Lagos is a crazy city. Metropolitan cities are often plagued with many problems (which are to be expected), but the traffic problem in Lagos, Nigeria is a basket case.
Log on to Gidi Traffic on Twitter, or listen to Traffic Radio and you would be scared of moving about in Lagos (whether you drive yourself, or you are driven), based on the characteristic locked down states of most routes in the various parts of the metropolis, specifically in the evenings (rush hour), and often in the mornings, and even weekends!
We all hear of how terrible the Lagos traffic is, but you really need to go through this mad traffic, daily, as thousands do, from the mainland to the Island, and back, to appreciate the enormity of the problem, and the need for government to find an urgent solution.
The enormity of the traffic situation in Lagos reminds me of a mechanic that said, years ago..
I am permanently at work from the time I leave home to the time I get back home. I have a mechanic workshop in Ogudu GRA and live in Sango Otta (a suburb in Lagos). I spend like four hours to get home from work in the evenings, and another three to reach my workshop from home, in the morning. When I get home, my wife has to beg me to be able to take my bath and eat. The reason is because I am always dead on my feet by that time, and just want to drop, and sleep.
The funny thing is, by the time you know it, it’s morning again!
Here is a conversation between two friends, one already acclimatized to the nightmare that LasGidi traffic is, and the other just beginning to experience the abominable baptism of Lagos traffic fire, and appreciating the enormity of the situation:
+++Are you still living in the Ojodu axis? (Ojodu is a suburb of Lagos)
—Still there oo. Managing am like that.
+++I will probably need to move over toward that side soon, too … God willing. Trying to get acclimatized to wading through the the daily grinding traffic my new engagement requires. Am not finding it funny at all..
—My bro.. Na serious matter oo. Not funny at all at all, and when the kids resume school next week, and work fully by starts (after the Christmas / New Year Break, all hell would break loose on the highways. I shiver.
+++I attended a training for a week at Victoria Island a month ago, or so. I almost died.. Nine hours in STOP and STOP traffic, to and fro, daily.
+++My legs were swelling up. Sitting through training from morning until evening, then sitting in the vehicle for such long periods. God dey. I actually was thinking of doing a pregnancy test to ensure I wasn’t pregnant. You never know, men can get pregnant too o!
—LOL. Hope you were not driving sha
+++No, I have been using the commercial buses. My car has been resting at home.
Now, would you say it’s less stressful to drive daily in hectic traffic, than patronize commercial buses?
—Lailai… You’re better off with commercial bus. But there’s no way you won’t get to work late unless you leave home at 5am or earlier daily. Driving in Lagos is killing, my bro. I know many many people who moved their residence closer to work, not minding the other inconveniences, just like you are thinking of doing..
+++I know. I know. I met a colleague, he lives in Ogba, has an office in Eleganza Building, CMS. He has suddenly aged. Drives to and fro work, daily. Been doing that for years. I felt sorry for him when I saw him recently.
— He wants to kill himself. There are BRT buses everywhere. It’s far more convenient than attempting to do ‘big man’, driving through chaotic traffic daily. I live the car at home, jeje.
+++Well, his personal house is in Ogba the office must be sited on the heart of the Island, because of the nature of the job. His drivers keep quitting, as they couldn’t cope with the rigour.
—You find lawyers, bankers and corporate guys/ladies on the commercial buses.. both morning and evening. Most of them have cars, but can’t stand the traffic unless they want to die young.
+++Hmmm. Unless you are being driven, commuting between the Island and mainland daily is a long route to high blood pressure, truly.
—Riding in cars to/from work in Lagos is not a luxury. It’s pure work. And, hell.
—Unless you have a driver who will be handsomely remunerate, he’ll quit his job within 2 months.
+++I was almost robbed in Ikeja around the yuletide when I was going home at 11.30pm. Had to work very late.
—You see now.
Yes, anytime from 10pm the road is usually free leaving the island, unless there’s a major accident on Ikorodu road, so there’ll be spill over on 3rd mainland bridge.
+++My friend, it sounds like you would be getting home quite late yourself.
—Of course I’m used to it. Although I don’t close late, anytime from 6pm unless there’s serious work. But still I spend minimum of 4hrs on the road
+++People who have to go through that must treasure their weekends mightily. I hope your children are not calling you “Uncle” yet.
—Lailai. I don’t usually go out weekends. I’m always indoors, spending quality time with my family, Saturday and Sunday.
I no kuku dey go party or club.
+++Now, I am truly scared.
—Don’t be bro. You’ll cope. It’s a matter of time.
Clearly, the government is not thinking, or if they are, they are not thinking hard enough in solving the traffic issue. It has even worsened in recent times.
The daily commute of numerous cars going to the Island in the morning, and the same cars returning in the evening, with the attendant time spent, fuel burnt, blood pressures elevated.. cannot be good for the economy.
The BRT buses provided, the rail transport and the waterways provisions do not appear to have enough positive impact in ameliorating the daily traffic bedlam.
It is either there are too many vehicles plying the roads to the Island, or the roads! bridges are not plentiful enough. The Lagos State Government purchased some helicopters. These can be used to conduct a reconnaissance on the trouble spots, and find out exactly the cause of the daily gridlock. Then a workable solution can be planned and implemented.
You could widen the roads, construct more strategically located bridges, persuade more people to leave their cars behind (through road use taxes, enhancing the alternative systems like rails and the waterways system), encouraging more industries to set up on the mainland (and pay less taxes as a result, or make is easier for the working class to live close to where they work though affordable (low income) accommodation on the island.
Any way this is sliced, it is only government that can solve the daily traffic gridlock (which, by the way, is quite ubiquitous, and is not just limited to the Island Commuters alone).
This represents an almost unquantifiably monumental waste of resources (manhours, money, time, etc).