
“Our transportation master plan has proffered suggestions and solutions for us to deal with this. Today, we are launching these mass transit buses. The pilot phase will start from Abeokuta and we will expand it to other cities.”
He said his administration is also developing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes in conjunction with the Lagos State government under the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Cooperation, adding that the state buses would move people from Abeokuta through Mowe, Kara axis to Marina as well as from Ifo and Ado Odo-Ota axis to Lagos and vice versa..”Very soon, we will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with a private sector player for the construction of the long awaited Olokola Port. The Olokola Port will soon be a reality. We are also committed to having water transportation by having water taxies.
“This is why we have come up with a Multi-modal Transportation Master Plan that we launch today. This transport policy takes into consideration the short, medium and long term approaches to the development of our transport sector. This will include road, rail, water and air transportation plans for the state”, he explained.
He emphasised that the multimodal transportation master plan of his administration stems from the comprehensive and well researched Urban Transport Policy and Strategic Transport Intervention Plan.
Worthy of note at the event was the endorsement of remarks of Osoba on the scheme by a former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who though came out with the former governor, but rather than say anything, said he concurred with all Osoba had said.
When asked to comment after Osoba has spoken, the former president who is the Balogun of Owu Kingdom, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo simply said “I concurred”.
Quote“The launch of the buses fitted with Wifi and other gadgets, is in line with the transport master plan aimed at providing efficient and affordable means of moving people from one location to another”