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A city on the brink

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By Chioma Gabriel

I don’t know who did this to Lagos. In the past, people used to refer to Ajegunle, Mushin, Ijora condescendingly. But nowadays, it seems the whole Lagos has become Ajegunle, Mushin and Ijora.

The most killing these days is the traffic. There is no thoroughfare in Lagos. If you are not aware and you leave your house, you will ‘die’ in the traffic.

How is it possible that a few big men will hold an entire state hostage with their own businesses? Tanker and fuel container owners have destroyed Lagos and its neighbouring Ogun State. One big man who owns over a hundred containers and his colleagues have chased every other road user away or reduce them to suffer in the traffic. A journey of 45minutes now take three to four hours or more; the unfortunate thing being that the tankers and containers now park inside residential streets, occupying roads and making it impossible for other road users. Cars and commercial buses are trapped in the traffic for hours. Occupants groan in the traffic because a few big men who believe they have power have obstructed the entire state. Anywhere you go, you must encounter traffic for hours. Residential roads, corner streets are not safe either. Anywhere you go, you are trapped in traffic.

What has become of Fashola’s mega city? He is still the minister of works. Let him come to Lagos and see the damage done to the city.

Bad roads, pot-holes, refuge dumps on the roads. Let Fashola come and see. Apapa is gone. The surroundings are gone with it. If Ajegunle was bad, what it has become currently is indescribable. Come to Apapa and see with your eyes.Try to drive around the entire state. There are no laws governing Lagos anymore. Nobody seems to be in charge. If anything or anybody is in charge, it’s the tanker and container drivers that are in charge. They are the law. They work for the big men and so, they are untouchable.

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Aliens from ’God knows where’ have flooded the city.

Cities are known to grow rural-urban migration and Lagos,  a town of about 300,000 people in 1950 had become a metropolitan area with a population of more than 17 million by 2006 and the  population grows by over a million people  every year.

Lagos is one of the world’s two dozen or so me­gacities.

Lagos State was estimated to have expanded to 25 million residents by 2015. It did much more than that and hence has become a problem.

A while ago, the social media was agog with the arguments and counter-arguments of who owns Lagos. Interestingly, most of the governors of Lagos have come from other states of the south-west. Hardly had any true Lagosian become a Lagos State governor.

Lagos, according to history was first inhabited before the 15th century and  grew from a small fishing and farming settlement on an island to a coastal town. The Portuguese who arrived in 1472 gave the island its present name of Lagos. The town was later noted for its role in the slave trade in the 17th century.

In 1861, Lagos became a colony of the British. When the Protectorate of Nigeria was subsequently formed in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital. It remained Nigeria’s administrative capital after the nation became independent in 1960, until the seat of government moved to Abuja in December 1991. Lagos didn’t become a special status as former political and administrative headquarter like  Germany gave Bonn when the government moved to Berlin.

But Lagos has flourished as a trade centre with the population increasing by the day.

The rise in population of Lagos was attributed to the fact that Lagos is the social and commercial hub of the country, and that it hosts the headquarters of multinational companies.

For this reason, Lagos is popularly referred to as a city that never sleeps. Commercial activities take place in many parts of this city 24 hours every day and are a dream city for millions of Nigerians.

Lagos is the main financial centre of West Africa.

But Lagos has become a shadow of its former self. It is no longer beautiful. The beautiful highways and pathways are gone. Its aesthetic beauty is gone. The foreign investors are gone and many are still going. The big companies that used to be in Apapa have disappeared. The few big men have chased them away.

The traffic gridlock on Lagos roads makes living in Lagos a real hell. The road traffic issue is a serious issue in Lagos; imagine spending 4-10 hours every day on the road!! You can bring out a lot of disadvantages in that – wasted man-hours, wasted profits, health challenges.

Lagos is the only mega city in the world without a subway or consequential metro system of any kind period and it is in such a predicament that much of the city’s traffic problem sits. The metro systems for New York, London, Tokyo, Mexico City, RIO, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Bombay all transport MILLIONS of passengers a day each.

A metro system in a city the size of Lagos is detrimental for maintaining a smooth transportation flow, in that they take the people off of the surface of the city and transports them under the city and or above it.

Lagos has grown in leaps and bounds without any form of planning. It will be quite difficult to construct a workable subway system without enormous changes which I doubt can be afforded.

Lagos needs a serious plastic surgery and to carry that out, it needs a strong-willed governor.

If Lagosians don’t set a strong urban renewal, in few years time, there’ll be a massive drift away from Lagos to other coastal cities. Movement to more conducive environs is happening globally as in Halliburton moving headquarters from Texas to Dubai.

The situation in Lagos has reached a point of emergency.





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