Recently, the Eko Innovation Centre launched a five million dollars social innovation challenge tagged “Eko Traffic” with the aim of finding innovative solutions to Lagos. While the idea is commendable, there are steps Lagos State Government must first take before implementing solutions gotten from this challenge. In my opinion, most of the traffic jams experienced in Lagos are artificial traffic which can be avoided. Below are my observations that led to this assertion and suggested solution to this issue.
Presently, at the Fadeyi interchange going to Oju-elegba, the surface course (top layer) for some part of the road has been scraped off for days in order for repairs to be carried out. This scraped off area has deteriorated to the extent that it is now worse than it was before it was scraped. There is no visible solution or repair in sight. What you can only see are equipment showcased at the side of the road. Three days ago, this very issue led to a traffic jam from Fadeyi to Maryland and still causing serious traffic daily.
Another scenario is the Oshodi area of Lagos; where the five star bus terminal construction activities is ongoing. The pedestrian bridge on the Mushin –Sango Ota expressway has been blocked off for months now without providing alternative to road users. One third of the road is condoned off due to construction activities, market sellers and passenger vehicles popularly known as ‘Danfo’ leading to serious traffic. All these put together coupled with road users struggling to cross the road is the major cause of traffic along this road. Similarly, the main express way from Oshodi to Isolo leading to Mile 2 is partially blocked off due to construction activities, forcing all motorists to use the service lane which in itself is in a bad condition with series of potholes. One can only wonder what the traffic on this road will be like now with the continuous rainfall causing flooding.
The most baffling of all is the jetty barrier (median) dividing both carriage way that has been redesigned to allow for a conduit service pipe, increase the height and prevent road users from crossing but construction work on the pedestrian bridge which will provide respite for road users has been abandoned or placed on hold. One cannot help but wonder why the pedestrian bridge along Oshodi- Mile 2 was not completed before the plan to increase the height of the jetty barriers commences or why will the construction of the bus terminal lead to the permanent condoning of the two pedestrian bridges on Mushin –Sango Ota road. These are same bridges you would be arrested if you fail to use them when crossing the road a month ago by environmental officers, or why the road resurfacing cannot be done in the middle of the night or why a most three lane roads in Lagos becomes a two lane road with a BRT lane after reconstruction, knowing fully well that even the previous three lane road is not adequate for the number of vehicles plying the road.
Some other examples were such traffic jams are experienced are; Yaba- can be attributed partly to the abandoned terminal project, Ikorodu to Mile 12 and Oshodi to Iyana Paja axis- as a result of poor design and construction of the road.
Even our Institutions are not left out of this worrisome occurrence. The University of Lagos (UNILAG) presently refurbishing its entrance gate and walkway. The contractor have literally condoned off the road with construction materials and activities. This is causing serious traffic on the already busy road. One can only wonder why institutions where we are being taught these construction planning and processes, and look up to for solution can’t schedule the concreting of the road for a Sunday when there is less vehicles plying the routes or why construction activities on the road can’t be ended daily before peak traffic periods in the evenings or why the contractor can’t stack their materials elsewhere off the road and cart only what they need at a time to the road.
A close look at most of Lagos roads will reveal poor construction planning for ongoing projects resulting in traffic, incomplete infrastructural projects mostly from last administration, flooding of major roads as a result of clogged drains or no drain at all, reckless driving and bad roads as the lead causes of traffic experienced in Lagos. These are the issues LASG need to tackle before implementing solutions that will be proposed from this challenge. There are no quick fixes to these issues as they did not just happen in a day but careful and methodological steps towards finding the right solution will sure result in tremendous changes. Some suggestions that can be considered are;
- Planning and Environmental Impact Assessment report must be made part of submissions by intending contractors before projects are awarded to them. This must be approved (even by stakeholders in that) and enforced for all infrastructural project; this will ensure that the impact of that project on all stakeholders are considered during the planning process and workable plans are put in place to ease the sufferings of the people the project will affect.
- The Lagos state Neighborhood watch can be revamped into environmental officers just like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) ensuring that homeowners and business owners are responsible for their environs such as clearing of drains and proper refuse disposal to avoid clogging of major drains and ultimately reduce flooding on the roads. A good example to buttress this point is the Mushin area of the state where you will be amazed at the quantity of debris you will see on the road after rainfall. This has led to continuous deterioration of the road even after continuous routine repairs though the quality of the repairs is also questionable.