Lagos Traffic Challenge and Converting Economic Loss to Gain by Austyne Duru

The ever bustling city of Lagos suffers several problems including unplanned population growth, deficit housing, increasing slum counts, inefficient waste management, and perennial traffic congestion. It is true that successive Governments, since 1999 return to democracy, have implemented palliative measures to fix the challenges. Indeed some sectors receive good funding and hence improvement are recorded, one of such sectors is transportation where the Bus Route Transit (BRT) model has been in place for about a decade now. The growing middle class, occasioned by a robust Lagos Economy (being the 5th largest in Africa), has led to nearly five million vehicles commuting Lagos roads on daily basis. Residents in Lagos travel across the Lagos Lagoon every morning and evening to & from the commercial centre where almost 90% of businesses in Nigeria are cramped in the tiny stretch of land extending from Lagos Island to Lekki Peninsula. The meeting point has remained Victoria Island for two decades now and it won’t change in the near future. To this end, the Government must implement a strategy to reward the use of public transportation while discouraging the ‘I-own-a-car’ syndrome and show-off exhibited as driver-only cars flooding the ever-busy roads of Lagos.

Let me explain how it works by sharing a few tips. Lagos traffic challenges can be solved by reviewing the Toll Gates & Tariffs model. It is imperative to apply a regressive tax (toll tariff) model by charging more fee for cars that has fewer passengers. The approach can introduce a flat rate of say N1,000 per vehicle per crossing, then a discount of N50 per head for each commuter in the car. This model will discourage driver-only car on the roads thereby reducing traffic congestion and CO pollution.

Forgive me if this appears draconian but a problem that leads to daily loss of 4 man hours per head requires drastic measures. Traffic congestion represents an Economic loss worth approximately N16,000 per day for a typical Engineer who lives on the Mainland of Lagos but must attend his official duty in offices located on the Island. Imagine crossing any of the three bridges linking the Mainland and Island where you sit helpless and frustrated for two hours every morning and another two hours every evening. I am yet to see any research that has quantified the stress or health cost which a person suffers for leaving his house at 4am and returning by 10pm everyday – zero work/life balance – that has lead to untimely stroke or death in the worse cases.

Now to the main point; Lagosians, stop driving yourself to work as an average of 1.6 person vehicle is very disturbing, laughable, and embarrassing to our collective reasoning. Lagos state should use deterrent measures but must also fulfill certain conditions started in the mix below:

1. Ban all yellow Danfo buses and ensure all are upgraded to Govt approved buses. Employ, educate, and engage the erstwhile drivers & conductors.

2. At least 80% of commercial vehicles must use Diesel (2020), Water (2030), and Electric (2040). Taxis can use fuel and must not exceed 7 passenger vehicles.

3. Create BRT lane on all highways linking the 18 ‘Ambode’ Bus Terminals that were developed.

4. Toll all roads that link Mainland to Island but ensure that BRT buses and Approved Taxis don’t pay.

5. Toll tariff should be based on number of persons in the car, that is, regressive tariff model that gives discount for each head in the car N50 discount per head for a standard flat toll tariff of N1,000. This way, a full bus pays less than an empty car.

6. Open us the transportation value chain for private investors by issuing typical Transport Infrastructure bonds to the public so they can be part owners.

7. Buy over all banned yellow buses from the current operators. Regurbish & sell them to other states for development of their own transport scheme.

8. Ban passenger motorcycles from all highway and major roads where buses, taxis, and tricycles operate. Ensure that Tricycles are licenced and regulated to operate in streets only. There should not be passenger bikes anymore, not even the recent tech-driven formal bikes.

Engr. Austyne Duru is a Nigerian Engineer, Entrepreneur, Researcher, Philanthropist, and Pragmatist. You can follow him on twitter ; LinkedIn: Austyne DURU, Quora: Austyne DURU.

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