Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Thursday formally commissioned the Mile 12-Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) extension project and flag off of the 434 new BRT bus operations for the Ikorodu-Mile 12-CMS Corridor.
Speaking at the occasion, Ambode expressed optimism that the project would bring comfort and convenience to commuters in the state.
He said the BRT system which was initiated as part of the strategies to modernise the public transport system, has to a large extent lived up to expectation since the launch of the first BRT system in March 2008 along the Mile 12 – CMS corridor.
The Governor said that the 22 km BRT corridor has moved over 250 million passengers in the last seven years, adding that the extension is an improvement on the shortcomings noticed on the Mile 12 to CMS corridor. This upgraded system, known as the BRT classic with the BRT lanes running in the median will provide better service in all ramifications.
Ambode said the development was another demonstration of his administration’s commitment to effectively address the issue of traffic congestion and ensuring significant improvement in public transportation in the State.
“This government is committed to improving on the road transport network, the water transportation system, the public transport infrastructure and most importantly attract the needed investment to fund our Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which is already being implemented.
“The strategic transport master plan is a 30-year plan that will deliver to us a truly world-class integrated public transport system with six rail lines, one mono-rail, 14 BRT corridors, three cable car corridors and 26 developed water routes.
“As part of this vision, we are working towards commencing operation of the first phase of the Blue Line Rail Project in the next 12 months so that Lagosians will start to feel the benefits of a world-class rail system,” the governor said.
He commended the operator of the Mile 12 to Ikorodu BRT extension for investing in the acquisition of about 434 buses for the extension and the financial institution which provided the funds for the operation.
He also commended the efforts of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) for delivering the project as well as other stakeholders who were involved in the project.
Governor Ambode also seized the occasion to acknowledge the efforts of former Governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola, under whom, he said the project was conceived, initiated and substantially implemented.
Speaking at the event, Tinubu, who is the National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), described Ambode as an epitome of creativity, intelligence and honesty in governance.
Tinubu recalled how Ambode provided solutions to the financial crisis which engulfed the state during his tenure between 1999 and 2007 when the then Federal Government seized the monthly allocation of Lagos for 23 months.
He said as Accountant General of Lagos State, Ambode, along with others, provided solutions to the quagmire and lifted the state out of financial crisis.
“He (Ambode) never gave excuses; he was always ready with solutions. He is a bundle of creativity, intelligence and honesty in governance.
“When we were thinking of whom to succeed Babatunde Raji Fashola as Lagos State Governor, Ambode himself never thought about it; we sought him out and I’m proud to be a grandfather.
“I have many of them who are extremely gifted and talented and I have no doubt that Fashola will succeed even as Minister. You can see portfolios they gave to our people here; the government is now put together by our chosen president to move Nigeria forward and I can conveniently say that Nigeria is in good hands,” Tinubu said.
Also speaking at the event, Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, commended Ambode for his steadfastness in keeping faith with the vision of the progressives and keying into the developmental agenda for Lagos laid by Tinubu and continued by Fashola, who is now Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
Aregbesola said as governor of Lagos, which is almost half of Sub-Saharan Africa, the enormity of the job of governing the state was indeed gargantuan, because a governor of Lagos can comfortably lay claim to being president of more than 20 African countries.
He said it was wrong for people to refer to Lagos as the commercial hub of Nigeria, but that reasonably and historically, Lagos is the commercial hub of the black people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Aregbesola also recalled out the BRT project was conceptualised and actualised by a team which Tinubu put together, to which he was a member.
He recalled that the team visited London, Brazil, Ecuador and Columbia, and that at inception it was a tall order which many never believed in its success, but that he was happy that the project had become a reality.