By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
Planet Projects Limited (PPL), a transport development company in the country, is rapidly changing the face of transportation in Nigeria with its innovative approach to urban transport development and transport infrastructure delivery.
While the Oshodi Interchange project will go down in history as one of the biggest achievements in the company, the milestone recorded in public transport, most importantly, the delivery of functional transport infrastructure projects in Lagos that connect people and businesses to their destinations, has received accolades across the sector.
Before the arrival of Planet Projects, several efforts to connect the nooks and crannies of Lagos using public-private driven transport network schemes failed to achieve noticeable success. The experience of PPP in Lagos has been mixed.
According to Business Hallmark findings, while the Lekki-Epe Expressway awarded to Lekki Concession Company was able to hit the ground running, despite initial hiccups, other PPP arrangements such as the LAGBUS Transport scheme, as well as the concessioning of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway failed to achieve a significant result.
Checks revealed that LAGBUS currently has less than 50 operating buses in its fleet, down from 803 in 2012. Most of the buses are broken down and abandoned at different depots due to expensive and unsustainable contract maintenance policy.
However, since the birth of Planet Projects, there have been radical changes in the nation’s transportation sector. From Lagos to Rivers, Kogi, Delta and Ondo States, the firm has successfully executed landmark engineering projects. The company started operation with the provision of expertise in traffic engineering, urban renewal and infrastructure development across all transport modes including roads/bridges, Bus/BRT, rail, airports, water transport, traffic engineering designs, construction, as well as operations and management.
It later evolved from being a transport consulting company to a one-stop transport solutions company providing services across project identification, consulting, planning, designing, and execution.
Several years after, Planet Projects has emerged as one of the leading and fastest-growing construction companies in Nigeria, having successfully executed major engineering projects across the country. Its project portfolio is wide, ranging from roads, bridges, bus terminals, junction improvement works to traffic engineering schemes and more.
Some of the notable projects Planet Projects has executed include the Oshodi Transport Interchange, with three terminals; Ikeja Bus Terminal; Lokoja Mega Terminal; Omagwa Mega Bus Terminal; Ikeja Bus Depot; Lekki Junction Improvement Works; Alapere Dualised Road and Junction Improvement Works, Jakpa Junction Improvement Works; Enerhen Junction Improvement Works; Akure Urban Renewal Project; Lagos Strategic Transportation Master Plan (STMP) and the Lekki Ports Traffic Impact Assessment.
Others are the engineering design of corridor infrastructures for the Lagos BRT Lite; Traffic Impact Assessment for the Eko Atlantic City and the proposed Lekki Ports; Lekki Infrastructure Master Plan; Transport Master Plan for Lagos Metropolitan Area; Lagos Island Municipal Transport Service and feasibility studies and outline business case for the proposed Ibadan Circular Ring Road project.
They also include public transport infrastructure delivery covering Traffic System Management (TSM) measures; construction of dedicated bus lanes for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects; Mega-Bus Terminals; bus depot, pedestrian bridges, bus shelters and Junction Improvement Works (JIW), for Lagos, Rivers, Ondo and Delta States and public transport infrastructure delivery covering Traffic System Management (TSM) measures, among others.
Oshodi Transport Interchange
Before the constructing of the Oshodi Transport Interchange, the transit city, which is arguably the busiest transport hub in Nigeria with over 5,600 buses loading per day, spreading across 13 different motor parks and over 200,000 passengers boarding per day, lacked essential transport infrastructural facilities, such as walkways and bus shelters. It was characterised by scattered intra and inter-city bus parks, on-street loading and unloading of passengers.
However, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Lagos State government in 2016, Planet Projects designed and constructed the $70m Oshodi Transport Interchange, which was opened to the public after its commissioning in April 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Each of the three bus terminal, spanning 30,000 square metres, include standard facilities such as waiting areas, loading bays, ticketing stands, driver lounge, parking areas, rest rooms among others. The Interchange is made up of three multi-storey bus terminals with facilities such as waiting areas, loading bays, ticketing stands, drivers’ lounges, parking areas, conveniences, surveillance towers and CCTV gadgets.
Other features include accessible walkways, pedestrian bridges/skywalks which link the three terminals, shopping malls with street lighting and a dedicated security team on ground. The transport facility also incorporates a shopping mall and a hotel.
