Lagos, junction improvement and traffic management
A foremost vision of Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is to achieve a ‘Lagos Greater’. As part of efforts to accomplish this lofty dream, the Sanwo-Olu administration made Traffic Management and Transportation a foremost part of its T.H.E.M.E.S (acronyms for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21ST Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security) Developmental Agenda.
A major bane of public transportation in Lagos is traffic gridlock. Being a cosmopolitan city, access to a highly organized public transportation system remains one of the major challenges of Lagos residents.
Sadly, traffic gridlock has severe consequences such as economic losses arising from delays, weakened productivity, wasted energy, environmental deprivation and a diminished standard of living. Other effects are failed appointments, increased fuel expenses, decreased productivity and diverse health challenges. This, no doubt, poses a great threat to socio-economic development in the state.
A variety of strategies have been deployed by subsequent administrations in the State to deal with the perennial Lagos gridlock. In the past 20 years, the government has expanded and rehabilitated major roads across the State. Also, the BRT mass transit scheme was developed to advance and enhance public transportation. Similarly, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, was created for efficient management of traffic.
However, in-spite of these genuine interventions, recent experience has shown that much still needs to be done to effectively be on top of the traffic situation in the State. This explains why the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is evolving and implementing numerous reforms to easing traffic gridlock in the State.
An integral part of these strategies is the junction improvement initiative, which included removal of roundabouts, separation of streams of traffic through Traffic Signal Lights (TSL) and synchronisation of TSLs through intelligent traffic systems which will recognise the densities of traffic streams and give priorities accordingly.
In line with the Executive Order signed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on traffic management, 60 very critical junctions that needed such expansions were identified in order to relieve commuters of the nightmare of travelling on the roads.
This move is in fulfilment of the government’s promise to unlock traffic gridlock in the 60 trouble zones identified at the beginning of the present administration. These roundabouts no-longer meet demands of the increased population in Lagos because they have outlived their usefulness and a need for urgent remodeling to mitigate traffic gridlock.
To ensure a seamless process, men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, were mobilised to assist in freeing up traffic during the construction.
According to the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the road improvement programme was considered as one that would relieve commuters of the burden of stressful traffic situations, with the overall goal of reducing journey time and increasing productivity.
Consequently, contracts for the re-designing of some identified traffic-prone junctions were awarded. Six junctions were captured in the first phase of the programme and they have all been completed. These are Allen Junction, Lekki first and second Roundabouts, Ikotun Roundabout, Maryland Junction and Ajah roundabout.
The scope of work that was carried out at those junctions include the removal of the roundabouts, and separating the streams of traffic through adequate traffic signalization, synchronization of the traffic signal lights through intelligent traffic system to recognise traffic densities and prioritize same, increase in the capacity of the roads through lane stacking, upgrading of alternative roads and erecting of pedestrian barriers to separate pedestrian and vehicular conflicts on the roads.
With the efforts, all the roundabouts now wear a new layout, following the removal of a broad roundabout to create seamless flow of traffic. It needs to be stressed that the six junctions have been identified as, perhaps, the most vulnerable spots across the metropolis notorious for vehicular logjam.
It was not only the roundabouts that were removed at the designated spots, the government also widened the junctions with the creation of pedestrian walkways, zebra crossing, setbacks and laybys for commercial buses to carry and drop passengers. The junction perimeters were also adorned with lawns to reinforce the aesthetics of the locations.
The most important fallout of the junction improvement initiative is that it has helped in improving traffic time significantly, thereby limiting the amount of time spent and fuel consumed in traffic.
The improved road networks, coupled with increased transport investment, has resulted in changed levels of accessibility reflected through Cost-Benefit Analysis, savings in travel time, and other benefits.
These benefits are noticeable in increased catchment areas for services and facilities like shops, schools, offices, banks, and leisure activities. Access to major roads provides relative advantages consequent upon which commercial users locate to enjoy the advantages.
Modern businesses, industries, trades and general activities depend on transport and enhanced transport infrastructure. This is much so as the movement of goods and services from place to place is becoming vital and inseparable aspects of global and urban economic survival.
This explains why the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has invested rightly in the junction improvement initiative and other such well-thought-out programmes aimed at improving the movement of people and goods within the metropolis.
Good enough, in spite of its modest successes, the government is not resting on its oars. As a follow up to the junction improvement works done in the first phase of the exercise, the government is extending the initiative to other critical locations in the state.
Thus, junction improvement works are ongoing at Awolowo Way/Kodesho/Oba Akran Road, through the Underpass (by Computer Village) in Ikeja area of the State. Also, in the light of the exploding population of Ikorodu, junction improvement work has also commenced in the ancient town.
On the whole, given the complex and vital nature of public transportation in Lagos State, the Sanwo-Olu Administration has done well by improving and developing the state’s transportation system.
By the time the Lagos light rail project becomes effective and expanded, coupled with renewed efforts to improve water transportation in addition to numerous on-going road projects across the State, a more effective and reliable public transportation system will emerge.
Lagosians, however, need to cooperate with the government to make this prospect a reality by protecting public infrastructure as well as obeying traffic laws.
Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Information and strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.