Lagos: A city struggling with house numbering
In June 2012, the Lagos State government began the process of numbering about 1.2 million buildings in the state.
While flagging off the exercise, a former managing director of Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), Mr. George Noah, said the comprehensive house numbering project was expected to number about 1,194, 525 houses.
Kick-starting the project at Akerele Street in Surulere area of the State, Noah said the exercise was aimed at making businesses and residential buildings easily identifiable.
The scheme, he added, was also designed to provide a more secure environment within the state and increase the quality of life of all citizens, just as he stressed that every house and office would be numbered as long as they are statutorily recognised by the state.
Noah stressed that the numbering of houses and offices was essential in ensuring that businesses and homes were easily assessed.
Unfortunately, seven years on, tens of thousands of houses, both residential and business structures in the state, are still without numbers. Despite the rapid development taking place in parts of the state, visitors and residents run into trouble trying to locate houses on some streets.
In some locations where buildings are numbered, it is haphazardly done, such that visitors always have to put calls across to their hosts to ask for landmarks that would aid their safe arrival at the actual structure. In some cases, the host would have the unpleasant task of going out to shepherd in his guests.
Incidentally, developed areas are also affected by this ugly situation; areas that are worst hit are those where massive unplanned development is taking place or those that are still largely rural in disposition.
For instance, there are settlements in Ikotun in Ikotun/Igando LCDA; Alasia in Oshodi; Ogba, Agege, Epe, Ikorodu, and Isale Eko, among others, that are suffering this menace.
Many residents said the situation makes the state look unorganised, especially in the light of claims by the state government that it has attained a mega-city status.
According to Kamoru Isiaka, an advert executive, one cannot rule out shanties or ancestral settlements in any country because they existed before development started spreading to different parts of the state.
He charged concerned authorities to renew efforts at numbering each building in the state to ease identification and movement.
Isiaka added that residents of unnumbered or poorly numbered streets were also put at a disadvantage and even imperiled whenever they were expecting mails from public post offices or private courier services.
He urged local council authorities to see to the correction of this anomaly, a development he said would contribute to uplifting the status of the state.
Alloy Nwadike, a businessman revealed how he lost a contract while still a start-up because his business partner, on a visit, discovered that his business place had no identification number, raising some interesting issues.
Sharing her experience, Folashade Aderemi said she visited a friend that just relocated to an area where house numbering is haphazard. And after roaming about unsuccessfully and trying to reach the friend on phone without success, she made a U-turn and headed back home.
According to her, such settlements constitute not only an eyesore but are setbacks to developmental efforts hence should be urgently addressed.
She said: “Lagos has grown beyond village level, so buildings should be numbered appropriately and settlement patterns should reflect this as well.”
Assuring residents that all properties in the state would be adequately numbered for easy identification and movement, Head, Corporate Affairs and Public Relation of LASAA, Temitope Akande, said all the necessary items for carrying out the project were provided by the former governor of the state, Babatunde Fashola, but the project could not be completed when the governor left office. He disclosed that Governor Ambode had a different view of the state and house numbering, adding that he was focused on other developmental projects and as such had to put the completion of the numbering project on hold.
Akande expressed hope that the new administration will resuscitate the project and complete it, disclosing that his agency knew where they stopped and whenever the government was ready, they would pick up from there.
On clustered or ancestral settlements, he noted that the agency was aware of such areas and that modalities had been put in place to number all properties in the state no matter where it is located or the form in which it may appear. He stressed that all properties in the state have to be numbered for identification and developmental purposes.