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Environmentally friendly electric and gas-powered buses and taxis get Maiduguri residents going places

20 December 2023
Reading time: 5 minutes

In the second phase of his massive transit scheme, Borno State governor launches 107 electric and gas-powered buses and taxis to help make transport more affordable.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has launched a fleet of 107 gas and electric-powered buses and taxis in Maiduguri as part of the second phase of Borno State governor Babagana Zulum’s massive metro transport scheme.

The ceremony took place at the palace of Shehu Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Al-Amin El-kanemi on Monday, December 11.

The vehicles were launched publicly on Monday, December 18.

When Tinubu announced that the fuel subsidy would be officially discontinued from July 1, petrol prices in Nigeria skyrocketed, drastically affecting the cost of virtually all commodities which also soared to new levels.

Poor and indigent Nigerians, already squeezed by the high prices of goods caused by the escalating foreign interest rate, took a hard hit. Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) could no longer put food on their tables. They were lucky if they could afford to feed their families just one meal a day. Many went to sleep for nights on end with nothing in their bellies. They were certainly not equipped to deal with even higher prices.

Zulum realised how hard the price increases were hitting inhabitants of the state and in September he decided to invest massively in a mass transit scheme, the first phase of which was the unveiling in September of a new fleet of 70 buses for metro transport.

Mallaam Isa Gusau, spokesman for the governor, said at the time the initiative was primarily intended to alleviate the high cost of daily commuting.

The initiative brought down the price of petrol, but it was still too much for many of the people in Borno State.

On Monday last week, when Tinubu commissioned the new vehicles at the Shehu’s Palace, Zulum was reported as saying: “Mr President, after you announced the subsidy removal and your consequent directive to governors to provide immediate palliative, in Borno State we decided to invest massively in a mass transit scheme.”

The launch of the gas and electric buses and taxis was an exciting event in Borno State.

The 107 vehicles were converted to use electricity and gas to enable the use of low-cost energy sources and, in so doing, provide cheaper transportation for citizens of the state.

After week of testing, the new vehicles were launched publicly in Maiduguri on Monday, December 18.

Residents were eager to try out the new vehicles and their reaction was extremely positive.

Baba Massa told RNI that the vehicles looked “different”. He was delighted to report that “people do not have to pay so much for transport now”.

Zarah Shettima said: “When I go out, I don’t use the tricycles [Keke Napep] because they are too costly. I use the buses the Borno State government gave to us. I feel comfortable and I can afford the transport which is ₦50. A tricycle costs up to ₦150. I am excited to try out the new gas and electric vehicles. I think they will really help the people of Maiduguri who are struggling with such high prices. I think the new vehicles will help to ease our hardships.”

Fatima Usman said there were very few government buses in her area and that, when they arrived, everyone clamoured to get a seat. That meant she usually lost out and had to use a tricycle.

“I often use tricycles which cost three times more than the buses. My friends use the buses to go to school and it makes me sad because I cannot do the same. I hope the new cars launched by the governor will reach our area too.”

Mustapha Musty said he was “very much happy with the development and innovation we are getting in the state”.
“I am grateful the government is making an effort to help residents in their time of need. The new gas and electric-powered vehicles will provide cheap transport for citizens, most of whom are struggling because of the removal of the fuel subsidy.”

Zainab Mohammed Chellube, a lecturer in the chemistry department of the University of Maiduguri, emphasised the importance of renewable energy.

“These new vehicles are a great addition and will help to tackle the climate crisis. They will bring development and growth to the state. The whole world is trying to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy systems that use electricity, solar, water or wind.”

She told RNI that the problem of climate change was not affecting only the state or the country.

“It is a global problem,” she said. “Borno State has taken a bold step to provide transportation that runs on electricity and gas. Not only will it help in the development of the state, it will also help to put an end to pollution.

“It’s a great step to tackle the climate crisis. It will also help to provide much-needed jobs for young people who are graduating from engineering, chemistry and other faculties of the university. So there will be job opportunities. It will give the many young people a chance to find work. And it will also help to cushion the hardships caused by the removal of the fuel subsidy. The skyrocketing petrol prices have led to many hardships for the people in the state.”

She said there were a number of talented engineers who would be able to ensure the gas and electric-powered vehicles were kept in excellent working order.

At the commissioning of the vehicles, Tinubu announced that the government was planning to set up an electric vehicle plant, which would not only create employment opportunities but also ease transportation challenges even further.

The 107 vehicles comprise 35 30-seater, gas-powered Coaster buses, 12 15-seater gas-powered Hummer buses, 10 50-seater gas-powered mass transit buses and 50 four-seater electric-powered taxi vehicles.



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