Lagos and Crazy Traffic Situation

Nicholas Uchenna Ugwu Written by Nicholas Uchenna Ugwu · 3 min read >

With a landmass of 3,577 square kilometers, Lagos is Nigeria’s smallest state, yet with over 20 million inhabitants, it has the highest urban population in Nigeria. Traffic in Lagos has reached such extreme levels that it has become a major concern to all.

Lagos residents spend a great proportion of their daily time in traffic, leaving little or no time for other useful activities. An average wake-up time for people in Lagos is 4:00 am. Some wake up as early as 3:00 am to get things ready and meet up with the traffic to work every day. It is therefore safe to say that the biggest problem of people leaving in Lagos is the traffic

Causes of Traffic on Lagos Roads

Below are highlighted a few causes of traffic on Lagos roads.

  1. Overpopulation

Lagos state has over 5 million registered drivers on its roads, with a daily average of around 227 vehicles per kilometer. This exceeds the national average of 11 vehicles per kilometer. The fact is that Lagos’ transportation infrastructure is not keeping pace with the city’s rising migration rates. This has put serious stress on the road with so many vehicles at a time. Sometimes, people wonder if everyone in Lagos leaves in the same location as workers leave the house and face one direction in the morning and turn to the opposite direction in the evening going back home at the same time. It is obvious that the number of vehicles on the road is far beyond capacity.

  • Bad roads

 Nigeria’s roads are in bad shape. Potholes are a major cause of Lagos traffic congestion, they require drivers to slow down, resulting in “stop and go” driving. Furthermore, swinging around portholes can cause accidents, another source of traffic congestion.

  • Traffic is also caused by people changing lanes frequently and even driving too close to each other and causing problems in the process.
  • Multiple road construction

The government repairs or reconstruct roads routinely. What happens is that multiple road constructions begin almost at the same time, leaving people with little or no alternative route. One would expect the road construction to happen in phases, one after the other, to reduce the impact on road users. That is usually not the case, road constructions usually start in multiple locations simultaneously, and most times, they are abandoned halfway or delayed for a long time. In such a situation, road users witness heavy traffic due to the construction work going on for a very long time.

  • Commercial bus drivers

This refers Danfo Drivers as they are popularly called. These drivers have a history of breaking traffic laws. They drive dangerously, against traffic, and in buses that are not roadworthy. Worse still, they pick up passengers in undesignated areas. These buses suddenly stop on major routes, causing traffic bottlenecks.

Impact of Traffic on Lagos Roads

  1. Excess time delay

Automobiles, transit, and public and private vehicle users witness an excess time delay using the road. Longer travel times result in a cost to road users in the form of value placed on this excess time spent traveling. There is an inability to forecast movement time accurately as traffic could be very unpredictable. This can make planning very difficult thereby resulting in less productivity.

  • Increased vehicle operating cost

 Vehicle operating costs increase in congested traffic conditions due to the stop-and-go nature of travel; wear and tear on vehicles because of idling in traffic and frequent acceleration and braking, leading to more frequent repairs and replacements. Additionally, high traffic volumes represent operating costs more than the socially optimal level

  • Environmental Pollution

 As with operating costs, vehicle emissions increase with congestion due to the stop-and-go driving conditions, and the total amount of emissions is inefficiently high due to excess traffic volume.

Way Forward

While the Lagos state government works towards a long-term solution to the traffic situation on Lagos roads, a few suggestions could help reduce the traffic on the road.

  1. Quick intervention to repair port holes on the roads. Concerned agencies should be proactive in repairing roads and not wait until it has become terribly bad and caused major traffic before they come to the rescue.
  2. Vehicle drivers should be more organized and orderly on the road. If everyone could drive carefully, maintain the same lane, and be patient with each other, it can help reduce traffic. Commercial drivers should be more mature, stop to drop off, and pick up passengers only at designated locations while parking off the road.
  3. LASTMA officials are meant to ease traffic and not necessarily watch and catch private vehicle offenders while allowing commercial drivers block to the road.
  4. More signposts will be useful to display specific rules and conditions for certain places, a signpost may tell road users to maintain their lane and not to cross over to the next lane. This will keep the road free from moves that can cause traffic by collision or recklessness.

In conclusion, the Traffic situation in Lagos is a very serious issue that needs urgent attention.  People spend useful hours on the road making them less productive and very stressed.  It also leads to less rest and sleep as people wake up so early to leave for work and come back so late leading to more health challenges.


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