Lagos state since its metamorphosis from the colony of Lagos in 1862 to becoming the capital of the Federal Republic Nigeria has been a magnet to individuals.
When Lagos officially became the capital of Nigeria, government offices, embassies, and headquarters of multinationals etc. all set up in Lagos. That in turn attracted hordes of workers from other parts of the country; including rapid influx of people from all over Africa especially our neighbors in West Africa.
This ensured that in no time the population of Lagos was climbing steadily to tens of millions. Lagos of 2022 is approximately 15 million people though some will argue that it is about 20 million.
What has all this done to Lagos? Well, the plan of Lagos was for approximately 2-4 million people if the stories being told are true. Since the town planning of Lagos was done as far back as the 60s nothing much has been done to remodel the state. Infrastructure was built with the planning done then and since then the population has far outstripped what was planned. This has brought serious pressure to the infrastructure. A good example is Ikoyi.
Ikoyi; was formerly the abode of the colonial masters of Nigeria. It was well-planned with sprawling “compounds” and well-appointed roads. It was all planned for the select few that Ikoyi was intended for. After independence, the Nigerian elites took over Ikoyi. With the increasing ranks of the Nigerian elite pressure increased on the infrastructure in Ikoyi.
Soon the massive “compounds” (for lack of a better word) were divided into “smaller compound” and mini estates. All this began in the late 90s barely 30 years after independence. For example, where you will ordinarily have a house with an occupancy of ten; you now have a block of flats housing approximately 20 apartments with each flat housing a family of six each. Do the math. That is about 120 people living in a space meant for 10 people. The strain on infrastructure can only be imagined.
Ikoyi of today is now full of skyscrapers; some of them with only 40% occupancy as the exorbitant rental prices deter a lot of Nigerians.
As Lagos expands, new areas are opening up. Areas that were formerly villages and farmlands are now being turned into Estates and mini-cities. When the Pan-African University was built, there were barely any structures surrounding it. The story is different now.
The Dangote Refinery, Lekki Deep Seaport, Lekki Airport are only a few of the new developments that are sure to attract more people to Lagos. The Lekki-Epe expressway is already bearing the brunt of the rapid expansion into Epe. The road is now worse for wear. We eagerly anticipate the regional road and coastal road based on the plan shared by the Lagos state government.
While urbanization is good, infrastructural development must keep pace with it, if not outrun it.
Lagos needs help!