BY OYE AGUNBIADE
Akure, the ondo state capital is no doubt one of the fastest growing cities in the south western part of Nigeria with a population above 500,000.
Being the state capital and once adjudged millenium city of the year , Akure had consistently witnessed influx of people since its creation in 1976 as government presence and business owners added to the existing native population.
To this end , areas initially considered outskirts and undeveloped have over the years become residential with people living in the areas against all hurdles navigating to the heart of the state capital for business and commercial activities.
Akure by this and many other factors would in no distant future be juxtaposed with lagos and Ibadan whose mode of transportation metamorphosed from taxis and the popular Danfos to BRT buses.
The unthinkable however about the status of Akure, the Ondo state capital is that it has been without mass transit buses needed for a 21st century developing metropolitan city .
How therefore has the population been able to cope with this, and of what benefit would a mass intra-transit bus system be to the residents of Akure?
Some residents living in these outskirts, Orita Obele , Oke Odu , Onigaari , Shagari village , Idanre road , Oda , Ijoka, Aule , Igoba and many others who spoke with Radio Nigeria expressed the difficulty they encounter on daily basis with transportation.
One of them Mojisola Ogunlade lamented how passengers suffer at Oja Oba market in the bid to get taxi to Aule. Mojisola who said she had on many occasion cancelled appointments in the heart of the state capital because she couldnt get taxi on time from her neighbourhood said the state capital has grown beyond having only taxis as mode of transportation.
Another resident Mrs Dupe Ayegbusi living faraway OSRC explained that transportation should be the least of things that would increase stress among the residents. Mrs Ayegbusi who is a nurse noted that staying too long in the sun for taxis which hardly navigate long distance and exorbitant charges during this trying economic times haven’t been going down well on people.
On her part, miss Folasade Olomofe said apart from the aesthetic beauty a mass intra transit bus system will add to the state capital, it will reduce accidents as well as transport cost and limit the number of vehicles on the road
The residents who pleaded with ondo state government to include mass transit buses into its budget also pointed out the need to reconstruct Akure road network in order to make the routes accessible when bus transportation arrives.
An economist , Dr Mike Akanbi and Mr Toyin Bola who spoke on expected impact of a bus transit initiative on existing taxis drivers argued that mixed reactions were expected when new development take off in any area. Dr Akanbi explained that a monopoly means of transportation is not good enough fornthe state capital noted that having buses will bring healthy competition, creativity and reduce price of transportation.
The duo of Akanbi and Bola said the taxi drivers should not see such as threat to their means of livelihood but become strategic and creative in mapping the city and identifying where their taxis are more needed as buses too wont access every area.
Reacting , the special adviser to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Transport, Mr Tobi Ogunleye admitted that there were transportation challenges in Akure but maintained that the solution to such challenges differ depending on certain factors.
Ogunleye while being optimistic of a near future with mass transit buses in the state however submitted that solution to transportaion hiccup in Akure may not be similar to that of Lagos and ibadan
Mr Ogunleye who further drew attention to the ongoing Ijoka road dualisation in Akure said the present administration’s road infrastructural development would make abandoned routes accessible soon.
The special adviser however expressed concern over funding and management of such buses as being experienced with the school shuttle buses due to dwindling economy adding that this might not also go down well with taxi drivers.
Other respondents who spoke with radio Nigeria however said with the growing population in the state capital , having an intra mass transit buses will be beneficial economically thus the goverment should start considering a master transportation plan for Akure as Ondo State city centre.