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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Megacity Lagos grapples with city planning dilemmas

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Lagos has a well-deserved status for visitors chaos. The fixed honking of automobile horns is the anthem of the megacity; the greater than 20 million residents of Africa’s largest metropolis are used to spending hours on daily basis entombed in gridlock as they grind alongside highways whose builders may by no means have imagined the quantity of visitors they’d in the future deal with.

It got here as a second for aid, due to this fact, when the town’s new ‘Blue Line’ mild rail route lastly opened final 12 months. After a planning and development course of stretching again over twenty years, the primary practice on the Chinese language-built undertaking pulled out of the brand new Lagos Marina station on the western shore of Lagos Island close to the town centre on 4 September.

The Blue Line gives commuters a clean and trendy journey. The brand new trains are air-conditioned. WiFi is out there. Tv screens present music and soccer movies. Guards from the Lagos Neighbourhood Security Corps present safety.

The practice runs alongside a raised observe that hugs the shoreline of Lagos Island, then descends to run alongside the central reservation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway after reaching the mainland. A journey between Marina and Mile 2 takes round 25 minutes. The identical journey in a automobile, if tried at rush hour, may simply take greater than twice as lengthy.

Whereas some criticisms might be product of the Blue Line – little try has been made on the stations to supply automobile parking or connections to different types of public transport – the true downside for Lagos is that there’s a restrict to how a lot distinction a single mild rail undertaking could make. The town desperately wants many extra initiatives of this nature whether it is to deal with its projected inhabitants enhance within the years forward.

House and time

Sadly, constructing mass transit initiatives requires a commodity that’s in brief provide in Lagos: house. The town’s inhabitants explosion has been accompanied by a scramble to plant homes on any obtainable land – and the thousands and thousands of Lagosians now residing in unplanned suburbs can not simply be moved.

The truth that Lagos has grown in a largely advert hoc method presents “a really huge problem”, says Lookman Oshodi, undertaking director at Lagos-based consultancy Arctic Infrastructure. Managing any facet of the transport system is harder in an unplanned metropolis, he says, noting that the dearth of planning has given rise to varied “unsustainable transportation practices”.

Numerous plans have been drawn up over the course of the previous couple of years on the federal, state and native authorities ranges, protecting a number of facets of city planning. A ‘masterplan’ for city transport in Lagos was in reality printed in 2002 by none apart from President Bola Tinubu, throughout his time as governor of the state. Turning plans into motion isn’t any straightforward job, nevertheless.

“One factor is to organize the plan, one other factor is the extent of implementation,” says Oshodi. He factors to a scarcity of cohesiveness in bringing the assorted plans collectively. “Implementation continues to be not the place it ought to be. It’s simply not there but.”

The shortage of efficient planning is mirrored in Lagos’ undesirable place within the Economist Intelligence Unit’s metropolis liveability index. Out of 173 main cities globally, Lagos is ranked because the fourth-least ‘habitable’, beating solely Damascus, Tripoli and Algiers.

“It’s troublesome to be optimistic,” says Tayo Awomosu, chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of City Planners. He echoes Oshodi in arguing that the failure of the authorities to stop unchecked residential improvement is on the coronary heart of the town’s challenges. “The federal government doesn’t have the wherewithal to be in all places on the similar time. They’re overwhelmed.”

Awomosu provides that the federal government’s refusal to be extra interventionist within the housing market is a key downside. No government-built social housing has been constructed since 1983, he says, that means that the city poor have little alternative however to strive erect makeshift dwellings within the absence of reasonably priced housing provided by the non-public sector.

“I believe that authorities intervention within the housing market could be very important,” says Awomosu. Together with extra social housing, he argues that substandard models should be rebuilt, the mortgage market must be reformed, whereas authorities want to advertise extra high-rise developments in order that house can be utilized extra effectively.

Arduous and tender infrastructure

The opening of the primary section of the Blue Line is among the first actual indicators that progress is being made in the direction of realising the imaginative and prescient that Tinubu drew up greater than 20 years in the past, of a metropolis criss-crossed by a number of rail strains.

The Blue Line will ultimately be prolonged to serve one other eight stations, on high of the 5 included within the first section. One other route, to be often called the Pink Line, is slated to open this 12 months and can take commuters from Marina to the northern suburb of Agbado. The timetable for opening the Inexperienced, Purple, Yellow and Orange strains stays unclear.

Incremental enhancements to bus and ferry transport are additionally being made. However, with the town’s inhabitants already surpassing 20 million and persevering with to rise, the challenges of city planning will solely proceed to develop.

These challenges can’t be met just by constructing an increasing number of ‘arduous’ infrastructure. “We additionally ought to be non-motorised transportation in Lagos,” says Yinka Jones, programme supervisor on the non-profit Lagos City Improvement Initiative. Higher city design can encourage strolling and biking, he says, serving to to alleviate strain on the roads.

Jones says that LUDI has put ahead a proposal for a ‘linear park’, which might provide long-distance strolling and cycle paths across the metropolis’s remaining wetlands to assist enhance connectivity. To this point, nevertheless, the response from the authorities has been non-committal, he laments.

The wetlands, certainly, function a key piece of ‘infrastructure’ that would play a key function in mitigating the consequences of local weather change on Lagos. Many of the metropolis sits precariously on land that’s more and more susceptible to each riverine flooding and rising sea ranges. As a pure drainage mechanism, wetlands are important to assist fight flood dangers, but huge tracts have already given technique to unchecked city sprawl.

“To be resilient, we have to protect the wetlands,” says Awomosu. “They’re truly there to take water when the water degree rises, however we hold growing them and encroaching on them.”

The collective advantages of preserving wetlands present one other instance of how the town wants to seek out higher methods to make use of its house. With a greater method to planning, it’s potential that ‘liveability’ can lastly begin to enhance. In any case, as Awomosu says, “the options are usually not rocket science”.



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