Lagos State is home to over 21 million residents. Of that massive population, about 95% of the residents commute by road within the state.
With the exploding population and the corresponding increase in vehicles, the roads have become enormously inadequate.
With over 5 million cars and 200,000 commercial vehicles on roads in Lagos (when the national average is 11 vehicles per kilometre), the state, daily, records an average of 227 vehicles per every kilometre of road.
Recent research showed that an average Lagosian spend an average of 3 months in a year in traffic. Indeed, this does impact negatively on the productivity in the state, and it surely has adverse health implications on residents.
Over the years, successive governments in the state have proposed numerous solutions to the horrendous road traffic challenge. There have also been suggestions for a multi-modal means of transportation to expand mass transit from traditional road transport. For instance, Waterways transport, cable cars, BRT, metro line, etc means of mass transit have been proposed. However, the successive government in the state seem to only pay lip service to the execution of these proposals.
Perhaps, it is for this reason that some school of thought often suspect that the horrific traffic situation in Lagos is being sustained because some powerful forces -with the connivance of the Government – benefitting massively from it.
Or is it right to believe that successive governments have done little to ameliorate the notorious traffic gridlocks of Lagos state?
Here are 10 ways that the Lagos state government is failing in solving the traffic challenges of the state.
Presence Of “Agberos” On The Roads
Agents of the road transport unions, popularly referred to as “Agberos”, constitute one of the greatest nuisances on roads in Lagos. Their levy-collecting activities on roads in the State often lead to traffic build-ups.
Their mandate requires them to collect levies of diverse nature from commercial motorists in transit. In order to do this, their strategy is to slow vehicular traffic movement in order to succeed in collecting these levies and dues from mobile commercial motorists.
On August 3, 2012, the Fashola administration enacted the Lagos road traffic laws. This law was unambiguous in the outright ban of the activities of the Agberos (NURTW, RTREAN, etc.) both at motor parks and at bus stops. By that law, the mere sight of an agbero on the street or bus stop is a crime against Lagos state.
Curiously, the enforcement of that law by the chest-beating Fashola administration only lasted for 3 days. The law still exists, yet Fashola and his successors have demonstrated an absolute lack of will-power to enforce that law.
The internally generated revenue (IGR) of Lagos state, mainly through taxes, is about $1.4 billion annually. This is about 40% of the total IGR collected by Nigeria’s 36 states. It is also far more than what some African nations generate for themselves. This enormous resource does not include the over N120billion it gets annually from the federal government.
With these staggering resources, potholes on roads ought not to feature as one of the problems that beset the state. The ubiquitous presence of potholes on the roads in Lagos state contributes significantly to the horrific traffic congestions and gridlocks.
Sadly, Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), the state agency saddled with the responsibility of restoring failed portions of roads in Lagos state, has over time demonstrated a tremendous ineptitude to engage in that task.
Non-Functional Or Absence of Traffic Light
The absence of traffic light at some key intersections on roads in Lagos contributes to the ever-present chaos on Lagos roads.
An increasing number of lack of and non-functional traffic lights frustrates traffic management in Lagos. This situation is responsible for gridlocks and even car crashes at strategic junctions across Lagos. During rush hours, traffic wardens and LASTMA find it difficult to control vehicles. This is often because motorists drive at their discretion.
Neglect of Other Modes of Transport
Over the years, it has become evident that the roads in Lagos have grown inadequate for transporting the huge population in the state. Successive governments in the state have proposed an integrated approach to public transportation in a multi-modal means of transportation, that entails the simultaneous use of the road, rail and water, etc. However, the Lagos State governments have demonstrated a fixation for road transport.
Construction of Narrow Roads With Wide Medians and roundabouts
With the massive increase in the human population in Lagos state, there has not been a commensurate increase in roads or the expansion of existing roads. Instead, some existing major roads have been segmented or partitioned for use by the BRT service.
Many of the roads in Lagos are too narrow to conveniently handle vehicular traffic on them. The few that have been reconstructed have very wide medians or roundabouts integrated into them, which further narrows the roads. All these seem to give the impression that the government is more interested in aesthetics rather than functionality.
Poor Enforcement of Road Traffic Laws
Lagos state is not short of legislation to combat lawlessness on the roads. However, enforcement of these laws has remained the challenge of the state.
The several government agencies saddled with the responsibility of traffic law enforcement are either poorly-motivated, too lenient or are easily compromised in order to look the other way.
Condoning The Recklessness Of Danfo
One of the greatest menaces on roads in Lagos is the notorious danfo buses. The recklessness of Danfos operators is the stuff of legend. Strangely, they always seem to get away with their shenanigans – such as parking indiscriminately at a non-designated bus stops on the roads. This often cause traffic build-up. These traffic gridlock causing recklessness by Danfo drivers have been condoned for far too long in the state by the enforcement agencies.
Under-utilization of The BRT Lane
On 17 March 2008, the administration of Babatunde Fashola kicked off the Lagos BRT project. The BRT is a system where buses use dedicated lanes on the road.
Originally, the Lagos BRT project was a partnership between the government and the transport unions. The Akinwunmi Ambode government, in favour of a monopoly by a private operator, discontinued this partnership under the LAGBUS arrangement. The discontinuance of the Lago state–Lagbus partnership led to the kicking out of over 40 LAGBUS BRT franchisees, together with their hundreds of buses from using the BRT lanes. This has led to the non-BRT lanes becoming more congested due to the presence of the former BRT operators.
Delay in the Construction of Lagos Light Rail
The Lagos Light Rail Project is currently being developed to decentralized mass transit from traditional road transport.
However, there appears to be a good level of insincerity, inconsistencies, intrigues and controversies that have characterized the project. All these have all contributed to the delay in its completion.
The original idea for a Metroline in Lagos was mooted by the administration of Alhaji Lateef Jakande in 1983. But the project was scrapped in 1985 during the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari regime.
The idea was later revived during the administration of Governor Bola Tinubu in the early 2000s, with a formal announcement of its construction in December 2003.
The first section of the network, Phase I of the Blue Line, was originally planned to be completed in 2011. After many delays caused by “funding shortfalls”, the opening date was revised to 2022.
Poor infrastructure And Regulation For Waterway Transport
Many find it befuddling that Lagos state, a state that is primarily occupied by water, over-concentrates mass transit on roads. This contributes significantly to the overcrowded roads in Lagos state.
This is so even when considered that the waterways mode of transport is easier and more affordable to provide than road transport infrastructure.
Weak Enforcement of Not Using The Pedestrian Bridge
For whatever reasons – Lagosians are always in a hurry. Thus, they always have a way of circumventing established processes without any consideration for their consequences. For instance, many are of guilty of non-compliance with traffic laws regarding pedestrian bridges. Pedestrian crossing the roads -especially at expressways that provide – often cause traffic buildup. Enforcement of compliance with the use of pedestrian bridges by the state government has been typically weak.
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