Enugu?s Coal City Shuttle to take off with Innoson buses
By Moses Akaigwe
Friday, February 11, 2011
Coal City Shuttle buses ready for take off
The loudly popular cab scheme introduced by the Enugu State Government a couple of years ago with cars such as; Suzuki Alto and Nissan Sunny, is set to have a sequel in a highly innovative made-in-Nigeria buses.
Christened Coal City Shuttle, the project will officially take off with an initial batch of no fewer than 30 purpose-built long buses from Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) plant in Nnewi, Anambra State, as part of the plan to give Enugu a befitting mass transit system. Innoson has also produced for the state waste management authority, a fleet of refuse compactor trucks.
Dropping these hints in a chat with Daily Sun Motoring, the Special Adviser to the Enugu State Govenor on Transportation, Prince Emeka Mamah, said Coal City Shuttle would not be just another transport scheme, but was designed to be innovative, efficiently managed and benefit from relevant modern technologies.
Prince Mamah added: ?Coal City Shuttle is a project embarked on by the Enugu State Government in accordance with a key item in Governor Sullivan Chime?s four-point agenda, which is to give commuters in the state and the Coal City in particular, the best transportation system. So, you can say it is part of the dividends of democracy for the people of Enugu State?.
The Special Adviser disclosed that the shuttle would have been flagged off earlier, but for the insistence of those midwifing the project, on ensuring that relevant on-board and ground infrastructure, as well as supports services, are fully in place before the vehicles hit Enugu roads. For instance, close circuit television (CCTV) is being installed on each of the buses with the aim of monitoring daily operations of the vehicles and obviating gate-crashing and other criminal activities on the part of the passengers, as well as possible indiscipline and cheating by the crews.
It was also learnt that turnstiles, automated mechanical devices that control entrance into halls, stadia, and other enclosed places, are being installed on the Innoson buses. The barrier will play the dual role of controlling the entry/exit of the ticket-bearing passengers, while at the same time counting them as they board. What Enugu residents and their visitors that will be patronizing the Coal City Shuttle will find very innovative is the cashless ticketing system. In conjunction with UBA, the government has engaged agents who, as is the case with telephone recharge cards, make the tickets available to resellers from whom the intending passengers are expected to purchase them before boarding the buses.
Unlike the yellow Coal City Cabs which is being run on PPP (public, private, partnership) basis, the Coal City Shuttle is an entirely government scheme with the Enugu State Ministry of Transportation handling the procurement of the buses and employment of the on-board crews and supervisors. Fully air-conditioned and already painted dark red, the Innoson-built buses are expected to ply designated routes across the city, connecting major streets and the outskirts. Destinations will include Garki, Emene, Abakpa, New Market and Otukozala, among others.
Commenting on the choice of locally made buses, Mamh, a prince of the Igwe James Mamah dynasty reputed for the remarkable success of Ifesinachi Industries Limited in luxury bus transportation, said the Sullivan Chime-led state government considered the obvious advantages the Innoson buses have over imported brands, provide reliable after-sales back-up. According to him, ensuring that the vehicles have hitch-free operations through a solid maintenance arrangement is key to the success of the new project.
Contacted on the issue, the Chairman of Innoson Group of Companies Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, OON, stated that the buses are very strong, reliable and durable. He added that they would not have problems on Enugu roads, ?because we are on ground with a very solid arrangement for after-sales service and replacement parts?.
IVM, Chief Chukwuma, disclosed, had already established a service centre in Enugu with a plan for regular availability of parts. He said.: ?You will see that the Innoson buses will do well. The performance of the buses will prove what we have been saying about the vehicles. They are good. Moreover, the type of workshop we have built in Enugu for Coal City Shuttle will be built for any other state or company anywhere in Nigeria that places a large order with Innoson for the buses or the refuse compactor trucks.
Also reacting to the patronage of Innoson buses by Enugu State Government, NAMA, the association vehicle manufactures in Nigeria thumbed for Governor Chime, and urged other governors and decision makers at the federal level to take a cue from him.
The Executive Director, Mr. Arthur Madueke, argued that sourcing vehicles locally impacts positively on employment, industrial growth and economic development generally. ?Therefore, I wish to urge other governors, particularly Governor Obi of Anambra State where Innoson auto plant is located, to emulate the Enugu state example. Obi seems to be a progressive governor, but I do not know why after the commissioning of the plant last year by President Goodluck Jonathan, he has not embarked on any project that will take vehicles from the Nnewi plant?, Madueke remarked.
As the Coal City Shuttle and the choice of Innoson buses continue to draw commendations for Governor Chime, the Special Adviser on Transportation is predicting that the scheme would be a huge success in view of the careful planning, innovations, quality of the buses and efficient management. He is hopeful that his experience in running Ifesinachi Industries Nig Limited will be a contributory factor to the envisaged success of the bus transport scheme.
?We are hopeful that by the end of the year, the state government and Enugu state people will see the huge benefits of the investments in the Coal City Shuttle?, Mamah stated.