Lagos has a serious and historical problem with traffic congestion and gridlocks that often run for hours and has been known to cost commuters valuable time and resources in trying to wait them out. And while we cannot say that this has changed very much in recent times, we can totally agree on the extremely slow progress that has happened and is being made, considering how pressing the issue to both the economy of the state and the health of its residents.
The latest statements made by Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the inauguration of ultra-modern office space for officers of the Lagos State Vehicle Inspection department, in regards to the state of Lagos roads and major influences of gridlocks, makes it hard to believe that the governor is completely in touch with the basis of this social problem or isn’t trying perhaps to avoid a hard, tired topic: which is the ever deplorable state of Nigerian roads, especially in a city as cosmopolitan and overpopulated as Lagos.
A roundup of his statement finds the governor heaping the major blame of gridlocks on bad vehicles that are allowed to ply Lagos roads where they eventually breakdown and choke up already congested roads. First of all, it would be great to point out that these vehicles are bad because they have to endure plying a badly planned and equally badly managed road network and with the high number of road commuters using the roads, which remains for many the only and major means of transportation, the road, which is the main problem, bears the brunt.
With over 21 million people from across the country making their home in this steadily contracting city and more looking to do so in the coming years, Lagos’ problem with gridlocks will only lead to more road hazards, including the deterioration of regularly used vehicles.
Some short term solutions to solving Lagos’ gridlock problem would be to fix the roads without necessarily having to expand or wreck existing buildings, ensuring that vehicles parked unaccounted for on frequently used roads be removed and stressing the need to follow road laws would also be immensely helpful. These solutions are short term as roads can always suffer from overuse and traffic laws routinely broken, what would, however, restore some sort of balance is the investing and diversification of the means of moving around in Lagos.
Trains and boats are some of the largely overlooked, barely explored and often badly managed options available and that has to change for any foreseeable change to occur. Lagosians having various other means of getting to work, moving their goods and facilitating mobility, in general, would reduce the pressure on the usage of roads and have fewer people needing to use their cars.
This would not only have fewer cars getting affected by the bad roads but would improve the economic sector in the state. To blame bad vehicles is not only inaccurate but toes the line of our policymakers and representatives trying to fix symptoms of bigger problems and not the problem, laying around unattended to.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.