Smart moves to curb traffic congestion

Peter Adeyeye, Lagos Community Manager
Lagos, 8 April 2016

An expanding population and the need to commute have created a rising demand for transportation options in Lagos, increasing the number of vehicles on the roads. Although there is a surge in privately owned vehicles, demand for public transportation is also escalating. In 2009, a World Bank report revealed that an estimated 8 million people travel to work through public transport in the city. The influx of vehicles on the road, bad driving, poor management of traffic have been the major causes for traffic congestion on Lagos’s highways.

In addressing the traffic problem, various measures have been adopted, with each achieving some success. However, the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) altered the dynamics of mobility with its provision of a faster, cheaper, cleaner and comfortable means of commuting. The BRT is an innovative, high-performance bus-based transit system which relies on the use of dedicated 'interference' free segregated lanes to guarantee fast and reliable bus travel at metro level capacity. The BRT scheme was introduced in March 2008 and was the first example of a comprehensive and integrated approach to improving public transport in sub-Saharan Africa. It runs through a public private partnership with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (LAMATA) providing the regulatory framework and infrastructure needed while some selected private sector companies procure, operate, and maintain the buses themselves. The 220 buses operate from 6 am to 10 pm with a daily average ridership of 180,000 people. At the pilot phase, the buses run through two major transport corridors, Mile 12 through Ikorodu Road and Funsho Williams Avenue up to CMS.

As part of its 30-years Strategic Transport Master Plan, the governor elect, Akinwumi Ambode in November, 2015 opened the Ikorodu to CMS corridor and injected 434 new air-conditioned buses known as 'BRT Special' or 'BRT Upgrade' to the scheme which serves an estimated 450,000 passengers daily. Besides making commuting easier, the first phase generated 1,000 direct and 500,000 indirect jobs. It has also reduced the number of vehicles on the road, reducing carbon emission and halting traffic congestion.

The Lagos Traffic Radio (96.1 FM) was commissioned in May, 2012 with the aim of 'empowering the commuting citizens and motoring public with needed information on the situation of the roads within the different axes of the state at any point in time, to enable them know the best possible routes available, thus reducing traffic time and congestion'. The stations runs 24 hours per day and has been very helpful in informing motorist on the right routes to take. In addition, GIDITRAFFIC (@Gidi_Traffic) is a social media platform that started in September, 2011 and relies on crowd-sourcing as its primary means of providing traffic information to commuters. It operates mainly on twitter and has close to 600,000 followership. The platform is user interactive and gives the resident the opportunity to access other important information that make the city conducive for all.

The various schemes have been helpful in reducing traffic congestion and its impact on carbon emission. While the Lagos Strategic Transport Master Plan will include six rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, three cable car corridors and 26 developed water routes, it will be even better if the city can explore cleaner means like bicycling with a potential of securing a safer environment, a strengthened public health atmosphere, and ultimately a richer community for everyone.

Photo credit: Peter Adeyeye

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