BusinessDay

Worsening traffic situation in Lagos

Unarguably, Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, is a land of opportunities. It is a sprawling city also described as land of acquatic splendour.

The managers and promoters of this city state, at any given opportunity, describe it in superlative terms with entralling epithets.

To them, Lagos is a Centre of Excellence; a smart mega city in the league of Paris, London, New York, etc. it is a 21st Century economy in the making.

Lagos is also said to be the largest economy in West Africa and one of the largest in the world whose GDP is bigger than those of six West African countries put together.

These, apparently, are the realities that define Lagos and they constitute the nectar that draws people like bees and butterflies to the flowers called opportunities in the city.

Unfortunately, however, many have come and realized, too early and most poignantly, that Lagos is like grass which is greener from afar.

It is said that in Lagos, traffic congestion and flooding are no respecter of locations, meaning that both the city centres and the hinterlands are caught in the web

With all the charm and allure which its name brandishes to the outside world, Lagos has an environment which, to many, is one of the most difficult in the world. And we share that view.

Though that is to be expected in a state that is adjudged the most populous in Nigeria but the smallest in size, sitting on 3,577 square kilometres, some aspects of its environmental issues can be checked.

One of such issues is traffic congestion which, on incremental and daily basis, is worsening, inflicting pain and instilling frustration in its residents and businesses.

It is said that in Lagos, traffic congestion and flooding are no respecter of locations, meaning that both the city centres and the hinterlands are caught in the web.

In the last few months, it has been a daily dose of stress and suffering for businesses and commuters and this has been made worse by the rains and the attendant flooding.

The situation is such that, except highbrow areas like Old Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Banana Island, every turn in the sprawling city leads to a traffic event that saps energy from commuters. Businesses too suffer from the slow motion the city has now become.

Disturbed by the impact of the traffic congestion on businesses and residents, the United States Consulate in Nigeria, a couple of years ago, hosted a conference with the theme, ‘The Never-Ending Story of Lagos Traffic Congestion: What Can be Done? Will it be Done?’

We recall that experts at that virtual conference advised that Lagos should improve its traffic situation by investing in a three-leg transport system such as rail, mass buses transit and ferries.

The experts reasoned that such investment would not only improve traffic situation, but also drive job creation and business growth.

They noted that not only was the state’s increasing gridlock killing productivity and limiting the growth of businesses, but also causing severe physical and mental stress for an average Lagosian who stays in traffic for about 10 hours a day in order to carry out his daily activities.

The experts noted further that Lagos was fast becoming a world economy that was growing rapidly, but to support that growth, it needed more investment.

“But investors would be much more interested in coming if they see there is an ease for people to get to work,” the experts said. We agree totally with this.

Though the government says it is doing a lot to improve the traffic situation in the state, we are of the view that their best so far is not good enough for the size and economic status of the state in Nigeria and also in Africa.

Lagos can best be described as a mega city in static motion and that belies the state government’s claim that it is working to make the state a 21st Century economy.

There is no doubt that Lagos is a mega by sheer population. But a mega city should be fluid; it should move such that commuters can plan their movement while businesses can survive and also thrive.

Lagos environment does not support efficient and stress-free living and ease of doing business because the roads are not enough while those that are available are in terrible condition, seriously affecting physical and mental health of residents.

Read also: Some traffic offenses in Lagos and their penalties

The impact of traffic congestion on the economy of the state is quite significant as reflected in a publication by Danne Institute for Research, which notes that Lagos roads are unable to cater for the volume of traffic in the state.

“Infrastructure is still inadequate and options such as water and rail transport are underutilized.

“With 2.2km of road for every 1,000 inhabitants and total passenger traffic of 20 million daily, the provision of roads in Lagos is one of the lowest in West Africa,” the publication stated.

The publication also reveals that Lagos loses about N4 trillion annually as a result of traffic congestion.

“The cost of traffic congestion to individuals is N133,978.7 per annum for those who own their vehicles and N79,039.4 each year for those who use public transport,” the publication added.

It is on the strength of the above that we urge the state government’to increase its investment in transportation infrastructure.

We commend the state government on its present efforts on the Blue and Red Line rail projects as well as the reconstruction and expansion of some expressways, especially the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

But these projects should not take eternity to complete. 13 years after, work is still ongoing on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway with motorists and businesses in that axis spending all their working days in traffic.

We are saddened by the present traffic situation in the state and therefore urge the state government to do more to free residents and motorists from the daily suffering on the roads.

Doing that, in our opinion, means helping businesses and the economy of the state to grow. And the time to do so is NOW.

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