Omagwa Mega Bus Terminal
Before the construction of the Omagwa Mega Bus Terminal, bus parks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, were dispersed across major roads and had no considerations for passenger comfort, safety or security. They were largely unregulated with their activities spilling onto major roads and causing traffic congestion all around the Garden City.
However, in a quest to remove this traffic congestion and provide world-class transport infrastructure to ensure passenger comfort and safety, the state government, in conjunction with Planet Projects, conceived the Omagwa Mega Bus Terminals for development at the four nodes of the Port Harcourt City – Omagwa, Eleme, Oyigbo and Emouha.
Planet Projects, under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract, delivered the terminals at Omagwa and Eleme. Specific tasks conducted include transport and traffic studies, topographic surveys, geotechnical surveys, conceptual & detailed designs and construction of the Eleme and Omagwa Terminals. The projects were completed in 2009.
Enerhen Junction Improvement Works
Enerhen Junction is the bustling center of Warri, Delta State, and also the business and commercial hub of the city. Due to the volume of commercial activities at this junction, traffic congestion were common occurrences, typically taking about an hour to cross the junction. Enerhen Junction was notorious for congestion, high level of criminal activities, environmental problems, etc.
However, Planet Projects Limited subsequently developed the Junction Improvement concept, which basically optimised the junction by separating the various land-use activities –transport, commercial and pedestrian- and ensuring that all these activities could take place without any hindrances.
In providing engineering and construction services, PPL conducted traffic studies, capacity studies, topographic surveys, geotechnical surveys, conceptual and detailed designs and construction of the junction. The company also provided traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, bus lay-bys and shelters, junction channelisation, walkways, guard-rails and streetlights, totally transforming the junction.
The new Enerhen Junction which was completed in four months in 2013 has greatly improved traffic flow at Enerhen Junction since its completion.
Jakpa Junction Improvement Works
Jakpa Junction, formerly a roundabout, was a nightmare to commuters. This junction is the intersection of some of the busiest roads in Warri, Delta State, including Warri-Sapele Road, Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) and Jakpa Roads.
The junction is also adjacent to the very busy Effurun Market; hence, it is always congested with lots of commercial activities, street trading and on-street parking.
Planet Projects, then, deployed the Junction Improvement Works (JIWs) concept, which had basically transformed the roundabout into an optimised junction, thereby separating the various land-use activities –transport, commercial and pedestrian- and ensuring that all these activities could take place without any hindrances.
In providing engineering and construction services, the firm conducted traffic studies, capacity studies, topographic survey, geotechnical surveys, conceptual and detailed designs and construction of the junction.
This transformation has greatly improved traffic flow around the junction, with pedestrian activities completely separated from vehicular traffic, while there is increasing safety and security for all road users.
Akure Urban Renewal Project
The Oja-Oba area in Akure, Ondo State Capital, was previously characterised by chaotic traffic congestion, as a result of road-side street trading which usually spilled into the road with attendant traffic impediment. This street trading created much pedestrian–vehicular conflict worsening the congestion.
Planet Projects was commissioned to develop a solution to address the traffic problem and upgrade the environment. PPL conducted extensive traffic studies, developed and implemented a comprehensive solution that addressed the traffic and pedestrian problems of the area.
The solution includes the introduction of Bus/Taxi Lane, Pedestrian Guardrail, and comprehensive Traffic System Management (TSM) Measures, including Traffic Signal and upgrade of the Pedestrian Bridge.
The measure eliminated congestion while allowing economic activities to go on smoothly and unimpeded. The project also heralded improved road safety by eliminating the conflict between pedestrians crossing the busy carriageway and motorists, thereby transforming the Oja-Oba Area completely.
Lekki Junction Improvement Works
Lekki-Epe Expressway in Lagos has been characterised with severe traffic and gridlocks, with the situation leading to reduced productivity, socio-economic losses.
The expressway is the principal arterial road connecting the Lekki-Epe axis to the rest of Lagos (such as Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Proposed Lekki Deep Seaport, Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Factory Complex, Proposed Lekki Airport to mention but a few.
These land-use activities around this ever-busy road which stretches across nine major roundabouts of 17.3km have been the major cause of the perennial traffic being experienced along the corridor.
