Friday, June 14, 2024

LAGOS: A ‘MEGACITY’ WITH WANING INFRASTRUCTURE

I’ll begin by saying, today I spent 2hrs in traffic for a 15 mins journey, so I am, understandably, upset. It’s an absolute wonder to me how the word ‘Megacity’ became associated with the city of Lagos. One would think the economic capital and at a time the federal capital of Nigeria would be built on proper infrastructural planning and not tropes like ‘Lagos the megacity’, but here we are. One could even say the numerous challenges bedeviling Lagos are characteristics peculiar to a dystopian state.

The city of Lagos still has far too many slums and squatter settlements, it lacks a functioning public transportation system, proper traffic management, efficient waste disposal, sanitation, adequate potable water supply etc. Particularly, the traffic situation in Lagos is abysmal, leaving millions of Nigerians exhausted and depressed on a daily basis. In 2021, the Danne Institute for Research, a Lagos-based research institute, said in its Connectivity and Productivity Report that Lagos State loses about N4 trillion yearly as a result of its infamous traffic congestion problem. N4 trillion is a hefty price to pay for traffic congestion in any economy. One can only imagine the extent of its health implications on the citizens too.

It is astonishing that the State Government, having the understanding that Lagos is below sea level, has a teeming population of over 21 million people living in one of the smallest states of the country by land size, does not seem to have infrastructure on its front burner. The roads are littered with potholes and craters, unfinished construction projects scattered around, and piles of actual dirt. And when the heavens open, chaos follows. Most of the waterways are also riddled with dirt and carry with it repugnant smells. The highbrow areas like Ikoyi and Lekki are also not immune to the infrastructural neglect and decay besetting the state, simply ask anyone living in Ikoyi’s Parkview estate or in communities in the lekki/ajah axis what happens when the rains come.

As a citizenry, we need to do more by demanding greater attention for our bad infrastructure in Lagos because if we don’t we will all continue to suffer. No society can grow on the back of poor infrastructure. Calling Lagos a ’MEGACITY’ over and over would not magically erase or validate the daily struggles we face on its dilapidated roads and the tussles of wading through mud during the rainy season, as a result of its skeletal drainage systems. On the bright side, the forthcoming election is an opportunity for us to select a candidate who is particular about fixing the infrastructural deficit in the state, so we can truly ensure that ‘Eko’ does not ‘baje’.

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