Revisiting Traffic Wahala along the Lekki corridor in Lagos Nigeria
The beautiful picture I saw last night of an expressway in troubled Venezuela had me cast my mind back to the Lekki expressway in Lagos and how it ought to look like. I visited Lagos a couple of weeks ago and was holed up in my hotel in Victoria Island as if I was under house arrest. The thought of going out and the stress of doing that after each day’s work discouraged me. Going to the Lekki area was a “no no” since I could not predict what I would encounter. The main land area was even worse.
At some point, I had to brace up for the odds and make the call. I called my friend and told her I was going to come to her place after work. That was the call I dreaded all week since I came to the town. I knew that once I made the call, there was no going back. So, I made it and zoomed off to Lekki in a taxi I got just outside the hotel haven failed at my attempt at getting a cab via my phone App. I was “Johnny Just Come” to Uber and Taxify, so got it wrong the first time and paid dearly for that. That is a story for another day.
As we cruised along the Lekki expressway, the first thing that hit me was the amount of time we spent at the first toll gate.Can’t this be done in a different way? I asked myself. This was before 4pm in the evening and I imagined what it would be like after 4pm. The next thing I observed was that, while there was no additional road construction going on, there was massive additional housing projects springing up in the streets and adjourning areas along the corridor.
My next port of call was the notorious roundabouts. I call them notorious not because they are bad kids but because of the suffering and pains Lagosian’s go through in passing them. In an earlier essay years ago that got me noticed by some concerned folks in a facebook chat group, I had shouted on top of the roof that no matter the size of any roundabout in that corridor, it would not solve the problem. Even if the roundabout was the size of the equator I had emphasised, it would still not work. I had advocated that only flyovers could serve the purpose in that corridor. A couple of months after that publication, I visited Lagos again, went through the corridor and was amazed at how the traffic was transformed with the large roundabouts. Though it was not the size of the equator, it was large enough to create an impression that it was a solution, especially since it was accompanied with some road markings and traffic directions to process vehicles going into the Phases 1 and 2 estates. The arrangement enhanced vehicular traffic and those going further down the corridor had an easy ride continuing their journey without the nuisance at the junctions.
Few years down the line, all that improvement have now come to nothing as Nigerians have increased in population, and those living in that area have multiplied especially with the sighting of the various mega infrastructure in the Lekki free-trade zone in the corridor.
I believe my initial suggestion stands, flyovers need to be constructed at all the roundabouts along that Lekki corridor to curtail the traffic in that areas just as they have done at the Ajah junction. But like my cab driver pointed out on my way back, it must not stop at the building of the flyovers. He observed that there is traffic even at the so-called Ajah flyover due to the taxi and bus drivers that will stop right there on the flyover rather than going to the service lane. He reminded me of that same habit by bus and taxi drivers on the “stupid” (sorry for my choice of word) single lane flyover at the ever busy Rumuola in Port Harcourt. This single lane is so bad that once any vehicle “Kaput’s” on the bridge, no other vehicle can pass.
And still on that trip back to Victoria Island, I looked out the window and imagined how lovely it would be to have a train just run along the median of that expressway carrying all the children of God. I saw people clustering along the corridor as they waited under the sun for taxi’s and buses to transport them. This train would have also carried a lot of people driving and hence taken a lot of the vehicles out of the road, bringing sanity to an environment that very much needs it.
And finally, I confess that my initial thought as I set out on the trip to Lekki was to propose a moratorium on any building construction in that corridor until the place is sorted out, but I realize so many people will come after me if I suggested that. I guess that may be part of the prize we may all have to pay for the sanity we crave.
Saturday 4th May 2019