COMPUTING

FCT Improves Transport With E-Ticketing in Nigeria

The present practice of using cash to board buses in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) may soon be a thing of the past with the new smart card innovation of ETopNG. Just like every other smart card, cash is being loaded onto the card and used for payment in the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Buses which were introduced in 2006 after the ban on motorcycles known as 'okada'. But there is little sign that the ban on ‘okada’ has had the slightest effect.

The new scheme has been test ran on two routes in the city; Kado and Masaka routes, and commuters who ply the route have gotten used the system in the last eight months of tests. It has been tested on the 45 buses that ply these routes. This is the system in bus transportation of developed countries like the United Kingdom, China and a host of others, and it is expected to conform to Nigeria's vision of being one of the world's biggest economies by the year 2020.

ThisDay checks discovered that getting a smart card is very easy. A commuter can obtain one at a bus garage or depot with the sum of N250 which has already been pre-loaded on the card. The commuter obtains a personalised pin to protect the card from unauthorised use. On boarding the bus, a computer reader validates the card with a sensor and automatically deducts the bus fare with a display of the balance.

The advantages of such system include saving time as there is no need for a commuter to queue to obtain a ticket or look for change for travel on the bus (usually a cause of friction between conductors and commuters).

It also can load enough money for fares for a week or a month in advance. Parents can also preload money onto their children's cards thereby reducing the risk of them carrying cash and losing it.

ThisDay spoke with the Managing Director of ETopNg, Kayode Ehindero who disclosed that his company decided to introduce the scheme which is the standard in various countries around the globe.

He added that it cost the company about N600, 000 to kit each bus with the hardware and software of the scheme, which has already been embraced by the FCT Transport Secretariat under the leadership of Segun Awolowo and soon to be introduced in over 280 buses plying the city and environs. Some states have also shown interest in the scheme.

Ehindero explained that the company faced the challenge of acceptance by commuters who were sceptical about the innovation. "People were initially scared of loading their money into the card because they didn't know if it would work. But now people are loading as much as N5000, so that they can keep using it".

"This card can be personalised; you can put your picture and name and in case it is lost, you can easily call us and we block your card. This can also make people plan to know how much to spend basically for transport", he said.

This Day

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