Lagos is considered the sixth largest city and one of the most rapidly urbanizing metropolitan areas of the world. With a population that is variously estimated at between 15 and 18 million and an annual growth rate of nearly 6%, it is also one of the world’s mega cities. Geographically, the metropolitan area of Lagos is also fast spreading, now extending beyond the borders of Lagos State into the neighbouring Ogun state in the north. Commuter trips are therefore growing both in length and number.
This rapid urbanisation, combined with inadequate or poorly executed development plans, has given rise to numerous transportation problems in Lagos metropolis. These include increasing traffic congestion, worsening state of roads disrepair, deteriorating physical attractiveness and comfort of road-based public transport, high transport fares, absence of effective rail and water mass transit system, rising levels of road accidents and increasing rates of traffic-related emission and atmospheric pollution.
These public transportation challenges, which are directly associated with the sprawling urban growth of Lagos are further aggravated by its status as the nation’s economic and industrial hub. Most of Nigeria’s manufacturing outfits are concentrated in Lagos with over 45% of the nation’s skilled manpower resident in the city. In addition, the city remains Nigeria’s gateway, housing the nation’s principal commercial sea and airports.
The foremost status of Lagos as the nation’s former capital city has pressurised existing (inadequate) infrastructure to breaking point. The growing weakness in the physical and social infrastructure needed to support the burgeoning population and productive sectors have resulted in a decline in efficiency and productivity levels. For example, as far back as 1985, production costs in Lagos increased by 30%, to offset the inefficiencies of public sector infrastructure and services, including transportation. The movement of the federal capital to Abuja has not helped matters as it has resulted in Lagos State Government losing some good sources of revenue for public services.
The transportation inadequacies are further impoverishing the poor in urban Lagos as expenditure on transportation is about 20% of the household budget, second only to expenditure on food.