Prior to construction, Planet Projects Limited had conducted traffic surveys and studies in order to arrive at the optimum junction models for each of the roundabouts. The firm conceptualised the remodelling of the junctions by carrying out comprehensive Junction Improvement Works (JIWs) through the removal of roundabouts to pave way for the new re-construction, extensive drainage works, walkways, guard-rails, concrete kerbs, asphalt overlay, concrete barriers, etc.
The junctions have been fully furnished with signalised traffic system management measure and signals.
After the intervention by the company, the journey time for the AM peak (Abraham Adesanya – Toll Gate) has drastically reduced from 78 minutes to about 35 minutes, a 55% decrease travel time, while the return journey (Toll Gate- Abraham Adesanya) also changes from 98 minutes to 38 minutes, translating into a 60% decrease in journey time.
After completion of work, the traffic situation in the axis has drastically improved with economists estimating that N87billion had been saved through the Junction Improvement Works (JIWs) intervention.
Ikeja Bus Terminal
Public Transport Operations within Ikeja axis of Lagos are known to be highly fragmented, informal and unregulated. These frustrating activities lead to the unending traffic congestion experienced by road users on a daily basis.
These transport issues reduce productivity, increase pollution, and affect economic growth, to mention a few.
Planet Projects conceived the idea of consolidating all public transport activities into a central location to reduce the effect of traffic congestion associated with illegal parks around Ikeja as part of the Lagos Bus Reform Initiative.
This was achieved through the development of Ikeja Bus Terminal, commissioned by President Buhari on March 29, 2018.
PPL also conceptualised, designed and constructed the terminal within four months. The bus terminal has transformed the landscape of Ikeja, while serving the transport needs of thousands of commuters daily. It has continued to generate more commendations from both local and foreign observers.
When fully operational, the terminal will cater for four million people across the state daily.
Lokoja Mega Terminal
Bus parks in Lokoja, Kogi State Capital, had no facilities for passenger comfort or convenience (waiting areas, loading bays, rest rooms before the construction of Lokoja Mega Terminal. This posed safety and security risks to the commuting public. The parks were an eyesore with their activities spilling onto adjoining roads and causing traffic congestion around Lokoja.
To provide world-class transport facilities for the good people of Kogi State and ensure that transport activities could be conducted in a safe and secure environment, Planet Projects Limited was engaged under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract to construct the Lokoja Mega Terminal.
The company provided Engineering and Construction services, including Feasibility Studies, Transport and Traffic Studies, Transportation Master Plan, Topographic Surveys, Geotechnical Surveys, Conceptual & Detailed Designs and Construction of the Terminals in nine months to deliver the 500 bus-capacity Lokoja Mega Terminal.
Facilities at the terminal include Terminal Building, Food Court, ATM Gallery, Loading Bays, Security Posts, Gate Houses, Drivers’ Lounge, Rest-rooms, Mechanical Workshop, Generator/Power House, and a lot more.
The terminal provides world-class transportation services to the residents and visitors to Lokoja, who would be able to conduct their transportation activities in a safe and secure environment with purpose-built infrastructure. The Terminal was completed in 2015.
In recognition of its efforts in advancing the frontiers of public transport in Africa, the company has received several awards. One of such awards includes the Africa Integrated Mobility Award at the 60th Congress of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), held in Geneva, Switzerland.
UITP is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry and global advocate of sustainable mobility and promoter of innovations in the sector.
Speaking on the milestones so far attained by the company, its Managing Director, Abiodun Otunola, said PPL’s ability to develop functional transport solutions was inspired by the need to create lasting solutions to public transport challenges in Nigeria and Africa.
“Our ability to critically analyse these transport problems and offer holistic, innovative, tailor-made and integrated Public Transport solutions distinguishes us in the emerging public transport sector in Africa.
“These challenges include congestion problems arising from lack of efficient public transport system, poor traffic enforcement regime, fragmented, unreliable and poor-quality bus service, unpredictable fare regime, indiscriminate parking, lack of pedestrian walkways and haphazard project execution”, Otunola said.
He also revealed that Nigerians spend between 30 and 70 per cent of their income on transport with negative consequences on disposable income, purchasing power and aggregate demand in the economy.
While pledging PPL’s readiness to work with governments at all levels to deliver comfortable, efficient and affordable transport systems to the citizenry, Otunola admonished them to pay more attention to public transport in view of its strategic importance to the economic wellbeing of the people.