Saturday, September 19, 2020

Lagos: Who will end the go-slow syndrome in Nigeria’s commercial capital city?

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From Ojota total filling station to Mile 12 Underbridge, I almost spent 3 hours. A journey which could have taken me 15 to 20 minutes ceteris paribus.

The questions have I taken the wrong route? Or was there an accident? Kept bothering my mind from time to time. No one seemed to be talking as all the passengers lay like corpses waiting to be buried.

I finally summoned the courage to ask what the situation was only to be told that there was a go slow. For over three hours at the same spot? No, I can’t take this anymore. I paid the driver his fare and highlighted to join other pedestrians to trek.

The above scenario is the daily experience of citizens living in Nigeria’s capital city, Lagos. The city which has the slogan of being the centre of excellence stands true considering the fact that it houses the headquarters of some major public companies and establishments both owned by Nigerians and expatriates. Apart from this, it is one of the commercial nerve centres of the country which has made it an object of attraction to the world at large.

Also, it was one of the former capital cities of the country before it was replaced with Abuja. From reliable statistics, Lagos has a landmass area of about 3,577 square kilometres which when compared to the nation’s administrative capital, Abuja, is half its size.

Based on the census, it has a population of close to 30 million inhabitants. This is close to the population of Kano which is also one of the biggest cities in Northern Nigeria.

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By all standards, a layman would have thought that the traffic situation would have been structured to allow free passage of both human and vehicular movement. Sadly enough, the reverse seems to be the case as Lagosians on a daily basis are forced to battle with the demon known as go-slow. It wouldn’t be an understatement or hyperbole to say that it is one of the worst cities for driving.

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Many even hold the popular belief that contrary to the notion that a vehicle was faster in speed than human locomotion, human locomotion was faster than a vehicle in Lagos State.

You will hear an average Lagosian telling you that if you have a meeting scheduled for twelve, it was better to leave home before 5 as anything after that was facing the dilemma of the Go-Slow. Is it not ludicrous for someone to leave home several hours ahead of time just to battle with something which could have been averted if adequate measures were put into place?

From the unending noise of hustlers, traders and hawkers, to the honks emanating from trailers and other forms of vehicles, one will be quick to conclude that the average life expectancy for anyone who chooses Lagos as a base is a little above 30 or 40 years. How about the obnoxious odours emanating from septic tanks and sewage? Or probably the clustered arrangement of houses and buildings which makes breathing a herculean task? These and other factors coupled with the Go-Slow syndrome have made many to flee to their villages for refuge. After all, eating pulse in the village was far comfortable to taking wines and other assorted meals in the city of Lagos.

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While I wouldn’t want to dwell extensively on the causes of the go-slow syndrome in Lagos states which among other things include: bad state of roads, huge gap between excessive migration and abundance of resources, slumps and clustered arrangements of infrastructure, frequent breakdown of vehicles especially commercial ones due to non-maintenance among others. All these are some of the probable reasons for the go-slow syndrome in Lagos State. A classic example is the third mainland bridge which was recently shut down for repairs.

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It is no wonder therefore that huge avalanche of both financial and human resources are lost to the goddess of Go-Slow. This many times has caused accidents and other forms of losses which cannot be quantified using any standard.

How then can the syndrome be abated?

To put an end to the daily go-slow scenario requires an all-inclusive approach of both the government at all levels and the entire citizenry.

On the path of the government, there has to be a policy limiting the number of migrants inter alia. Also, truck drivers should be given a policy that prevents them from operating at “ungodly hours”.

Provision of adequate bus-stops to prevent carrying of passengers at unlawful places by commercial vehicles operators.

Rail and water transport could also be revived to ease the constant congestion in Lagos.

The citizens also have a role to play and this includes: obeying traffic symbols and adhering to the policies of the government as regards traffic management. Defaulters and violators should be made to pay fully for their wrongdoings.

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Implementing all the above practises will assist in easing the constant congestion in Lagos. By these, productive hours wouldn’t be lost to a trifle circumstance.

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