‘ I will never work in Lagos.’ I quietly muttered under my breath as I sat in the rickety ‘ danfo ‘ starring blankly at the UBA building. The building which seemed to be starring back at me for the past 30 minutes. It was almost as if it was mocking me.
Welcome to Lagos! Nigeria’s megacity and commercial capital. Along with a population of 20 million people (according to World Population Review) comes a huge transportation problem. With so many people crammed into so little space, it becomes a daunting challenge to move from one point to the other since everyone has to resort to the use of the roads.
According to transportation experts, there is no shortcut to easing transportation problems in Lagos than the completion of rail projects as road transport will always prove inadequate especially for cargo transport. Seeing as Lagos does not currently operate an integrated transportation system, there is need to maximize the existing road infrastructure. This precisely, is the failing of the powers that be.
Lagos is a port city and the port has attracted trailers and cargo trucks from all over Nigeria like ants to sugar. These trucks are literally everywhere. They occupy half of the road section of major routes like the Eko bridge compounding an already sticky problem and making lives more miserable for commuters. It does not take a genius to know that logistics companies will readily seek alternatives to parking their trucks on the roads for months if they are forced to do so.
Maybe the regulators don’t care, or maybe they simply cannot count the cost of their inaction. According to a research by Jcdecaux Grace Lake Nigeria, commuters spend an average of 30 hours in traffic congestion weekly. For the sake of context, if you work at a regular firm doing a 8am to 4pm job, Monday to Friday, that adds up to 40 hours per week. When put together, the average Lagosian spends 65 days in a year in traffic. This is obviously a very big economic price to pay when workers cannot be maximally productive 65 out of 365 days in a year.
Companies and governments alike usually make statements like ‘ our people are our greatest asset ‘ but then go right ahead to show they do not believe their own assertions. This is the case in Nigeria’s commercial heart. A couple of months ago, Lagos was ranked the third worst city to live in the world by the global liveability index, placing 138 out of 140 cities considered. The very lifeblood of Lagos, it’s people, are subjected to an unreal amount of stress. Just like the bridges on which the endless stream of trucks are parked, many are caving under the heavy weight.
As I switched on the radio the next morning on my way to work, I heard the OAP say ‘ this is Lagos, where dreams come true, centre of excellence. ‘ I chuckled and said to myself ‘ it would take a brave man to survive in the midst of all these excellence ‘