When Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu started his term as a Governor, nearly 10 million people were living in Lagos, Nigeria. The city faced several transport problems such as congestion, noise and pollution. The existing public transport systems were not safe, reliable or efficiently organized; roads were not planned to accommodate a functional traffic system. To address this issue, Governor Tinubu supported the creation of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), tasked to develop a strategy to address the transport needs of the city. One outcome of this work was the development of the first bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Africa, built in just 15 months at a cost of US$ 1.7 million per km.
Key to this success was the strong leadership of Governor Tinubu in promoting the development of the BRT system in a holistic way by investing in infrastructure, reorganizing the management of the bus industry, financing new buses, training drivers and enforcing the rules for its safe operation. The success of the Lagos BRT system exceeded expectations, eventually carrying over three times the projected number of people, leading to further investment and development of the system with additional buses and more routes served. The Lagos BRT system offers considerable gains to people who not only save on travel cost and travel time, but also are safer.
At a time when most cities were pursuing automobile-dependent urban transport planning, Governor Tinubu’s leadership in promoting mass public transport represented a radical and visionary shift towards safer, cleaner and calmer cities. In his own words: “The mass transit option for public transportation remains one of the drivers of growth for Lagos and must continue to top the agenda.”