TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK IN LAGOS: THE WAY FORWARD
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
Kenneth is a banker; he is in the employment of one of the first-generation commercial banks with branches spread across the length and breadth of the country. The father of three owns a lovely and comfortable Toyota Highlander (2012 Model) but he dares not take his car to work because of the horrible traffic and the terrible roads he must contend with daily.
He stressed: “I cannot afford to drive to work anymore, the traffic is terrible and traumatic, I have to leave home very early in the morning and I would still get home very late in the evening, I live in Gowon Estate, very close to the Ipaja-Ayobo road. My bank’s branch is along the Allen Avenue axis of Ikeja”. “The roads are hellish, and I have decided to stop taking my car to work because the exhausting routine is gradually taking its toll on my personal health and the general well-being of my car.” He concluded.
Kenneth is not alone in his plight; some Lagosian have more horrible tales to tell about what the negative impact of the incessant traffic snarls in the metropolis have caused them. An economist, Mr. Kelvin Olalere said the traffic is seriously affecting business as many people are not able to meet up with appointments, losing money in the process. He said: “There was a day I had an appointment in Victoria Island on a contract that was supposed to fetch me millions of naira, but I missed the chance because of the heavy traffic. Being someone who has been living in Lagos for the past 27 years and knowing the traffic, I left my base at Alagbado two hours to the appointment, but I could not get there until three hours after the scheduled time”.
Traffic in our dear state is chaotic to say the least. According to reliable statistics, 40% of all the vehicles in Nigeria are on Lagos roads. The city’s population is put at over 18 million people and an average family has a car. Economic experts say the business community in Lagos loses not less than NGN11 billion monthly to the daily traffic gridlock in the city. Commuters and motorists describe the consistent traffic jam on Lagos roads as a setback for business growth.
Speaking with Daily Trust, another economist, Mr. Wole Sowunmi, said the daily gridlock makes businessmen lose not less than NGN500 million daily. This translates to about NGN11 billion monthly. According to him, research has shown that the more time people spend in traffic jams, the more money is lost in business transactions that they would have made while they were in the traffic. Usually, the heavy traffic situation in Lagos is felt in all parts of the city virtually throughout the day. From Shangisha, before the old toll gate down to Ojota through Ikorodu road to Western Avenue (Funso Williams Avenue) stretching to Lagos Island, the traffic is always heavy, especially in the morning when people are going to work and in the evening when returning home.
The same situation is experienced by commuters and motorists on the Ikorodu to Lagos Island route, and the Gbagada-Oshodi to Apapa route, as well as the Mile 2 to Badagry route. No area of Lagos is spared in the nerve-wrecking traffic.
The terrible experience Lagosian must contend with daily is a sad reminder that the terrifying state of traffic management in nation’s commercial nerve center is not getting the desired attention it rightfully deserves. Now, the million-dollar questions are; how has the state government fared in the provision of motor-able roads and enabling infrastructural facilities that would aid the seamless movement of vehicular activities in the historic state? What can we contribute to the war against the gridlock in most parts of the state as Lagos residents because we are at the receiving end of this terrible traffic?
If the truth is to be told, the government should be applauded for the visible efforts of his administration to ensure that there is free flow of traffic through the nooks and crannies of the cosmopolitan state. However, more still needs to be done, the government must ensure that traffic gridlock within the metropolis is reduced to the barest minimum that is if it cannot be completely eradicated. In subsequent paragraphs, I would be offering some solutions that I hope in my humble opinion can better the situation.
Mass re-orientation of road users- The federal and state government with the co-operation of other stakeholders need to intensify efforts in this regard, the importance of mass orientation of commuters, drivers and pedestrians cannot be over-emphasized. I am suggesting that symposiums and workshops should be held at determined intervals where the importance of good driving manners would be itemized and discussed extensively to all the road users. The constant traffic gridlock in major parts of the state can largely be attributed to the lawlessness of some errant road users with the collaboration of some corrupt traffic officials that are supposed to condone off traffic in such situations. Government at all levels should make sure that rancorous driving habits are eschewed by road users with the provision of periodic training and workshops in interactive forms where a segmented part of the populace who be taught how not to behave when behind the wheels.
Provision of adequate traffic facilities- The provision of traffic facilities in form of road signs, traffic lights, street lights among others is tantamount to the free flow of traffic in the state. The present administration should be applauded in this regard anyways, but the need to ensure that no stone is left upturned is paramount because there is always enough room for improvement and the bar can still be raised to unimaginable heights.
Provision of Alternative Routes- This is one of the most important ways to ensure the total elimination of traffic congestion on major roads, the provision of alternative routes to road users is imperative, the funny fact is that sometimes, all it takes to ease off traffic on some major roads is to ensure that those adjoining roads are made motor-able. The Ejigbo axis of the Ikotun-Isolo road is a perfect example, the Ijegun-Jakande link bridge came handy at the most crucial time and the traffic situation in those places has significantly improved.
Provision of other means of transportation- This is another way the government can ensure the total elimination of the symbolic traffic lock-down that the wonderful state is synonymous with. The Lagos light rail project and the ferry services in some part of the state have the potentials to riddoff traffic on the roads if fully implemented. I would like to appeal to the state government to ensure that those projects are completed and implemented in no time and to ensure that it is made accessible and affordable to the average Lagosian without having to pay through our noses.
Lastly, the government’s effort to ensure that the incessant traffic gridlock is defeated will never be realized if we do not ensure that we play our part to ensure that the war against horrible traffic is won. By and large, we should all ensure that the lawlessness and carelessness witnessed on our roads are fought with all our might.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State
Olusanya, Oluwole Sheriff