The federal government will close the 3rd mainland bridge for repair works from July 26 to July 29, 2018. But that’s not why I’m up in the dead of the night to write this piece.
I’m okay with shutting down the bridge for fixing. That’s a no-brainer. What I'm still trying to wrap my head around is why Lagos State Sector Commander of the Federal Roads Safety Corps, (FRSC), Mr Hyginus Omeje, had to make a careless remark while announcing closure of the busiest bridge in the country.
Omeje practically blamed Lagosians for the traffic gridlock that has become their lot.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Omeje as saying that “the vehicular occupancy ratio in Lagos was 1:1 which meant that there was an average of one driver per vehicle that plied the road, hence the usual heavy traffic”.
Omeje said: “Instead of everybody coming out with their vehicles within this period, can we do the park-and-ride option which we have been advocating to really help us ease off traffic in Lagos?"
If you follow Omeje’s logic, the reason why there’s so much traffic in Lagos is because there are so many cars in Nigeria's commercial capital. Reminds one of when Chief Obasanjo said Nigerians aren't poor because there are so many cars in Lagos.
Omeje actually believes that everyone or almost everyone owns a car in Lagos, hence the chaotic traffic. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Lagos is a commuter’s nightmare because it doesn’t have a decent public transportation system. Lagos' roads are chaotic because there are pot-hole ridden. Lagos doesn’t work because articulated trucks are allowed to park indiscriminately, obstructing free flow of traffic. Most persons can’t ditch their cars and do 'park and ride' because the alternatives would be stinking Danfos, badly behaved Danfo drivers, creaking Coaster buses and the Okada man who has been handed a license to kill.
With a population of over 20 million residents, it is a shame that Lagos has no rail system to call its own. Waterway transportation is inadequate and unreliable. The BRT is a drop in the ocean and only plies one route.
The problem with Lagos isn’t the “vehicle occupancy ratio of one vehicle to one Lagosian”. The problem with Lagos is a lack of foresight, problem solving skills and too much corruption in government. The president has just commissioned a light rail project in an Abuja with a population of just over one million inhabitants. Yet Lagos which is overpopulated and brimming with humans everywhere you turn, has no rail transport system. Priorities.
Seriously, some of us living in Lagos hate to drive. We really do. If we had a decent public transportation system, we’ll only look for the car keys during weekends. Omeje is one more example of a government official not being able to understand what ails the people because he’s never given it a thought.
It’s little wonder we are where we are as a nation.