Denounces Report of Looming Crisis and Tension at Oshodi Transport Interchange Over Service Charge Review
One of the dailies had reported recently that crisis loomed at the OTI following an increase in service charge from the usual N600 to N2000 which took effect from Thursday, February 1, 2024.
The newspaper reported that following this development, the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) had sent a protest letter to the Lagos State Government through the Managing Director, Planet Project Limited which operates the terminal.
But in a sharp reaction on Tuesday, the management of OTI, in a statement issued by Ade Ibileke, Director, Operations and Maintenance, said its attention had been drawn to a report published in a national daily recently on a review of service at the public transport infrastructure.
It lamented that the report erroneously dwelt on the imminent looming crisis at OTI, West Africa’s largest public transport infrastructure built to enable commuters to connect different parts of Lagos and Nigeria without difficulty.
“Contrary to the report, we unequivocally state that there is no tension, looming crisis or any trouble at the Interchange. Commercial activities and transport operations are going on in the interchange seamlessly.
“The interchange has been operating successfully since 2019 without any major incident including fire, robbery, or armed attack and the facility was even successfully secured during the EndSARS crisis in 2020.
“OTI daily caters for over 20,000 passengers with about 45 bus operating companies [National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) – 1, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) – 13, Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA) – 18 and LAMATA Franchise bus operating companies (BOC) – 13] and over 70 businesses,” it said.
According to the statement, the basis of the report was a commercial dispute between OTI, ALBON and PTONA, which had been operating at OTI for four consecutive years, saying this need not draw media attention “because we have an internal dispute resolution mechanism solely set up to resolve such an issue. This kind of disagreement is not uncommon in an environment of multiple operators and the prevalent escalating prices in Nigeria.”
The OTI management explained that the increase in operating expenses and the cost of its critical inputs influenced its decision to review its service charge upward.
“For instance, the price of diesel has risen by 214 per cent from N350 to N1,100; petrol by 255 per cent from N169 to N600 and refuse disposal by 130 per cent from N 650,000 to N 1.5 million.
“All these operating expenses do not include the costs of facility management (cleaning, cleaning materials, security, etc.), repairs and maintenance costs and other sundry, which have astronomically gone up in recent times,” it stated.
The OTI management said discussions commenced with all transport operators at the Interchange on the need to increase charges due to the escalating costs of inputs and increased operational expenses and the need to ensure that the Interchange is able to continue to render transportation and commercial services to the commuting public in a safe and secure environment.
It said some operators under PTONA have had the discussions and negotiations concluded and have resumed transport operations at the OTI, saying that “there are other negotiations ongoing with all business partners at the interchange to ensure sustainable and continued operations.”
“It is however surprising to read a report of the looming crisis at the interchange without finding out what happened from the management of the facility. There was never a looming crisis at the interchange, and neither is there any crisis currently. The report, thus, is nothing, but a misrepresentation of facts.
“Again, we state that what happened at the interchange is purely a commercial issue, which will be resolved with continued discussions and negotiations with all parties concerned,” the OTI management stated.
The management assured all commuters, the general public and all its stakeholders that there is no crisis or tension at the interchange, as the OTI remains peaceful, safe and secure with utter commitment to serving commuters optimally.