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No bus: Lagos BRT may halt operations – why it matters

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No bus: Lagos BRT may halt operations – why it matters

Primero Transport Services, a private transportation company operating the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), may be forced to halt operations from Monday, 25th of May, in reaction to revenue losses as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

  • Primero bus operates the popular ‘Blue BRTs’ in Lagos with a fleet of over 400 buses and staff strength of over 1000 persons.
  • It was introduced in 2015 after the completion of the World Bank-supported Ikorodu road renovation project and assigned dedicated lanes to ease the state’s notorious traffic gridlock.

What’s happening: Lagos has the most confirmed confirmed cases of covid-19 in Nigeria. This forced the Federal Government to shut down the bustling city – alongside neighboring Ogun state and capital city of Abuja – with a 24-hour sit-at-home order in March.

  • The movement restriction was meant to allow the state contain the spread of the disease and effectively track and isolate infected persons. But it expectedly took a huge toll on the local economy, particularly the transport sector where Primero Transport Services has a significant stake.
  • The transport company has seen its estimated monthly revenue of N1bn dry up with movement grounded in the state. Its operations are now threatened by a fallout inability to meet operations costs, including payment for diesel.
  • Although the restriction was eased earlier this month, things are not quite back to normal.
  • More companies are now adjusting operations to allow staff work from home in the state. Others are arranging private transportation for the movement of workers to prevent feared exposure to the virus in public buses.
  • Worse still, the number of infected persons in Lagos continues to go up.

Why it matters: Halting operations could put the over 1000 staff of Primero Transport Services out of jobs, adding further strain on an already distressed economy.

  • It will also compound the woes of workers, and other residents, who rely on the buses as safer and more convenient means of transportation within the state during the pandemic.
  • Ensuring compliance with safety guidelines on road transportation has a more feasible prospect with the BRTs and its management, compared with the alternatives.

Peter Adeshina is a journalist who reports politics, policy and governance.

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