With a teeming population of about 17 million people, Lagos city is unarguably the economic hub of Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy. It’s a vibrant city where dreams literally come alive. The exciting opportunities the city provides are major source of attraction to individuals, organizations and even foreign investment.
Traffic congestion is a thief of time
Overtime, the influx of people to Lagos has led to an increase in mobility across the metropolis with the resultant rise in traffic congestion. The average annual daily traffic in Lagos is about 160,000 – a very high volume compared to other busy cities in the world. Journeys that normally take thirty minutes can easily run into two hours on a good day (rather, a bad day in this case!). Driving across the city is becoming an everyday nightmare for businesses and working population.
Apart from the loss of time and heavy delays in daily commute, traffic congestion has significant negative environmental, economic and social impact. From high carbon emissions, to psychological pain to strain on weakening roads and bridges, the pains of the traffic problem is becoming increasingly unbearable. There is the urgent need for the implementation of smart solutions to address this.
A modern challenge
Traffic congestion is not a problem peculiar to Lagos or Nigerian cities. Developed cities around the world, such as London, New York and Paris have their share of traffic pain. Globally, traffic congestion is an economic menace, that’s why a couple of modern practices are being adopted to minimize its negative impact.
For example, in Paris, in order to cut down pollution due to high traffic, the state introduced an alternate odd-even number plate system to determine what vehicles should be out on the road. While in New York there are dedicated lanes for high-occupancy vehicles. London city has congestion charges for vehicles driving through its congestion zone, in a bid to discourage private driving.
Unsurprisingly, a major cause of traffic congestion in Lagos is high volume of single-occupancy vehicle. There are too many empty car seats on our roads; about 70% of vehicles are single occupancy. Next time you are caught in traffic, just take a look around. A solution that discourages single occupancy vehicle is a good place to start in reducing the congestion in Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria such as Port Harcourt, Abuja and Onitsha.
The new smart
Paradoxically, the solution to Lagos traffic challenge is within the problem itself. Wonder what that means?
Enter ride sharing in Nigeria.
Ride sharing encourages high occupancy vehicles, hence helping to significantly reduce the number of cars on our roads. It enables friends, colleagues and neighbours that have similar commute patterns to journey together in the same vehicle rather than each one driving their respective cars.
For example, instead of four friends driving solo in their respective cars from Ajah to the same work destination at Surulere, they could all ride together in one car. This keeps three cars off the road and helps reduce traffic congestion. Now, imagine the multiplier effect of that, if every group of friends, colleagues or neighbours are involved in a ride sharing scheme. What a difference that will make?
Social ride sharing is a smarter way to beat traffic congestion in Lagos, rather than leaving home for work as early as 4:30am or staying so late after work and missing out on precious family time, just because we are waiting for the traffic to subside. When enabled by internet technology, arranging ride sharing can become more effective and safe.
Ride sharing can help
An example is the Nigerian internet site, Ridebliss.com. The web portal makes ride sharing with friends and colleagues easier and fun to participate in. It’s an online community where verified members can post their ride journeys for other members to book and share ride with. This makes it safer and modern to implement ride sharing scheme. A platform such as this helps to build trust, which is a common concern with internet services.
Some of the benefits of ride sharing are faster journeys, ease of use, safety, lesser carbon emission, less contention for parking spaces and an enhanced community spirit.
Aware of the advantages of ride sharing, city administrators around Europe and America have given their support for the scheme. For instance, high occupancy vehicles have priority access to dedicated lanes and roads. Some countries provide government funds for the scheme as well as monetary and non-monetary incentives to participants.
It would be beneficial if individuals and the state in Nigeria take a cue from that. For a start, private vehicles in Lagos city with high occupancy should be allowed to drive on its BRT (bus rapid transit) lanes.
Overall, ride sharing could appreciably reduce our daily travel time and also make driving to work more fun. Considering the positive benefits of ride sharing, we all need to embrace it in order to minimize the pains associated with our daily commute in Lagos.
While Lagos state is committed to improving transportation infrastructures in the long term, ride sharing provides some quick wins and also offers us the opportunity to make personal contributions towards reducing traffic congestion. We may not be able to solve vehicle traffic problem overnight, however, adopting smart solutions today will go a long way tomorrow. Go offer a friend a ride today!