Fuel subsidy: Sanwo-Olu announces palliative measures

…Governor approves 50% fare reduction in BRT ride, waterways transport

…Injects more buses to transport workers

…Vulnerable families to get food packs

Lagos State Government has rolled out relief measures to cushion the current hardship being faced by residents as a result of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, rising from the State’s Security Council meeting held on Monday in Alausa, announced a 50 per cent fare reduction across the State-owned public transportation services, effective Wednesday.

Commuters using BRT buses and other public transport means operated by Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY) will enjoy the fare cut.

The Governor disclosed that operators in the informal transport sector (commercial drivers) would be embarking on a similar move towards reducing the cost of transportation, noting that commercial operators in Lagos had agreed to cut their fares by 25 per cent.

Sanwo-Olu said the palliative measures would be sustained pending the outcome of the Federal Government’s decision on a number of relief measures it is planning for citizens to reduce the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

Lagos, the Governor said, has procured and taken delivery of new high-capacity buses to raise the fleet of vehicles conveying civil servants from their homes to office and back. He said the buses would be deployed on Wednesday, while unutilised buses in the public fleet would be deployed to complement the public transport operation.

Sanwo-Olu said: “In the course of State Security Council meeting today, we reviewed the current economic situation that we have in the country, especially as it affects our residents in Lagos. We have had extensive consultations with all the stakeholders in our transport sector, both formal and informal. We have come to the conclusion which both the State Government and the stakeholders will be supporting.

“Immediately from Wednesday, all public transport services under the control of LAMATA will be plying all routes across Lagos at 50 per cent fare rebate of the current rate. Route configuration and new fare validation are currently being done ahead of the kick-off of the palliative measures. Commercial operators in informal transport services will be rolling out their fare reduction plan, which is about 25 per cent. They are meeting with themselves on the modality as we speak.

“We have also concluded the arrangement to increase the fleet of our staff buses conveying workers to their offices and homes. We have procured more buses to achieve this objective and the vehicle are being supplied already. We are waiting to get the required number before deploying the vehicles to various arms in the public service. Extra buses will be deployed back to public transport system to complement the services.”

Sanwo-Olu said plans had been concluded with various stakeholders to distribute food items to vulnerable people in the State.

The intervention, he said, will be done through effective distribution channels of stakeholders, including civil society organisations, Local Government authorities, Community Development Associations (CDAs), Community Development Councils (CDCs), churches, mosques and traditional organisations.

The move, Sanwo-Olu said, are the immediate priorities decided by the Government to cushion the impact and stabilise the conditions of ordinary citizens.

“We will be sending regular food items people consume daily, such as rice, beans, garri and all food products that can help cushion the effects of the current hardship on our people. All the purchases of the food items will be done locally to empower local food suppliers and keep the benefits of the intervention within the local food market value chain,” the Governor said.

Sanwo-Olu urged the private sector to take similar actions to help their workers cope in the current situation.

Responding to question, the Governor said: “In January, without being prodded, Lagos State Government increased the salaries of its workers because we knew the cost of living had gone up. We knew it’s a lot on the people. We didn’t wait for anybody to take this decision; our staff are benefiting from it today.

“With these measures, we are being proactive as we can and be as responsible as we can to ensure that the Government shows its human side towards the people. Anything that is required of us to do in cushioning the situation, we will not hesitate to do. Our Government is ready to make life bearable for our citizens at this critical time.”

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa, shared report on security activities across the State, noting that the Lagos Police Command had arrested 260 suspects through the newly formed Operation Flush.

The progress, the Lagos police boss said, would be sustained by increased surveillance in some flashpoints to safeguard the safety of residents.

Owohunwa urged residents to go about their lawful businesses, warning that anyone who made attempt to disrupt the peace would have himself to blame.

In the coming weeks, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the State Government would be supporting security operatives with equipment and tools to assist in keeping Lagos safe.

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