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..
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF LAMATA
Recognizing the need to improve the transport sector in Lagos state, a number of studies were conducted in the 90’s to define appropriate solutions. The Lagos Mass Transit and Transport Systems (LMTS) Management Program study was undertaken in 1992. This work set out to identify actions necessary to address the complex transport situation in Lagos. The study had as one of its major recommendations, the creation of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) to coordinate transport policies, programmes and actions of all agencies at different tiers of government.The detailed framework for establishment of LAMATA followed LMTS in 1996. The detailed framework considered functions and responsibilities of existing Lagos State Government transport-related ministries\departments\agencies, and in this context, proposed LAMATA’s role including its core functions, organizational structure, resource requirements and relationship with stakeholders. LAMATA is envisioned to provide a strategic planning platform to address long neglected transport needs of the metropolis and coordinate activities of the different executing agencies to provide a common and consistent basis for implementation.
LAMATA was established as a semi-autonomous corporate body with perpetual succession and an independent board responsible for formulation, coordination and implementation of urban transport policies and programmes in the Lagos metropolitan area. It was created by a State Act (LAMATA Law) signed into law on January 13, 2002 by the then Governor of the State, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Authority has the overall responsibility for transport planning and coordination in the Lagos metropolitan area with the primary mandate to play a lead role in carrying out transport planning, assist in transport policy formulation, coordination of major operational and investment decisions and implementation.
The law grants LAMATA several powers to facilitate the discharge of its statutory functions, including the power to levy and collect user charges in connection with the provision of its services and to collect any other tariffs, fees and road taxes as may be authorized by the Governor.
FUNCTION AND RESPONSIBILITY
The law establishing LAMATA was strengthened further in 2007 to include planning and regulatory functions across the various modes of transport. Under the amended LAMATA Act 2007, the Authority is empowered by law with responsibilities to carry out the following key functions in Lagos metropolitan area;
- Coordinate transport policies, programs and actions of all agencies
- Maintain and manage the Declared Road Network (DRN), mainly bus public transport routes of about 632km
- Plan, coordinate, manage and develop the supply of adequate and effective transportation;
- Recommend on route planning and general location of bus shelters, pedestrian ways and bridges,
- Collect and levy transport road user charges and establish a Transport Fund (TF) as a user reform financing mechanism to increase the low level of cost recovery in the transport sector, and to sustain the performance of LAMATA;
- Collect 50% of net Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) revenue (specific items) to be paid directly into the TF
- Regulate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along prioritised corridors
- Coordinate activities of the State Licensing Authority and all vehicle inspection units;
- Make policy recommendations on public transportation to the Governor, including mechanisms for implementation;
- Prepare plans for the development and management of an integrated multimode public transport system
The organisation’s successful performance of these functions will assist in poverty alleviation by increasing economic efficiency through lower transport costs and prices, and enhancement of employment and social opportunities.