BY DONS EZEAt different locations in Enugu Coal City – from Independence Layout, to Rangers Avenue, to Presidential Road, Obiagu Road, Ogui Road, Zik Avenue, Uwani, Agbani Road, etc., we observe the springing up of new bus stops where passengers on transit take shelter while waiting to board vehicles that will take them to their various destinations.

But unlike the previous bus shelters that we had before, which were constructed with make-shift materials that weré prone to vandalization, the new bus stops were constructed with beautifully designed concrete blocks, roofed with aluminum sheets and pvc ceiling. They are well ventilated and fixed with comfortable seats.

When in October last year, the #EndSARS protesters took the nation by storm and paralyzed every aspect of the country’s social and economic life, everybody was shocked at the level of destruction visited on both public and private property by hoodlums and miscreants that hijacked the protest.

In Enugu Coal City, apart from the many public and private buildings that were callously destroyed by these hoodlums, virtually all the bus stops in the town were equally vandalized. You then begin to wonder what bus stops, where the kegs of society usually take shelter, had got to do with the demand by the protesters for the dismantling of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS)? We could only see the destruction of these bus stops as sheer wickedness, madness, callousness and irresponsibility on the part of whoever were involved.

However, like they used to tell us: “every disappointment is a blessing”, (whether true or false), the Enugu State government has started reconstructing these bus stops, but in a more durable and comfortable form. At each of these bus stops, we observed that there were serious works going on there. We were made to understand that there are over 242 of these bus stops currently under construction throughout Enugu Coal City.

We therefore thank Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for embarking on this laudable project. This shows that the governor is in tune with the needs of the downtrodden in society, people at the grassroots, who make use of these bus stops.

The Nigerian transport system, in particular, land transportation, is another way of punishing those who already are on the ground. It has no content or form, totally disorganized. Nobody cares about anything, both the government and the transport owners alike: about the comfort and welfare of passengers; about the state of the bus stations or motor parks; about the condition of the roads these vehicles ply; about the state of the vehicles themselves, etc.

All that the transport owners would be interested is how much they would be making from the high transport fares they charge, no matter how rickety their vehicles are; and for the government, their interest is the revenue they would be generating from the motor parks, even if half of the money would be entering into some private pockets.

You visit any bus stop or any motor park in Nigeria, what you see are disorderliness, confusion, chaos, bedlam, everything in disarray, with nobody control, safe some drunken, red-eyed motor park touts, who would be harassing passengers, intimidating them, and ripping them off their hard-earned money.

At many of these bus stops, hundreds of passengers would be amassing everywhere, looking weary and tired, and very often, with no roof over their heads. They would be standing for endless hours, at the mercy of downpour or the scorching sun, waiting for any moving object, called vehicle, that could take them to wherever they would want to go.

When eventually one or two vehicles surfaced, it would be the survival of the fittest, everybody rushing at the same time to get inside. Many people would be pushed aside, while only the strong would manage to climb in.

The construction of the new bus stops in Enugu therefore, may be the beginning of orderly transport arrangement in the Coal City, where passengers could sit comfortably, under a sheltered roof, waiting for the arrival of vehicles plying their particular routes. The people would no longer entertain the fear of rainfall, or the scorching sunshine.We thank the government for that.

Construction of bus stops is a feature of new urban settlements: places where passengers get down from their vehicles, or wait for some particular vehicles that would take them to their various destinations, under a covered roof. Such bus stops tend to reflect the level of consciousness of the people, or the needs of a particular society.

In some advanced societies, bus stops, apart from having comfortable sitting arrangements, also feature electronic passenger information system or information guide that would help passengers trace their way. Some less busy bus stops may also use a simple pole and flag to mark the location.

Bus stops in some locations are clustered together into transport hubs that may allow interchange between routes from nearby stops and with other public transport modes to maximize convenience.

The Enugu new bus stops therefore, is a big improvement, which no doubt, will be of immense benefit to all those who patronize public transport in the Coal City, and they are clearly in the majority.

Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI

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