Lagos transport’s e-payment system boosts smart city credentials but pitfalls remain


On a recent afternoon in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, scores of commuters waited at the bus station for the arrival of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses to convey them to their destinations. A PREMIUM TIMES reporter joined in the wait, the aim being to ascertain the ease of commute for Lagosians.

About an hour and a half later, one of the buses arrived.

And a scramble ensued. Passengers who were, hitherto, not on the queue battled those in the line for a space in the bus.

It took the arrival of a BRT official to restore orderliness.

Then, with the use of their cowry cards, the passengers began to board. The card is a reloadable prepaid card that once tapped against a machine in the bus, scans the bar code and deducts the appropriate fare for the trip.

When it got to the turn of a middle-aged man, his card was rejected due to insufficient funds.

The cowry card validator in a BRT bus showing a successful payment.
The cowry card validator in a BRT bus showing a successful payment.

Another chaos ensued.

“What are you telling me? I loaded N1,000 two days ago and only went to Maryland to and fro,” the man barked at an official.

“I should have about N400 left, now you are telling me I cannot get on the bus because I have no…



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