Josiah Akinyele writes that Lagosians would soon be riding the Metro, 40 years after it was mooted
If Lagos State is the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos Island would qualify as the heartbeat of the state. Boasting proximity to the major ports of Apapa and Tin Can, Lagos Island hosts headquarters of major banks, finance houses and other companies. Like Broad Street is synonymous with commerce, same goes for others, in varying degrees. And just over at Victoria Island lie the swanky offices, homes, hotels and touristy spots. A little beyond on the former Bar Beach lies the futuristic Eko Atlantic City.
recently, Governor Sanwo-Olu, tweeted, “On 15th April, 2021, when I performed the ground breaking ceremony of our Red Line Metro Project, I announced that we would hit major milestones quickly.
“I am excited to announce that the twin Talgo intra city ten coach Metropolitan trains for the project have arrived in Lagos!”
Many Lagosians can’t wait to ride on it. And for good reason too. Since the days when Molue, the modified yellow and black striped painted Mercedes Benz and Bedford truck-turned buses, packed commuters like sardines in a tin, public transportation has evolved. First was the phasing out of the Molue, which had become a nasty Lagos signature. To replace it were luxury buses under a Bus Rapid Transportation (BRT) scheme. Already, the BRT has achieved success and is embraced by many Lagosians. The state government has also focused on water transportation and built more jetties. Now, with the coming of the rails, the vision of an interconnected mode of transportation is set to become a reality. At the CMS, depending on one’s destination, people would have the choice of commuting by rail, road or water or any combination. Other similar connections with the BRT exist throughout the rail corridors.
With the high population density, moving around in Lagos is hectic. According to the Lagos State Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA), there are over five million cars and 200, 000 commercial vehicles on Lagos roads. The agency issues an average of 20, 000 licence plates monthly and controls more than 60% of number plates issued in the country. In fact, Lagos is the only state that produces number plates. It also records an average of 227 vehicles for every kilometre of road compared to the national average of 11 vehicles per kilometre of road. Coupled with a population of 20 million people, it is little wonder Lagos is plagued with monster traffic jams.
A 2021 report by a Lagos-based research institute, Danne Institute for Research, hinted that Lagosians spent an estimated 14.12 million hours lost by Lagosians while commuting to work daily. Professor Franca Ovadje, Founder/Executive Director, Danne Institute, presented the findings of the research at the virtual Transport and Traffic Conference organised by the institute.
“We found that the cost to individuals of traffic congestion is N133,978.68 per annum for those who own their vehicles and N79,039.40 each year for those who use public transport,” said Professor Ovadje.
“The total loss to Lagos is estimated at 14.12 million hours per day or N3.834 trillion per annum.”
At that event, Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, said that the strategy of the government is to modernise and maximise existing transport networks and implement the Lagos Transport Master Plan that proposes investment in a multimodal transport system like waterways and seven rail lines, and the development of the millionaire cities so that residents won’t have to go to the island to get well-paying jobs or do business. A year later, the state is much closer to those goals as the BRT system and First Last Mile (FLM) system are becoming more acceptable, the romance with water transportation is getting tighter and Lagosians would finally be able to ride the Metro, forty years after it was mooted.
Lagos is Nigeria’s smallest state by land mass but it is also the most populated. The congestion translates into the traffic jams which have become characteristic of the state. Ask anyone who moves around in Lagos, they would have a horror story or more to tell you about the traffic. But with the introduction of the Metro Line and its potential to move half a million passengers daily, it promises to ease transportation, free Lagos roads of more cars and ensure efficiency in transportation. Who wouldn’t love that?
Akinyele writes from Lagos
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