The operator of Bus Rapid Transit system in Lagos, Primero Transport Services Limited, has said its bus assembly plant being built in the state will begin operation in the second quarter of next year.
The Managing Director of the firm, Mr Fola Tinubu, disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday.
He also spoke on plans by the firm to phase out manual ticketing and replace it with a card system in the first quarter of 2019.
Tinubu said that Primero had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with one of the biggest bus manufacturers in the world, Yutong, to establish the bus assembly plant in Lagos.
Already, he said that the plant had been set up in Epe and expressed the hope that it would go into mass production of high capacity buses by the second quarter of 2019 when a new BRT corridor being constructed by the Lagos State Government between Oshodi and Abule-Egba would have been completed and allowed to operate.
According to him, the transport firm which started full operation in November 2015, currently has 434 buses conveying 150,000 people daily across major terminals between Ikorodu and Tafawa Balewa Square.
Tinubu said the company planned to increase to 200,000 passengers daily on the Ikorodu/TBS corridor, adding that should Primero win the bid to operate the Abule-Egba/Oshodi corridor, it would deploy additional 350 buses in the route.
He said the organisation hoped to increase its buses to 2,000 with capacity to convey one million passengers daily.
On the plan to completely phase out manual ticketing in the first quarter of 2019, he said all passengers would be compelled to embrace the card system to remove the hassle of queuing to buy tickets.
He called for a conference of all the stakeholders to discuss how to make the public transportation work in Lagos and ensure its viability for investors.
“The discussion must hold if you don’t want the BRT system to collapse like the LSTC and other public transportation arrangements,” he said.
The MD said Primero, 100 per cent privately-owned, had been paying certain percentage of its revenue to the state government giving it the exclusive right to use the dedicated BRT lanes constructed by the government.
Tinubu, however, noted that there had not been any increase in bus fares in the last eight years, despite continuous rise in its operational costs.
“Our biggest challenge is the naira devaluation. We borrow a lot of money in dollars; we import parts in dollars and when the naira nose-dived, our debts doubled and the cost of parts we use has doubled,” he said.