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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Lagos State government to commence new transportation initiative with N30 billion

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

In its drive for an efficient transportation system, the Lagos State government at the weekend said the proposed bus reform initiative aimed at giving the people an integrated public transportation system would commence this year with a sinking fund of N30 billion.

In a statement yesterday, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said his administration had identified the challenges the people go through on a daily basis commuting via public transportation, saying the reform was aimed at providing a viable alternative.

He said the initiative entails a three-year plan aimed at introducing over 5,000 air-conditioned buses to replace the yellow commercial buses, popularly called Danfo, which according to him, was no longer befitting for the state’s mega city status.

“We decided that the best thing is to allow the yellow buses go and so the initiative is a three-year plan from 2017 to 2019 in which we intend to bring in 5,000 new buses.

“The bigger buses will take 70 people and then the medium buses will take 30 people. We believe that the medium buses will be supplied up to 70 per cent of the total volume which will amount to about 3,600 units and then the bigger range in that direction,” he said.

On how the government intends to fund the initiative, Ambode stated that his administration would launch a public transportation infrastructure bond of N100 billion that would span between seven to 10 years and pointed out that the government already has a sinking fund which it intends to put into the bond.

“You are aware that the Federal Government paid the refund of the Paris Club loan last December and this money belongs to the state governments and so Lagos State decided not to touch its share of the Paris Club refund. Right now, we have a sinking fund of N14.5 billion to drive this public transportation bond.

“We believe that the second batch of the refund should be paid next month and eventually that will be N29 billion. We will add another N1billion to it making it N30 billion to start this initiative.

“By the time we have N30 billion as sinking fund to drive the bus initiative against the bond of N100 billion that we want to put into the market, there will be that credibility and credence that the bond will drive itself and that is the whole idea,” Ambode added.

He, however, said that the state government expects the Danfo drivers, who would be absorbed into the new initiative to adapt accordingly, saying that the transport unions would be expected to take ownership to ensure sustainability.

“This is just a paradigm shift where Danfo drivers move from being addressed as Danfo drivers but as professional drivers. So, we will buy back the Danfos from them and it becomes the seed money to become eventual owners of those buses in the years the facility will be spread.

Vía The Guardian Nigeria

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