Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Oando Clean Energy Limited (OCEL), the renewable energy subsidiary of the company, in partnership with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) yesterday formally commenced the operations of its electric mass transit buses in Lagos.
In a ceremony at the Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL) Head Office, Ilupeju, Lagos, the parties stated that the initiative was aimed at transitioning the Lagos State public transport system through the development of a pathway to a carbon-free mobility ecosystem within the state.
They added that the EV buses will provide a viable, competitive, and environmentally friendly alternative to the current internal combustion engine mass transit buses in circulation.
In her welcome remarks, the Managing Director of LAMATA, Abimbola Akinajo highlighted the importance of public-private-partnerships, stressing that the government was keen on working closely with private businesses to develop the state.
“This initiative is a major aspect of our vision for transportation in Lagos State. We are desirous of having a clean and efficient transportation system. Today’s event is proof of our desire to involve the private sector in our activities to give the average Lagosian the ability to meet their mobility needs.
“LAMATA is a multi-fuel transport regulatory agency for Lagos hence the partnership with OCEL for the use of EV buses in passenger operations. From LAMATA’s perspective we are open to do business with the private sector whilst ensuring that these partners are aligned with the vision of Lagos state.
“ I am elated that in just over a year that Oando Clean Energy came to us to discuss the possibility of working with us in the deployment of electric buses, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a key deliverable being the implementation of a ‘PoC’ that would allow us finally include electric buses in our ecosystem,” Akinajo stated.
Lagos is said to be the most populous city in sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of over 20 million people and growing. In the last decade, the population of vehicles on Lagos roads are believed to have quadrupled; with over 3,000 mass transit buses operating in the state.
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Lagos State, Olalere Odusote, in his remarks said that Lagos had identified transportation as a major cause of pollutants and health problems in the state.
“For us, this initiative is another step we’re taking as a government to ensure we clean up the environment in addition to ongoing initiatives in the energy sector,” he noted.
Also speaking, the President/CEO of OCEL, Dr. Ainojie Irune, said that it was an opportunity for Oando to revolutionise mobility in the country as well as build local capacity for the renewable and clean energy ecosystem.
“Whilst today these buses have come from across the world, in the very near future they will be produced here in Nigeria. In the very near future, we will have a multitude of locally trained engineers who are capable of operating, maintaining, and servicing these buses and other renewable energy assets.
“We see these buses as a first step. This PoC facilitates the collection of the first sets of data points to support the development and deployment of EV for municipal and public transport on the continent.
“Our ambition together with Lagos state, is to set our sights on the future and chart a path for others to follow. We have worked tirelessly to get here.
“We believe that these electric vehicles have the potential to transform the transportation sector in Nigeria and provide a sustainable solution for the country’s growing population,” he said.
The Commissioner for Transport, Lagos State, Dr. Frederic Oladeiende, who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu, said that there was abundant evidence that showed that human activities had been the main drivers of climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
“Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that has prepared and initiated the execution of a climate action plan. The plan outlines 26 efforts covering adaptation and mitigation actions to build a sustainable low carbon economy in the pursuit of achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” Oladeiende said.
The roll-out of the electric buses started with a three-month proof-of-concept phase, aimed at establishing the viability of electric vehicles for mass transportation in Lagos State.
It will be followed by a pilot phase with an expanded fleet and bus routes, and the eventual countrywide deployment, creating employment for over 30,000 Nigerians.