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Commuters relish, agonise over Oshodi transport interchange

The sight of the neatly arranged and well-designed kiosks at Terminal One of the multi-million naira Oshodi Mega Bus Terminus attracted the attention of Mr. Cletus Obianke, who was at the facility to board a luxurious bus en route to the South East.

It was the first time that Obianke was setting foot on the bus station since it was open to the public, after former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode changed the skyline of the once very notorious location.

So, for Obianke, gone were the days that he would board luxurious buses travelling to the South East at Bolade Bus Stop, Oshodi. He recalled that those days, there was stiff competition between sanity and insanity at the place, just as genuine travellers and criminals masquerading as travellers were competing for space.

Indeed, the atmosphere and the ambience at the Terminal One of the Mega Bus Terminus, Oshodi, he confessed, was totally different because there was sanity, orderliness, and rest of mind, as security operatives, including plain-clothed ones kept eagle-eyed watch on activities of hoodlums or sundry characters.

Initial booking formalities done with, Obianke picked up his boarding ticket and was, thereafter ushered into the departure lounge upstairs to await the departure time.

While at the departure lounge, he felt the need to nibble at something. And he was directed to the terminus’ basement where a variety of cuisines, as well as pastries and drinks, except alcohol are on offer. Souvenirs, clothes as well as sundry items were also on display.

The orderly arrangement of kiosks, the general atmosphere of calm, and the sanity that is apparent also drew applause from Ibukunoluwa Fasoranti, who, like Obianke was using the facility for the first time.

Fasoranti, who applauded the Ambode-led administration for initiating such a facility said “this is not different from what you see in the developed world.

“How we managed to contend with the total nuisance, which Oshodi of old was synonymous with, is still something that I am still battling to come to terms with. Whether you like it or not, stepping into the terminus feels you with a sense of pride because a high-utility facility like this is what is needed to change intra and inter-state commuters’ experience,” he added.

Fasoranti’s sentiments is shared by Adefemi Adeniran, who insists that such a facility government ought to have been put in place a long time ago to protect commuters from the ugly experiences that some of them had with street urchins in the hitherto rowdy Oshodi.

“Five years ago while trying to board a bus at Bolade Bus Stop, I had a very nasty experience with touts, which I would prefer not to recall. But I can tell you that the new look Oshodi and the terminus have, to a reasonable extent, brought a sense of organisation to the place, a major transportation hub in the state.

“Since this terminus was opened for use, most commuters that stop by, or change vehicles at Oshodi have heaved a sigh of relief because they’ve had a better deal, by far better than what used to be the case. But my biggest worry is that our gross lack of maintenance culture is already beginning to show on the facility. If not urgently addressed, it will soon become a skeleton of its former self,” Adeniran said.

He continued: “What the Lagos State government has succeeded in doing here is to facelift the Oshodi environment unlike what obtained in the past where “crime and criminality reigned. First, the beautiful design of the structure is made more elegant by the multi-coloured drawings that stand each kiosk out. As of now, there are over 60 kiosks in the basement of Terminal One, where passengers travelling out of the state can refresh themselves. This is unlike the old Oshodi, where confusion reigned.

“Second, the traders and commuters confessed that there is maximum security in the place that the commuters that fall victim of circumstances can sleep over night inside the park without being molested. The sale of alcohol and other herbal alcoholic beverages are banned substances within Terminal One.

When The Guardian visited Terminal One of the Oshodi Mega Bus Terminus, last Friday, Adeniran’s fears were manifest as some of facilities within the complex have either packed up, or are packing up.

For instance, the escalator beside in the main business hall, where ticketing booths are has packed up with a caution tape wound round it for months now.

The restrooms in the terminal are also inaccessible and the passage leading to the section blocked.

One of the agents, who sell tickets that admit commuters to the restrooms used his table and chair to block the entrance to reinforce the out-of-order message.

The young man had a field day redirecting those that throng the place to use the convenience to go over to Terminal Two. Each users pays N100.00 before using the restroom.

Because of the state of the convenience, the immediate surroundings of the terminal is constantly flooded with streams of urine, while the stench of the waste product continually wafts across.

When the sun is high, the passengers’ waiting hall (upstairs) is as hot as an oven as some of the air-conditioning units are no longer functioning. Passengers are usually imperiled to stay there for long because of the searing heat.

However, some of the traders at the complex are appealing to the government to reduce the N7, 500 rental for the kiosks, which they describe as too exorbitant for a kiosk of that size.

One of the traders who didn’t want her name in print said: “We would really appreciate if the government reduce the rent for the kiosks. It is because of the high rent that you sometimes see two or three people joining resources to pay for a kiosk.

“When this happens, each of the traders just displays two or three items of what they sell depending, of course, on what they contribute.”

Another trader volunteered: “I share my kiosk with two other people. I paid N4, 000 while the other two share the remaining. Of course, I used the larger space in the kiosk.”

Reacting to this, the Project Manager, Mr. Ibitoye Ayodele, said the Managing Director of Planet Project Limited, Mr. Biodun Otunla, came up with the idea of strategically placing kiosks within the complex as a way of curbing the excesses of hawkers within the complex.

“The kiosks that we have in Terminal One are for small business owners. In Terminal Three, we have kiosks for medium scale businesses owners like pharmacies. Those ones are to pay annually unlike in Terminal One where they pay monthly.”

Commenting on security in the terminal, he said: “We have undisclosed security personnel around. They don’t wear uniform. They are mobile policemen. Once we have any issue on ground, they swiftly move in. They work in shifts for 24 hours. We also have private security personnel that add to the multiple layers of security that we have on ground.”

Cleaning of the facility, and the convenience, he said are outsourced, adding that the money paid by the public is for maintenance of the toilet facilities. But commuters are worried about the poor job done by the handlers of the toilet, which has led to them most of them being out of use.

Ayodele explained that one of the reasons that maintaining the facility looks uphill is because over 20, 000 people use the parks daily with about 6, 000 equipment.

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