More than 4,000 members of the Bus Conductor Association of Nigeria (BCAN), have registered with the Lagos State Drivers Institute (LASDRI), for training and accreditation as part of the state’s transport reform.
President of the association, Isreal Adeshola, disclosed this in Lagos, on Tuesday.
According to him, the development will enable bus conductors function as stipulated in the rules and regulations of the state government in line with the transportation reform.
It would be recalled that BCAN said its members in Lagos State would wear uniforms and badges starting from January 1, 2018, for security and effective service delivery. But eight months after, the association is yet to fulfil its directive.
The association, which was launched, last year under the affiliation of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), inaugurated the official uniforms for members of BCAN, Lagos State chapter on August 3, 2017.
At the launch in Lagos, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the introduction of official uniforms for bus conductors will ensure safety and bring more development to the nation’s transport sector.
Adeshola explained that part of the reasons for training its members is to ensure adequate security of passengers and good customer relationship.
He said that wearing uniforms with identification numbers would ensure accountability and bring about a sense of responsibility among the members.
Adeshola said that the association is working towards eradicating the menace of using under-age youths as bus conductors across the country.
He announced that persons from 18 years and above are qualified to join the association.
The president added that any minor found operating as a bus conductor should be arrested.
Despite the lofty objectives, The Guardian checks show that nothing is being implemented, as many conductors within the metropolis are still wearing personal clothing to carry out their daily business.
Some of the conductors revealed that they are neither aware of the initiative while some claimed they heard about it but haven’t been contacted.
A conductor, Sunday Ajae, who shuttles from Mile 2 to Oshodi, and back said he never heard about the BCAN plan since he began operation on the route last year.
According to Ajae, drivers usually select whom they want to conduct their activities for them.
A driver, Dele Sunday, who plies Oshodi to Ejigbo daily, said such initiative should be carried out through drivers who understand the terrain.
Sunday noted that some of the conductors are dubious, stating that it only takes an experienced driver to ascertain which conductor is fit to work with them.
However, mixed reactions continued to trail the registration of BCAN, even as Lagos Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Tajudeen Agbede, said the move remained “a right step in the wrong direction.”
In a chat with The Guardian, Agbede argued that the issue of conductors wearing uniforms and badges is not the business of BCAN. “The directive is between the union and the Ministry of Transportation.
“Because it is from bus conductor, you become a driver; without being a conductor you can’t become a driver, apart from going to driving school as long as it concerns driving commercial buses.
Agbede said anybody who is a conductor is under the control of the driver. “No body can bring himself as conductor. We have discussed a lot with the association as regards this issue. We cannot accept them because we are in charge of the drivers and also in charge of the conductors.
“I am a professional driver, I graduated from being a bus conductor to become a driver. How can conductors separate themselves when they are under the leadership of the drivers? If there is anything pertaining conductors wearing uniforms, we would work among ourselves and the government,”Agbede stated.
In his response, National General Secretary, BCAN, Francis Odinukaeze, said conductors have started wearing uniform. “It is an issue from last year that we announced that by January this year, conductors would start wearing uniforms and as a matter of fact they have started wearing uniform.”
Odinukaeze admitted that as a growing organisation there are bound to be hiccups and antagonism, but nevertheless, claimed that some his members have been wearing it along the Iyana Iba to Iyana Ipaja axis of the state, specifically for the yellow buses.
Although he agreed that the uniform is not yet as popular as expected, stating that it is still in its early stage.
In his words: “We have no problems with the NURTW. Our functions are not the same. NURTW are for drivers and we are for conductors with different roles and we do not expect to take any permission from them before we take decisions.
“We as a body, the conductors, have a right to conduct ourselves irrespective of the fact that the driver is the boss or not. Even in government establishment, we have unions. We are test running the uniform for now,” Odinukaeze said.
It is expected that when the reform become effective, the rate of crimes and criminal activities related cases such as ‘one-chance’ through commercial buses in the metropolis would be drastically reduced and the customer relationship with passengers would be enhanced.