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Lagos traffic worsens with school reopening

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Lagos traffic

Idle trucks causing 70% of Apapa gridlock, says LG chairman
• Air pollution killed 11,000, caused $2.1bn loss in a year – World Bank

The Lagos nightmare, traffic, was on full parade in most parts of the state yesterday morning. At every major artery – Ikotun, Isolo, Okota, Ikeja Along, Iyana Ipaja, Lekki, Victoria Island, Ojota, Apapa, and Badagry, it was traffic everywhere.

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In some locations, the standstill lasted about an hour as exasperated motorists managed to stay calm wishing the clock would stop ticking.

While Mondays are peculiar, especially since businesses have returned to full swing after COVID-19 lockdown, yesterday’s statewide gridlock, some motorists say, was linked to the full reopening of primary and secondary schools.

Joseph Olaoye said: “I most parents wanted to observe the first week of schools’ reopening before allowing their wards to return. Now with the scare of COVID-19 partially over, it is a return to the old days and the schools being the last sector to be reopened has compounded this traffic.”

One Anthony Nwabuisi vented his frustration on Twitter yesterday after staying stuck at a spot for an hour between Jakande Gate and Ago roundabout in Okota.

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He said: “I am sure you won’t find this newsworthy, however, Jakande Gate leading to Ago palace way is on standstill and I have been stuck in one position for an hour plus.

“What is even painful to behold is that in all these confusion, officials of LASTMA and traffic police just stand idle. They are not controlling traffic but busy pouncing on tricycle and motorcycle operators to extort money from them.”

Speaking to newsmen yesterday, the Chairman, Apapa Local Government area, Mr Owolabi Adele, said 70 per cent of gridlock in his council area was caused by trucks.

“Seventy per cent of traffic here is caused by trucks coming here doing nothing, lining up in the streets. Some of them have nothing doing here in Apapa, but they believe that with the port where they can easily find business doing without any previous invitation.”

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Adele appealed to the law enforcement agencies in charge of traffic control to enforce traffic rules as laid down by the government.

He urged traffic officers to ensure that trucks that don’t have any business in the area must be restricted to avoid crowding the whole road.

According to him, the traffic has affected businesses and property value in Apapa, apart from posing health threats. Adele said many residents had relocated to Lekki, Surulere, and other neighbouring communities as a result of traffic challenges in the area.

MEANWHILE, residents in Lagos are paying for the city’s worsening air pollution with their lives as data from a recent World Bank study show the city’s residents are paying a very high price: the study estimates air pollution resulted in 11,200 premature deaths in 2018 alone. Children under five, who are at a higher risk of respiratory infections, are the most affected, accounting for 60 per cent of deaths in 2018.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 4.2 million deaths occur every year as a result of exposure to air pollution.

In monetary terms, the study noted that the loss of lives and productivity hours cost the city an estimated $2.1 billion or 2.1 per cent of Lagos Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Lagos is Nigeria’s largest commercial city. It is also one of the world’s fastest-growing megacities, expected to become the largest city by 2021.

Road transport, industrial emissions, and power generation were the largest contributors to air pollution in Lagos, the study found.

Lagos has limited transport options, forcing people to rely on personal vehicles, commercial cars, or state transport services, motorcycles, tricycles, and minibuses for transport.

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Commuters spend long hours in traffic congestion as a result of the poor road network, traffic management, and driving habits, as well as lack of parking space.

The level of traffic congestion influences the degree of fuel consumption. This is also compounded by the old emission systems in most vehicles in Lagos and the importation of fuel with high sulfur content (dirty fuel).
Nigeria has unstable power spanning decades, thereby compelling citizens to rely on generators to power their homes and businesses.

To deal with the challenge of air pollution in Lagos, the study called for measures to reduce emissions such as incentives for purchasing cleaner passenger vehicles, vehicle inspections, retrofitting the most polluting vehicles, implementation of best available technologies in the most polluting industries, and use of solar cells with battery storage for power generation.

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