We’ve covered the less costly and easier to implement short-term alternatives that can help alleviate congestion in Lagos. In the second instalment of our two-part series, we examine the long-term measures the city can implement to significantly reduce traffic issues.
Long-term decongestion solutions are defined as more difficult to implement and can be quite cost prohibitive. Immediate examples that come to mind include flyovers at key roundabouts such as the VGC/Ajah axis that has recently experienced a spike in congestion due to the rain season.
A congestion charge is another example where users are charged during high peak hours when congestion is known to occur. Users are charged for use of bus services, electricity, metros, railways, telephones, and roads during peak hours. The objective is to discourage people from using these goods or services at these peak periods in time, and ultimately reduce traffic congestion. Airlines and shipping companies can also be charge higher fees for slots at airports and canals at busy times. This pricing strategy regulates demand, making it possible to manage congestion without increasing supply. Market economics theory, which encompasses the congestion pricing concept, postulates that users will be forced to pay for the negative externalities they create, making them conscious of the costs they impose upon each other when consuming during the peak demand.
The congestion charge has been used effectively in European cities such as London whereby upon implementation in 2003, the policy resulted in fewer cars on the road, less pollution and has had a positive impact on businesses. Findings show that, on average, the number of cars entering the central zone in London was 60,000 less than the previous year, representing a drop in non-exempt vehicles of 30%. Meanwhile, the number of taxis has risen by 13%, bus and coaches by 25%and bicycles by 49%, confirming significant changes to London’s transport patterns over the next five years. In 2008, drivers handed over £252.4m in congestion charge payments to Transport for London (TFL) authorities. Running the scheme cost £130.1m and, when other costs such as administration and depreciation were taken into account, TFL was left with a net income of £89.1m from the charges. The organisation is required by law to reinvest its “profit” into public transport with the aim of creating a virtuous circle, tempting former drivers back on to buses and other public transport alternatives.
Lagos Rail Mass Transit network
While long-term decongestion solutions are capital intensive for developing cities, it tends to be the most efficient mode to immediately decongest any given area. For instance, the development of underground rail networks linking neighbourhoods is capital intensive, but provides a long-term solution for alternative transportation within the city. The introduction of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) network is a laudable effort of the city. The railway network links key areas in the mainland such as Festac Town to the Island. When completed, the LRMT will be responsible for shuttling up to 3 million people back and forth through Lagos – from the mainland to the island and back. This will mean a subtraction of 3 million people from the daily Lagos commute – what a huge impact this would have! The LRMT forms 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 infrastructure in the state.
A final long-term sustainable solution will be a revamping of the existing urban plan of the city. Though this will be quite challenging as the city consistently evolves with the growing population, it is nonetheless essential. Effective urban planning and execution are necessary elements for the growth and development of any city, particularly Lagos.
Popularly known as the largest city in Africa and also a major financial centre on the African continent, whether for business or pleasure, Lagos remains one of the most sought after cities in the world. Having a mixture of some of the mentioned decongestion strategies can help the development and growth of Lagos city into a modern metropolis.
Blog co-authored by Abdulhakeem Sadiq