By Adekunle Adekoya
I wish to round up discourse on the possibilities of Lagos being a smart city within the shortest possible time. Of course, it can be seen that a lot of obstacles abound in the realization of this ideal, but personally I like to look at the sunny side of things. If there are issues, they should be tackled but nothing should be allowed to detract from set objectives.
In the last take of this column I wrote of the law enforcement angle to making the city’s traffic flow significantly better than what we currently experience. A few years back, under a World Bank-assisted programme, the Lagos government embarked on Junction Improvement Works all over the metropolis. As I see it, the implementation of the Junction works was to make the traffic flow.
It did, in the first few months. Except in Alausa, some parts of Ikeja, and locations in the island, the impact of the Junction Improvement Works has almost vanished completely. Also, at these junctions, traffic lights were installed. The benefits of that device in regulating traffic flow bears no repetition here, but current experience indicates that many of these traffic lights no longer function, while men in various uniforms now do what traffic lights were installed for.
There is no need to ask whether there is a relationship between traffic lights that don’t function and the over-bearing presence of uniformed personnel at the junctions. The smart objective of the Junction Improvement Works has been defeated by manual, pecuniary traffic control.
Also, a smart city has to have a response system to failures in infrastructure that make life liveable for residents. Presently Lagos State has LASIMRA (Lagos State Infrastructure Monitoring & Regulatory Authority), and it should be the agency with this responsibility. If a road fails, LASIMRA should know within 48 hours and see how repair works can begin within the 48 hours after that.
Presently motorists and commuters are going through sheer hell at the failed portion of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway at Ilasamaja. Politics of road ownership aside, Lagos residents shouldn’t suffer after paying their tax. Okay, that is a federal road undergoing repairs but the contractor just hasn’t got to that point. What then do we say about Iyana-Ejigbo in the Ejigbo LCDA?
The colourless political leadership in the area is yet to appropriately rise to the failure of that section of the road, a state road. The story of that road’s perennial failure at that point over the years means issues around it have to be tackled and resolved in favour of the majority of the people. Developing a market on the flood plains of rivers that were extinguished in the first place by land speculators is anything but smart.
What this translates into is the need to constructively engage the traditional tier of leadership with a view to ensuring that they key into the smart vision for Lagos. That includes the antics of the omo-oniles, the agberos, and other non-smart, revenue-driven human fixtures whose activities are simply dangerous to the environment in the long term. In these days of climate change, Lagos authorities should monitor land sales properly. Entire flood plains are being sold by desperate omo-onilesto people equally desperate to own homes. When the chicken comes home to roost, even the innocent ones will pay. That is not smart at all.