Traffic in Lagos is a guaranteed topic amongst most residents and visitors. There are cars everywhere and getting around can be stressful, especially during peak periods. Lagos is densely populated and while there are public transportation options provided (bus, taxi, keke, motor-cycle, boats), driving personal vehicles is the primary mode of transportation that many working Lagosians choose. They find that driving is the most convenient and safe way to commute. For these people, finding parking for their cars is a constant complaint.
Each day, there are thousands of cars that make their way into the old and new CBDs of Marina and Greater Lagos Island (VI, Ikoyi,and Lekki). At Marina, there are large parking lots that accommodate thousands of cars at a time. Many of the employees of the banks and financial firms in the Marina district fill these parking lots before 9am on any given weekday. A quick glance into these parking lots from the bridge above will show that the space is not nearly enough. Not only is the traffic in and out of these large parking lots congested, cars are also squeezed into the tightest possible fits and are then even double or triple parked!
In Victoria Island, the situation is worse. VI was historically designed as a residential district. Hence allowances were not made for additional parking spots. As VI slowly evolved into a commercial district, becoming part of the new CBD area, parking challenges were not considered and adequate parking ratios were not enforced. Most commercial buildings did not make ample accommodation for parking for building tenants. Often times, you see commercial buildings that hold over a thousand people at a time with parking for 30 to 50 cars.
Parking for those not fortunate enough to be assigned a spot within the building’s parking lot, becomes a daily battle of “the earliest and the boldest”. The competition extends to parking in the empty plots of land that are turned into official or unofficial makeshift parking lots. There is also competition for on street parking, with cars parked at precarious angles and squeezed into spots not designed for parking, causing further congestion on the roads.
Parking is definitely a problem in Lagos, especially in the business districts, and the solution will need a multi-pronged approach that will require cooperation from both public and private parties. There is a viable opportunity for commercial parking structures in Lagos; the demand for this is evident in the more congested business and commercial districts. In the past few years, there have been a small number of multi-level prefabricated modular steel commercial parking structures that have shown that the market is ready for these options, the better known of these are the parking lot at ikoyi club, Mega Plaza and that of Apapa and Surulere Shopping mall. These structures were capital intensive to construct, but are proving to be lucrative for the investors.
In more recent times, prefabricated multi-storey steel car ramps are gaining popularity worldwide. These are multi-storey parking structures made from steel that can be assembled in less time than a traditional reinforced concrete structure and are just as safe and long lasting. There are many benefits to using prefabricated steel parking structures, which includes flexibility in its design options which makes it a perfect solution in situations whereby the surface area availability is not sufficient and can be expanded upwards. Its feasibility can be leveraged to certain conditions and/or constraints, such as archaeological sites or city centres (Lagos Marina) because it allows doubling the parking surface without leaving any footprint on the ground, as no settlement of excavations or traditional foundations is needed. It also allows for the doubling of the parking surface by means of a light steel single-deck car park system. The flexibility of the prefab modular steel components makes each project versatile and suitable both for large and small size areas.
Could these structures populate the Lagos skyline any time soon? The market definitely needs these structures, sooner rather than later. In a few years to come, it might appear to be a good venture for investors to explore. For instance, if such solution is introduced in Lagos Marina axis where the existing ground floor parking lots are barely enough to service the banks and other financial institutions, it will go a long way in reducing the traffic congestion to a significant extent, while creating more than triple additional space for parking consequently generating additional revenue for the investors.
In conclusion, it seems in the near time to come, prefabricated steel multi-level parking ramps could be adopted as the most acceptable solution in mitigating the increasing demands of car park spaces in major CBDs of Lagos Marina, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki. This can be accrued to one of its major advantage that, they are generally demountable and can be relocated so to avoid making the choice of converting a surface parking area irrevocably. They are also conceived as temporary parking facilities for temporary parking demand needs which can be easily integrated into the planning of urban infrastructures.
Contributing Author: Jude Okeke