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Halfway into Ambode’s 3-year Bus Reform Initiative, Danfo still on the rescue

Lagos State Governor’s three-year Bus Reform Initiative aimed at giving Lagosians an integrated public transportation system which kicked off from March last year with a sinking fund of N30billion is yet to begin removal of Danfo buses as promised by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, more than one and half years on.
Ambode had noted then that “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 is spread.
“It is something we have been working on in the last one year and we don’t come out to say we are going to do anything without working properly on it.
Finding by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) showed that the scheme launched on March 2017 to begin the phase out of Danfo along the roads of Lagos is yet to show any remarkable sign of success.
Governor Ambode, had on March 12, 2017, told journalists that his administration had identified the challenges Lagosians go through on a daily basis commuting via public transportation, saying the reform was aimed at providing a viable alternative.
He said the Bus Reform Initiative is a three-year plan aimed at introducing over 5000 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.
According to him, “We decided that the best thing is to allow the yellow buses go and so the Bus Reform Initiative itself is a three-year plan of 2017 to 2019 in which it intends to bring in new buses of 5,000 units in the three-year plan.
“The bigger size buses will take 70 people and then the medium range buses will take 30 people. We believe that the middle range buses will be supplied up to 70 per cent of the total volume which will amount to about 3,600 units and then the longer range in that direction,” he said.
Last year Ambode had disclosed that his administration intends to fund the initiative vide a public transportation infrastructure bond of N100billion that would span between seven to 10 years starting with a sinking fund which it intends to put into the bond.
Within the period under review, Ambode told journalists that “You are aware that the Federal Government paid the refund of the Paris Club Loan last December and this is a money belonging to the State Governments due to the refund and so Lagos State decided not to touch its share of the Paris Club refund. Right now, we have a sinking fund of N14.5billion that is already put in place to drive this public transportation bond.
“We refused to touch our money and we believe that the second batch of the refund should be paid next month and eventually that will be N29billion that we will have. I will add another N1billion to it making it N30billion to kick start this initiative.
“By the time we have N30billion as sinking fund to drive the bus initiative against the bond of N100billion 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,” Governor Ambode said.
Aside the bond, Ambode also told Lagosians that his administration intends to give out franchise to interested stakeholders in multiple of 50 buses each, 100 buses, 200 buses and above, explaining that what is required is a down payment of 25 per cent of the buses.
BHIU investigations showed that signals to any of the above off-takes have been seen in the last one year and seven months.