Terrible! Horrible! Horrendous! These are some of the adjectives to describe the untold hardship commuters experience on daily basis trying to connect the island from the mainland part of Lagos state. At the height of this regular unpalatable experience is Monday morning commute. The third mainland bridge is the connecting bridge between the mainland and island parts of Lagos state. Lagos state is one of the six south western states in Nigeria. It was the capital of Nigeria before the capital was moved to Abuja, the new federal capital territory. What are the major causes of this traffic? Are there no possible solutions on the horizon for this perennial problem? I would like to express my mind on the causes of the traffic and proffer some solutions to ease the traffic.
Causes of the traffic
Lagos state is congested compared to other states in Nigeria. Daily, the Lagos area is growing by some 3,000 people, or around 1.1 million annually, so the true population figure of the greater Lagos area in 2022 is roughly 28 million (up from some 23.5 million in 2018). Another state that comes close to Lagos state in terms of population is Kano state – 14.2 million. Every other state of the federation has much lower figures than these. Have we asked ourselves why people keep trooping to Lagos state? Lagos is all comers – both for the lettered and unskilled individuals. This is simply because Lagos is the economic hub of Nigeria boasting of contributing about 10 % of the national income or put in economics parlance, the gross domestic product (GDP) to the federal government coffers. Most graduates after their compulsory national youth service head to Lagos to earn a living. Imagine a substantial percentage of graduates from many universities and polytechnics from all over Nigeria yearly come to Lagos to struggle for livelihood, because there is high unemployment rate in their various states. Even beggars know that they must be in Lagos to make good money.
Another cause of the traffic is the lack of alternative roads to the island. The only alternative road is Ikorodu road which is barely two lanes and can hardly cope with inflow of vehicles. As the population of a city or state is increasing, it is expected that the roads should be expanded to accommodate more commuters. If you look at the third mainland carefully, you realize that it is about four lanes. This is a problem because when there is a breakdown of vehicle, one lane is shut down and people manage to drive on the other three lanes.
Lagos state needs to be decongested. How? Other state governments should strive to industrialise their various states and provide employment for their citizens. Why do I need to go out of state to look for a job if I can earn a living in my state? People love to be close to their families and will be more than happy to work locally than to work out of state.
We need alternative routes to link the mainland and the island. There has been yearning for long time for the fourth mainland bridge to be constructed. While we are waiting for the fourth mainland bridge or other coastal roads, it will relieve commuters a great deal if the existing roads can be expanded.