The recruitment process for drivers of the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) needs a complete overhaul as recent cases of avoidable fatal accidents involving BRT buses in Lagos are becoming very embarrassing. The mental stability of most of the drivers of the public transportation service in a megacity like Lagos needs regular checks. A situation where innocent lives are needlessly lost to road accidents largely caused by these roguish drivers can no longer be acceptable.
There have been at least two fatal accidents involving the Lagos BRT in the past two months. The first accident was recorded on Thursday, March 20 when a BRT bus conveying Lagos State Government civil servants and their relatives ran into a moving train at the PWD level crossing in Ikeja. No fewer than six persons were killed and about 79 others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the accident said to have been caused by a stubborn driver who simply refused warning to stop for the moving train.
Last Wednesday, April 19, almost a month after the Ikeja incident, an unidentified danfo driver lost his life, while his passengers sustained serious injuries in another accident involving his bus and a Lagos BRT bus in the Ogudu end of the Oworonshoki – Berger Expressway.
Although accounts of the latest accident differ, an eyewitness account alleged that the BRT driver actually caused the accident by attempting to chase away the erring danfo driver from the BRT lane, thus hitting his vehicle from behind, causing it to somersault several times and spilling the smoked fish it was carrying on the road. An angry mob present at the scene of the accident was said to be so furious with the BRT driver that they set the bus ablaze.
BRT drivers are generally known to consider themselves as kings on Lagos roads because they drive vehicles owned by the Lagos State Government. However, when this attitude is taken to the extreme, resulting in constant loss of lives and property, as witnessed nowadays almost on a monthly basis, then something drastic has to be done to stop the ugly trend.
A good background check is necessary for future recruitment into the pool to prevent hoodlums and notorious drivers from being taken into the system. While the BRT system should not be a rehabilitation centre for hoodlums and political thugs in need of settlement, driving the Lagos BRT should not also be a job ”for the boys.”
Lagosians are yet to put behind them the shock of the case of the BRT driver, Andrew Ominikoron, currently on trial for allegedly raping and killing his passenger, Oluwabamise Ayanwole, in 2022.
Ominikoron, who initially fled Lagos and ran for cover somewhere in Ogun State after committing the crime, was later discovered to have, allegedly, been raping his passengers in secluded places before he was finally busted.
Sadly, his employer, the Lagos BRT, has not denied him, though he has been released to face trial, following a public outcry over what was initially perceived as protection for a man that was declared wanted by the police for a serious criminal case. It is unfortunate and highly embarrassing that such a character would be found in the service of a public transportation service in Lagos, in the first place.
We call on the Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL), operator of the Lagos BRT, to step up its game and purge itself of all roguish and notorious elements in its system. The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), which is the government regulator of the Lagos BRT, also has to come in and properly regulate the system with good code of practice and operational guidelines as being done in other climes.
It is very shameful and disgraceful when the public loses confidence in the operations of a state-government outfit to the extent of targeting its facilities and buses for vandalisation at the slightest provocation. The dream of turning Lagos into a mega city and a true centre of excellence will remain a long dream if hoodlums and rogues are retained in the system and are allowed to continue to rubbish the good works of the government.