Infrastructure investments to reduce poverty in Lagos suburbs

Peter Adeyeye, Lagos Community Manager

Lagos is Nigeria’s employment hub. The economic opportunities available in the metropolis continue to lead to a high influx of people from across the country. The city’s population is estimated at 21 million with an annual addition of 600,000 people per year, exerting pressure on the already strained land resources. Lagos, a coastal city with total land mass of 3,577 square kilometres and more than 20% constituting lagoons, swamps, marshes, and creeks already faces a housing deficit for its teeming population. It is estimated that the city currently faces a shortfall of one-million units of housing.

High costs for decent accommodation in the main city forces many people to the suburbs. Those with lower economic means seek residency in outskirts areas, such as Ikorodu, Epe, Sango, Mowe, and Badagry. Though these locations are not too far from the metropolis, access has been the major challenge. The transportation means are limited with heavy reliance on road transport. Even with that, the road network to these locations is bad and the traffic management generally poor.

A survey conducted by V-Park Management Solutions Limited in 2011 found that professionals working in Lagos spend almost four hours each day commuting to and from their place of work for a 15-kilometer journey, translating to an increased number of productive hours for professionals living in Lagos outskirts with an average total distance of 60 kilometers daily. For instance, 34-year-old Oluwatosin, who lives in Ogijo area of Ikorodu and works in Lagos Island, explained his ordeals, "I leave the house between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. in order to get to work before 9:00 a.m. I leave the office at 6:00 p.m. only to get home most times after 10:00 p.m. I don’t even get to see my neighbourhood except on weekends."

A project that will address this challenge is the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT), which is a network of urban rail-based systems covering seven major corridors of high commuter traffic demand within and beyond the metropolitan Lagos, extending to border areas like Ogun and Oyo states. The project is a major component of the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which has been developed to guide as a compass for the development of public transport infrastructures in the state. The seven lines represent seven major axis points and are distinguished by different colours.

One of these is the Blue Line Rail Project. It is a 27-kilometer railroad with 13 stations from Okokomaiko to Marina, which started in 2009. The project is presently under construction right in the middle of Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which the government is expanding into a 10-lane international gateway. Commuters from Badagry will join the rail at Okokomaiko, connecting them to Marina in Lagos Island. The Blue line project was officially commissioned in 2009 and awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains, which are emissions free, are proposed for use with the capacity to move 400,000 people daily and later 700,000 when the route becomes fully operational.

The governor elect, Akinwumi Ambode on 13 November made a promise that his administration will complete the project by December 2016 and immediately commence the Red Line project that covers Agbado in Ogun State to Marina. Investment in transportation will ease commuting and open up the outskirts to opportunities.

Photo: Peter Adeyeye

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