Can This Revolutionary Policy Be The Cure To The Evil Traffic In Lagos City?

Ojota Bridge

Just Friday last week, the city of Kigali, Rwanda issued a rule of regular car-free days. This means, according to the city mayor, particular streets would be closed off for car use to allow people ‘walk to work.’

Sunday the 8th of June, 2016 was the second ‘car free day’ in Kigali. Residents had fun using roller, skates, skating boards and bicycles to get around the city.

When I shared this information in the Farabale studios and asked my colleagues if this idea would work in Lagos, they looked at me like:

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In the overpopulated city of Lagos, citizens of the state adjust their entire daily lives according to possible traffic gridlocks around major highways and inner city roads, caused mostly by motorists, tricycles and bikes. Bad urban planning and disregard for traffic rules also add to the confusion.

With over 4 million cars and 100,000 commercial vehicles on the roads (the national average is 11 vehicles per kilometre), Lagos daily records an average of 227 vehicles per every kilometre of roads. One of the major fallouts of this scenario is the unending and scary Lagos traffic gridlock. Areas mostly affected by the traffic gridlock include Apapa, Orile-Mile 2-Badagry axis, the Alimosho conurbation, Lagos Island, Ojota-Ketu-Mile 12-Ikorodu axis among others.

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So, it would seem that a ‘No Car Day’ or ‘Walk To Work’ policy would be one of the easiest ways to alleviate this, right? Wrong.

According to a Lagosian, Abideen who commutes over 15km every day to and from work via the government provided transportation called BRT commented,

“Walk-to-work policy can not work in this part of the world [Lagos]. For someone like me, I live in Ikorodu and work on the island. It’s a two-hour journey and you want me to walk from my house to the office? What am i gaining? If i want fitness,i would go to the gym. I know some places in the netherlands where they ride bicycles to work but this place. Lagos? Nope, maybe it can work in Ogun, Oyo, Edo and Ekiti where there i’snt much hustling and bustling like Lagos.”

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Many mainland Lagosians work in the commercial nerve center Victoria Island, a location only accessible via two main bridges and a few waterways. What would happen if one of these main bridges was closed once or even twice a week? The thought is completely unthinkable to Kolawole, who runs a shop in one of the main Island markets in Balogun.

“I don’t even want to think about it! It can’t even work. Forget it. I should walk to my shop? I tell you even if the government is crazy enough to implement it what you will get is hundreds of thousands of Lagosians walking all over the roads at odd hours of the day, to be robbed.”

His concerns are valid because a few months ago, a major highway was cordoned off to force pedestrians into using a pedestrian bridge at Ojota. The congestion of human traffic on that single footbridge caused hysteria on social media, with many sharing their horrible experiences via tweets and photos.

Omobolanle’s concern is slightly cosmetic but equally important. She says:

“I don’t even mind the policy. The issue for me will be the intensity of the Body Odor. What will the government do when we are all smelling because of all the sweat?”

Good point.

But the search for a cure for Lagos traffic is still on and the jury is still out on this revolutionary idea and we know from history that great societies are built on great ideas. What do you think? Do you think this walk to work policy is a crazy idea?

 

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Goke Alabi

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