Lagos State’s poor management of traffic congestion is costing it N4 trillion annually in lost revenues, the results of a recent study have shown.
The study by Danne Institute for Research noted that the traffic congestion is not only causing economic losses, but also leading to increased pollution, increased stress levels, and lower productivity.
The study, titled “Behavioural Causes of Traffic Congestion in Lagos,” was funded by the Bank of Industry and Africa Finance Corporation, and emphasised the importance of immediate action to address the economic and social toll caused by traffic congestion. The findings of the study were presented in Lagos recently by the Danne Institute for Research.
According to the report, the average Lagosian spends 2.21 hours per day commuting, with 45 percent of them spending more than two hours. The report also found that the average Lagosian spends 40 percent of their income on transportation, significantly reducing their disposable income.
The report identified behavioural factors as the main contributors to the problem, including poor road infrastructure, traffic law violations, the activities of agberos (touts) at bus stops, and buses stopping to pick up passengers. Other contributing factors include vehicle breakdowns and faulty traffic signals.
According to Franca Ovadje, executive director of the Danne Institute for Research, the staggering loss of N4 trillion could have been better spent on critical sectors such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.
Ovadje emphasised that Lagos’ population of 21 million is not translating into corresponding productivity due to the crippling effect of traffic jams on daily life.
In her words: “Interestingly, 35 percent of our respondents said their number one challenge in living and working in Lagos is the traffic congestion. We also found that the top three main causes of traffic congestion in Lagos are behavioural. These include bad road infrastructure, disregard for traffic laws, activities of agberos at the bus stops, and buses picking passengers.
“We also asked the respondents the three things they would do if they were Governor of Lagos State to solve the traffic problem, they said they would construct, repair and maintain roads; ban agberos from the road and enforce traffic laws.”
In a call to action, Ovadje urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the commissioners of transport and physical and urban planning, to look at the views and recommendations of the report’s respondents.
She said that the state could generate a significant amount of internal revenue by enforcing traffic laws, and that finding solutions to the traffic situation in Lagos should be a top priority in order to enable residents to take advantage of the opportunities in the state and attract investments.
The report suggests that a doubling of the population in developing countries should result in a five to six percent increase in productivity. However, this increase has not been realised in Lagos due to the high cost of doing business and the lack of productivity resulting from the city’s traffic congestion.
According to the report, respondents, who cited traffic congestion as their most significant challenge, suggested solutions centred on road construction, repair, and maintenance, as well as a ban on agberos (touts) and strict enforcement of traffic laws.
In addition, the report recommended increasing the number of alternative transport options, such as trains, trams, and waterways, as well as improved parking management, and increasing public awareness of traffic laws. It also suggested the use of intelligent traffic management systems, such as smart traffic lights, automated tolling systems, and real-time traffic information.
The report calls on government authorities to prioritise these recommendations to improve productivity, attract investment, and generate significant internally generated revenue through enforcement of the law.
Additionally, the report recommended that government authorities should support local businesses in developing digital solutions that address transportation and traffic management. Such solutions could include the development of mobile applications that provide real-time information on traffic congestion and alternative routes, as well as ride-sharing platforms.
The report also highlights that Lagosians spend an average of 2.21 hours commuting daily, with 45 percent spending more than two hours.
As the Lagos State government concludes the construction of the Lekki Coastal Road, the report urges the government to continue its efforts to prevent further traffic congestion. It recommends strict penalties and the deployment of more officers from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), the police, and the military to manage traffic more effectively. The report also highlighted the importance of maintaining and expanding the city’s transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and public transportation systems. Additionally, the report suggested improving the flow of traffic by providing sufficient parking spaces and reducing on-street parking.
The report concludes with a call for a comprehensive campaign against touts and corrupt traffic wardens to restore order and discipline on Lagos roads. The report stresses that this is essential for transforming the city into a livable and prosperous metropolis. It also stresses the need for sustained collaboration between all stakeholders, including the government, businesses, and residents, to address the city’s traffic challenges and improve the quality of life in Lagos.