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Lagos traffic and light rail transportation

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Lagos metropolis the center of excellence! Indeed Lagos State is an excellent city with lots of excellent attractions. But truth be told, there can be no candid discussion about Lagos State, without mentioning one subject: Traffic. Lagos State has a fair share of good roads, so driving around designated areas in Lagos to a large extent is enjoyable. Sadly the amount of traffic within Lagos, leading to a constant jaw breaking traffic congestion is a concern to all and sundry. It is no news that “Lagosians” in order to get to their desired destination on time, regularly set out as early as 4:00 a.m. on a sometimes less than thirty or forty-minute drive to avoid being caught up in mind-blowing traffic en route to their destination and rarely return until past midnight for the same reason.

Some “Lagosians”, claim to have mastered the art of avoiding traffic by staying off the road at designated times, when traffic is at its the peak, such as early mornings and early evenings on weekdays (known colloquially as rush hour) and a day after a public holiday, ETC. Unfortunately, even these kinds of selective driving cannot be completely relied on because the traffic in Lagos, seems to regularly spring out from nowhere for no apparent reason at times and in places where traffic is least expected. Thus, no amount of careful planning can guarantee not getting caught up in the infamous Lagos traffic jam.

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What really are the causes of traffic congestion in Lagos Metropolis? Various factors can be held responsible, these factors include bad roads, too narrow roads, lack of adequate traffic lights, accidents on the road, especially in recent times involving heavy-duty vehicles on the road and too many vehicles on the road at the same time. As is well known, Nigeria is a car-loving country and this love of automobiles is amplified in Lagos with it’s exploding population resulting in increasing road congestion. To compound the above factors, the poor attitude of drivers has turned the situation from bad to worse, as they have little or no respect for traffic rules. It is not uncommon for drivers in Lagos to have a complete disregard for traffic rules and regulations. The overriding consideration by these drivers appears is to take any available route that will get them to their destination fastest, irrespective of the legality or risk. Indeed to see drivers plowing their cars against traffic flow is a regular occurrence. These and many other factors have made traffic congestion the stuff of nightmares on Lagos roads.

Government and private bodies have introduced countless road traffic measures to ease traffic congestion in Lagos State, but still, the problem seems to defy long-lasting solutions. An alternative source of mass transit, like the introduction of light rail system, should be taken seriously by the government as a more plausible permanent solution to the problem of traffic congestion in Lagos. A light rail mass transit (LRT) is also known as a fast tram. It is a passenger train powered by overhead electrical wires, which runs on electricity. The wire system is known as an overhead catenary system although the (LRT) is smaller than the regular train; it operates at a very high speed, has an equally high capacity and is extremely efficient. This form of transportation is able to accelerate and decelerate very quickly, making it possible to make regular stops. LRT usually has an exclusive right of way, which is often separated from the automobile way. It is also able to operate along crowded and narrow streets. As a matter of fact, the introduction of light rail mass transits, just like other forms of convenient public transportation can considerably reduce the number of cars on the road leading to more regular ease of traffic flow. A good example of a public transportation system is the introduction of the B.R.T Buses in Lagos State. They are comfortable, safe, and cheap and have been maintained on a fair standard over the years. Most Lagosian prefers to take the B.R.T Buses than their private cars. However, B.R.T still has a long way to go to Lagos state.

It is actually possible that the proper introduction and maintenance of the LRT in Lagos will reduce considerably, the amount of traffic on the road at any given time, thereby reducing drastically the constant traffic congestion on the roads because they are very convenient and comfortable to travel on. Since they are cheaper than regular commercial buses, taxis or driving a private car, people naturally would prefer to travel in them. They are also faster than other forms of road transportation. This would be a welcome relief to those with cars as they would also prefer this system of transportation because maintaining a car on Lagos roads, due to poor condition is extremely expensive. Therefore, the LRT will provide a viable option of transit in a busy city like Lagos without the need to overwhelm the roads with private cars.

As mentioned previously LRT has an exclusive right of way hence the issue of traffic congestion is completely ruled out. Since it’s six times faster than the automobile or regular commercial bus, passengers would reach their destination and back in little or no time. With a good tram network, LRT can, as a matter of fact, reach the most remote parts of the states. Additionally, the LRT is a safer mode of transport as the problem of accidents or head-on collision with resulting roadblocks leading to traffic congestion is completely ruled out.

One very important fact about the LRT is that it is ecofriendly. It keeps our environment clean by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because it is completely powered by electricity. Since the use of LRT would ultimately reduce the number of road trips by private and commercial vehicles that contribute to high emissions of greenhousegases we can all look forward to a cleaner and greener Lagos State. Although the LRT has a high maintenance cost and oftentimes, tax payer’s money is used as a subsidy. If the LRT is properly built and maintained, on a good tram network, that covers the state from one end to the other. People would reach their destination faster. The advantages would clearly outweigh the cost, like traffic congestion, greenhouse pollution etc would be greatly reduced. Job opportunities would be created and this would improve the economy. In fact we all have a lot to gain with the introduction and proper maintenance of the LRT not only in Lagos state but allover Nigeria as a whole.

Amina wrote from United Estate, Olagbole, Ojodu, Berger.

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