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Abuja begins new upscale bus ride but leaves doubts on its sustenance



Nigeria’s capital city administration, on Wednesday, introduces a new commercial bus ride outfitted with modern comfort and gadgets, even digitizing its payment system.

But onlookers having begun a countdown to when the system will go the way of other bus rides before it.

Introduction new bus ride systems to manage Abuja’s chaotic intra city transport is as old as the nation’s capital itself.

Every Federal Capital Territory, FCT, minister gets to bring in his own bus project.

But Nyesom Wike, hard talking and equally hard ball playing minister hasn’t hidden his intent to make a difference by stamping a definite transport system in Abuja.

So when he rolled out 15 ultra modern 60 passenger capacity buses as the beginning of the  pilot phase of his own transport system, there has been expected buzzes of skepticism, hope, and excitement all day.

“What haven’t we seen before in this Abuja,” expressed Onobume Valentine, a teacher, in his 15th year in Abuja.

“Every FCT minister comes with his own design and approach so its hardly surprising,” he said.

Before coming to Abuja, he lived in Lagos; witnessed the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, in the former nation’s capital.

“But BRT lasted this long because it incorporated a great deal of private sector participation.

But FCT administration says that this would be different what Abuja used to know.

It’s an Intra-City transportation with innovative technology, they say.

It has also introduced free Wi-Fi, Air-condition, use of digital payments to eliminate corruption, with special security surveillance for passengers’ security.

These innovation is quite novel, shows that the administration is willing to build on past failures.

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FCT government workers like its parent service at the federal is a cesspit of corruption.

It has almost always been responsible for the death of previous transport services.

But Director of FCT’s Transport for Abuja’s Project, Dr. Yakubu Terry, is undeterred.

Speaking during the commissioning of the initial batch of fifteen buses that will ply various parts of the capital city, he said that the scheme is a public/private partnership (PPP) programme.

“Our vision for Transport for Abuja is not just about buses and routes, it’s a commitment to building a connected, sustainable, and efficient transportation system that will elevate the quality of life for every resident.

“We envision a city where commuting is seamless, where people can rely on a modern and reliable transit system, and where transportation becomes a facilitator of progress.

“To turn this vision into reality, ‘Transport for Abuja’ has devised a strategic plan that focuses on key city areas and their environs and by connecting the dots efficiently.

“We aim to create a web of convenience that threads through the fabric of Abuja; our strategy is not just about the number of buses on the road, it’s about creating a comprehensive and accessible network that serves the diverse needs of our community.

“We will prioritize lucrative routes and leverage technology to optimize routes, reduce wait times, and enhance the overall commuting experience; as we strive for efficiency, a crucial aspect of our strategy is the introduction of cutting-edge digital payment offerings,” he said.

The transport officer said that the schemes cutting edge is its willingness to deploy technology for transparency and accountability.

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According to Dr Yakubu Terry, passengers’ convenience is paramount and the introduction of various digital payment methods and user-friendly mobile apps, will ensure that passengers can effortlessly purchase tickets and thereby eliminate the need for physical cash, reduce transaction time and speed up the boarding process with seamless and efficient experience for valued riders.

Good plan.

But will it work, ask many. Maybe only time can tell.



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