The assembly of the Yutong air-conditioned buses manufactured in China may begin in Nigeria by September, according to the Managing Director of the Blue Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) franchise operator – Primero Transit Service Limited Mr Fola Tinubu.
Yutong buses are currently being used by the BRT operator on the Ikorodu-CMS route in Lagos.
Speaking while conducting the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) round the company’s facility at Majidun, Ikorodu, Tinubu said the company would be flagging off initial assembly at the Leyland Manufacturing plant in Ibadan.
He said the plan was to take-off at Ibadan by September, while the company would be accelerating on the construction of its own assembly plant which would be sited around Badagry axis of the Lagos State. He said full operation would begin at the company’s assembly plant by last quarter of 2019.
“Though our plan is to establish an assembly plant around Badagry, but since this will take a fairly longer time and we are committed to beginning assembly that this year, we will commence from the Leyland Motors premises at Ibadan, from where we would be assembling the buses pending when we would be able to roll out from our facility,” Tinubu said.
Besides the assembly plant, Tinubu said the company will by third quarter of this year introduce e-ticket on all its routes to reduce the pains of its passengers.
Also within the period, Tinubu added that Primero would unveil an ultra-modern multi-level five-storey car park as part of its park and ride initiative, aimed at encouraging more Lagosians living around Ikorodu to embrace public transportation.
“We are committed to changing the paradigm of public transportation in Lagos State and we would stop at nothing in our bid to ensure that we give Lagosians a better travelling experience,” he said.
He said the company had installed a wireless local area internet connectivity (WIFI) on all its buses to ensure that as many passengers are connected to the internet to carry out their businesses, even as he disclosed plans to commence a BRT Television transmission that would be streaming live inside the buses next year.
He said the fare increase introduced by the company earlier in the month, was to enable the company meet its obligations and remain in business.
He urged Lagosians to continue to patronise its service as the company is determined to make their travel time pleasurable.
Tinubu told his guests that the new fare was not to inflict more pain on Lagosians, but a decision foisted on it by the harsh economic realities under which it has to operate in the last one year.
The TUC Lagos State chapter Chairman Mr Francis Ogunremi said the TUC leadership were happy and had been better informed on the need for the new fare regime approved for the operator by the state government.
Giving the background of the visit, Ogunremi said the union had written to the governor demanding explanation on how the government would approve a fare increase of the BRT operations in the state, and in response the government had facilitated their visit to the headquarters of the operator to see for themselves the operations of the transport company.
The labour leader said after going round what the company had in place, they were more than convinced that the company meant well and ought to be given more support by Lagosians.
He said, “Initially, we thought this company is owned by the government. Now that we have come and have been taken round what this company has on ground, we are of no doubt that the increase is dictated by facts beyond their control and Lagosians should continue to patronise them.”