To inaugurate the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP) community of practice on urban mobility and accessibility, SSATP is opening its space to Dr. Dayo Mobereola, Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Nigeria. In his paper on “Building effective BRT solutions for Africa: What matters,” Dr. Mobereola suggests the need for an African approach to BRT systems, which are able to meet basic standards of cost-effectiveness, efficiency, safety and environmental friendliness while at the same time being set in the local context and appropriate to the city’s institutional and socio-political framework.
These could be seen as typical criteria defined by an economist to ensure affordability and best fit for the countries and for the users. However, Dr. Mobereola’s message is deeper from a development point of view. Dr. Mobereola advocates a cultural change among transport planners and designers: Design projects that are cost effective and best serve the users even if they don‘t use the highest international standards. This is quite refreshing. Dr. Mobereola’s point of view can apply obviously beyond the design of BRT. Aiming at the highest standards in infrastructure projects even when not justified is sometimes called the syndrome of engineers. To be fair to the engineers, the influence of politicians in choosing the highest standards cannot be ignored. This is a universal problem but the countries in Africa cannot afford to waste resources. Consideration of standards should also be part of a global approach. For example, while some high standards for infrastructure are discussed in Africa, most African countries do not have national targets for rural access. High standards may be affordable and justified in some countries but affordability is also about equity and contextualization of the proposed approach is critical.
Read and comment on Dr. Mobereola’s paper at www.ssatp.org/community_of_practice (users need to create an account).
Image via Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.
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