What's the vision for the poor, in this mini-planet of slums?
It made international news headlines. An estimated forty thousand persons, rendered homeless in no time, when a demolition squad rolled into Ijora Badia community. It's the way of Lagos, it seems. The poor — who make up the 'informal economy' that reportedly constitutes about 70 percent of the city's population — are perpetually on the run, hounded by government policies that seem to exist for the purpose of making more land available for the minority well-off to play with. (Apparently the bulldozers' metal fist has been dangling above Ijora Badia since 1996/97.) Read more.
Lagos is in a transportation crisis. A city of close to 15 million persons, Lagos is larger than London, but without a train system corresponding to the London Tube. A combination of bad roads, too many cars and trucks, and frequent accidents means that the city is often gridlocked. Everyone who can afford a car buys one, since what passes for public transportation is largely inhospitable — a network of tens of thousands of mini-buses known locally as danfos. In the last few years the government has introduced a bus system that takes advantage of dedicated lanes, but its capacity is a far cry from what is needed. In any case it still has to depend on the overburdened road network. The motorcycle taxis (okadas) that once dominated and defined the metropolis, providing an opportunity for time-challenged travellers to weave through traffic jams, have recently come under the government's hammer. Without radical and intelligent solutions the situation is bound to worsen, as Lagos is Africa's fastest growing city, and the World Bank estimates that there will be more than 20 million people in it by 2020. What is clear is that Lagos cannot hope to make a dent on its traffic situation without forms of mass transportation that can convey large numbers of people outside of the road network. The solutions will lie on land — rail lines — and in the water. Read more.