Lagos, the apparent centre of excellence, has now become the centre of overwhelmingly ridiculous traffic. I’m not talking about the ones where it’s a “we go little by little” situation, if it were the case I wouldn’t even be complaining. No, it’s the type of traffic where you spend
45 minutes in a spot, wondering if the road has broken, scared that you may get home at midnight, frustrated, hungry, angry, irritated, having all these emotions all at once. Then you get to the end of it and what do you find? Most of the time it’s nothing.
Ask the average Lagosian and they would tell you that if you have any time-sensitive event to appear for, it is only wise that you leave your house at most an hour earlier than the estimated time that Google maps calculates for you. Even when you do so, it is a possibility that you could still arrive late at your destination. I’m currently wondering if a Cinderella-like story can be successfully pulled off in Lagos, with her pulling that stunt of leaving the dance and riding the magical carriage home 10minutes to midnight. If it were set in Lagos she would still be traffic by the time her stepmother arrived home. Worse, both her and her stepmother would be stuck in traffic.
I do not know if anyone exists in Lagos who has not experienced traffic-or “hold up” as it is popularly known as- like this before. Sadly, it does not seem to be getting any better. Of course this can be attributed to the fast-growing population of people living in Nigeria’s former capital, but I do not think that the population alone takes the blame. Lagos is not the only populous city in the world. Other countries have places that are population dense as well, and they around fine. They don’t have two heads. I believe however that the population is rising faster than what the governing system is equipped to handle, and there is no particularly aggressive action to match up the resources to the growing population.
Let me explain better. The average middle to upper-middle class family owns about two to three cars. So every day, you can safely say that at least two cars from each family are plying the roads. Multiply that by the estimated population of people in this social class in Lagos. You may be starting to get the picture now, if you haven’t already. Truth is, there really are too many vehicles on the road, which in addition to congesting the road lanes, increase the rate of ‘pothole’ formation, so traffic is an almost inevitable occurrence.
In a country there is bound to be someplace somewhere that people regard as the prime location many activities; export, foreign exchange, fashion, commerce, you name it. Lagos is many of these things and more. It’s no surprise then that this state is growing in population as it is. I’m not saying that other busy cities like New York, London and Hong Kong are devoid of traffic, but they’re not treated to multiple daily standstill occurrences like what we have. How they mastered it, you may ask? Well I think that that those cities have various efficient transportation networks. The train and bus networks serve a good number of their population, so less people actually take their cars out everyday.
At this point you might want to stop me and say, “but Lagos has trains”, and with that I’m saying, “but have you ever rode in one?” To make people who are used to taking their cars out every day and everywhere start taking the bus (or any other transport means really), the bus has to compete or at least not be too far behind in its ability to get them as near to their location as possible, doing it early, neatly and comfortably, without them having to drain their accounts as well. We travel to all these countries and have a sense of comfort and security in their transport systems which is lacking in ours.
If this state is really serious about curbing this traffic menace to a large extent, I believe a good place to start would be upgrading mass transportation networks to accommodate members of the society from various socioeconomic classes. Any government that is determined to achieve this, and/or actually does, would have accomplished a great feat and equipped Lagos with the transport network deserving of what a centre of excellence should look have.
Thank you for reading.