If there’s one symbol that defines Nigeria’s economic hub of Lagos it’s the yellow ‘danfo’ mini-bus, the closest thing to public transport in the chaotic, sprawling metropolis.
However, on Monday, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said he plans to banish the buses by the end of this year because they are “not acceptable and befitting for a megacity”.
Ambode’s drive is the latest attempt in a seemingly never-ending campaign to tame the wild streets of Lagos, which is renowned for its traffic gridlock and crumbling infrastructure.
The governor’s goal is to replace the buses — as well as motorcycle taxis and three-wheeled motorised rickshaws — with a modern public transportation system.
“When I wake up in the morning and see all these yellow buses and see okada (motorbike) and all kinds of tricycles and then we claim we are a megacity, that is not true and we must acknowledge that that is a faulty connectivity that we are running.
“We want to banish yellow buses this year,” he said in a speech.
“We must address the issue of connectivity that makes people to move around with ease and that is where we are going.”
Like other fast-growing African cities, Lagos, which is home to some 20 million people, has seen its population boom without the infrastructure to keep up with demand.
The first phase of a rapid transport rail system was originally due to open in 2014 and then in December last year, while there are even plans for a cable car system.
The buses may not be pretty — many have doors missing and spew noxious clouds of exhaust fumes — while their drivers seem only vaguely aware of the highway code, indicators and the brake pedal.
But as a cheap form of transport, strictly enforced by a daredevil conductor often found hanging off the side of the bus, they are the preferred form of travel for many workers.