Sanwo-Olu should solve Lagos traffic quagmire

2 months ago
Please Share to your Social Media
Please Follow Naijamerit on Social Media

THE disorderly Lagos traffic is back in the news with the recent release of two new reports. While the Global Traffic Congestion Rankings 2023 emphatically pronounced Lagos city as host to the worst road traffic worldwide, the Danne Institute of Research, a non-profit, said the chaos cost N4 trillion in economic losses annually. This is a reality check for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his team to clean up the mess.

Ironically, the Lagos State Government spends heavily on traffic issues and has a multiplicity of agencies, laws, and task forces involved in easing traffic flow. Yet, chaos and gridlock persist.

Citing poor roads, lack of connectivity, and lax law enforcement, the GTCR rated Lagos the ‘world champion’ in traffic congestion, beating Riga, the Latvian capital, to second place, followed by Tehran, Iran; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Krakow, Poland; Lima, Peru; Cairo, Egypt, and Bucharest, Romania.

Similarly, the Danne report itemised poor infrastructure, lawlessness, poor enforcement of traffic laws, and other factors for the gridlock and attendant losses. Sanwo-Olu should snap out of his complacency and instil orderliness on the highways to sustain the state’s economic growth.

Franca Ovadje, the Executive Director of Danne, further identified poor infrastructure, rampant violation of traffic laws, the activities of touts at bus stops, and the lawless commercial bus drivers.

Apart from crime, overcrowding, and poor sanitation, traffic congestion makes Lagos a hard place to reside and work for its 22 million inhabitants. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index 2023 ranked it the fourth most unliveable among 173 cities surveyed worldwide, beating only Damascus, Syria; Algiers, Algeria; and Tripoli, Libya.

The city was found wanting in the values of stability, healthcare, culture and good environment, education, and infrastructure, unlike top performers like Vienna, Austria; Copenhagen, Denmark; Melbourne, Australia; and Vancouver, Canada.

The government’s major shortcoming is its failure to effectively enforce its robust traffic, street trading, and environmental laws. Its inability to rein in the commercial vehicle bus operators and their equally lawless unions is a major factor. Indiscipline reigns as the bus drivers, notorious for their rudeness and bravado, engage in reckless driving, block other road users, refuse to use designated bus stops, and operate dilapidated vehicles that violate all roadworthiness standards.

Worse, their unions openly operate a state-wide protection and extortion system that one agency estimates to rake in N123 billion annually in illegal levies. The system thrives because of the complicity of law enforcement and state government officials. The state government legitimises the travesty by integrating its favoured faction of the major transport union into its parks management.

Accidents are frequent. The Federal Road Safety Corps disclosed that 79 persons died, and 603 others were injured in 353 road crashes between January and August 2023. It blamed excessive speeding, excessive loading, and operational irresponsibility, and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs among others.

The traffic chaos hampers businesses, social life, and investment. Sanwo-Olu should therefore compel strict enforcement of the traffic laws. State agencies should prioritise traffic management above revenue generation.

Similarly, the anti-street trading laws should be enforced as the spill over of markets onto the roads, illegal roadside shops, street hawkers, and illegal structures also impede traffic.

Sanwo-Olu needs the political will to break the unholy alliance between his government and political party with violent transport union factions.

There should be all-year-round maintenance of roads, and massive roll out of new ones by the state and local governments. The drive for a multi-modal transport system should be speeded up.

Read full article
Please Follow Naijamerit on Social Media