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Traffic congestion in Lagos

The Problem of Traffic Congestion in Lagos State

At the rate we are going Traffic congestion in the city of Lagos may further be exacerbated by an increase in population in years to come if something is not done urgently. This article addresses the issue of Traffic congestion in Lagos state.

Many urban cities in Nigeria are bedevilled with traffic congestion which tends to defy various remedial measures adopted by different governments over the years, and Lagos is no exception.

Journey times from one point to another within a different parts of Lagos have remained unreliable and residents have continued to face disturbing inconveniences in transportation. These are accompanied by noise and air pollution and the high costs associated with burning of fuels from stationary vehicles.

The contributions of road transportation to environmental degradation in urban cities of Nigeria is no longer limited to traditional cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna. Virtually every state capital city in Nigeria today faces the problem of traffic congestion.

It has been argued that there is no single widely accepted definition of traffic congestion. The reason for this is associated with operational and user perspectives.

The Joint Transport Research Centre (2007) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) provide the following definitions of traffic congestion to reflect the different broad perspectives:

  • Congestion is a situation in which demand for road space exceeds supply.
  • Congestion is the impedance vehicles impose on each other, due to the speed flow relationship, in conditions where the use of a transport system approaches capacity.

Congestion is essentially a relative phenomenon that is linked to the difference between the roadway system performance that users expect and how the system actually performs.”

Just as the definitions of traffic congestion are broad so are the causes. There are many causes of traffic congestion and these differ from place to place.

Traffic congestion is sometimes the result of urban development, housing, employment and cultural policies which cause people to live and work relative to one another in close proximity just as is the case in Lagos state.

Invariably traffic congestion is a major transportation problem of Nigerian cities.

At international level, it has been argued that “dynamic, affordable, liveable and attractive urban regions will never be free of congestion”.  If this is true then efforts will be geared towards cost effective management of the problem. The first step towards such effective management is the identification of the problem causes.

It has been argued that traffic congestion is as a result of the increasing growth in motor vehicles without a corresponding improvement in transport facilities such as road network, traffic management techniques.

Also illegal roadside parking and lack of geo-spatial information necessary to tackle the spatial problem are other causes of traffic congestion.

There is a need for the use of a dynamic Traffic Information System (TIS) structure to monitor traffic congestion in Lagos. This will also alert or inform road users about congested routes through linkage with Federal and State Radios.

However this should not be used in isolation but to complement traditional methods of traffic management such as construction of new routes, flyovers, one-way, odd and even numbers, etc which have earlier failed on their own to solve congestion problems in Lagos.

The limitation in the TIS approach lies in the possibility of some road users not tuning to radios, or the radio stations not devoting the entire airtime to traffic information. Many danfo drivers in Lagos don’t even have a stereo in their yellow buses.

That notwithstanding, with the level of technology available today, the use of Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) located at strategic points on the road may provide a suitable alternative to the TIS.

In Lagos, the degree of traffic jam may make you want to consider leaving your car behind to take a walk home. The traffic jam in the city can add up to 4 hours to your commute. Studies found that professionals working in Lagos still spend an average 3 hours and 55 minutes each day in total commuting time to and from their place of work for a 15km journey, the highest figure in Africa.

The journey times are particularly long for those commuting to Lagos from neighbouring Abeokuta, Ibadan, etc. Studies also found that the worst traffic congestion occurred on Mondays.

Traffic congestion in Lagos can mostly be attributed to include the following: Presence of pot holes/bad road, trading activities, on-street parking, loading and discharging of passengers, illegal bus stops, flooding/poor drainage, vehicle breakdown, narrow road sections, religious activities, high volume of traffic, lack of parking space and lack of traffic light at some road intersections.

Simply put, the major causes of traffic congestion in Lagos metropolis are bad road, inadequate road infrastructure, accident, inadequate traffic planning, drivers’ behaviour and lack of integrated transport system.

Similarly, road intersections form a major component of urban roads and are generally prone to traffic congestion. As a matter of fact, traffic wardens and parking problems coupled with the activities of danfo drivers are arguably the greatest causes of traffic congestion/delays at road intersections in Lagos.

Another indicator of traffic congestion in Lagos state is the location of major government offices and companies with respect to the spread of residential areas, where this is not properly considered in town planning and development of master plans for major urban cities, can cause serious congestion problem due to mass movement within the same period as in the case of civil servants moving to and from work around the same period of time.

This is confirmed by studies as the major cause of the worst congestion in Abuja which occur in the morning (8.00 am) and evening (6.00pm) respectively.

The poor planning of transportation system in Nigeria has led to over dependence in motor vehicles resulting in too many vehicles with its accompanied problems including traffic congestion.

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