Lagos City is Africa’s most populous City and the economic capital of Nigeria, with a bustling economy , economic watchers placed the city as the 4th biggest economy in Africa. Bigger than most African countries get a city. One major problem is transportation. A sector that has proven to be the Achilles heel of many administrations that were in charge of this massive city and concrete jungle.
Getting transportation right is getting Lagos right. Unlike most resilient and modern cities in the world, Lagos seems not to boost of efficient and effective rail network apart from the old locomotive which has not been working for decades until the administration of Goodluck Jonathan fixed it by strategic partnership with the Chinese. Since he left office ,it is alleged that no other new fleet has been added to the already commissioned ones as we see.
Over crowding and high population density has been one major problem of the city, a city that attracts all tribes, railway has been said to be a major model to decongest the city. People can live in adjoining cities of Ibadan, Ota, Abeokuta, Sagamu etc and work in Lagos. This is only possible when an efficient transportation and railway is in place. As it stands today, it will be suicidal to live in these cities and work in Lagos.
This is evident of the way Lagosians are still boarding trains. With over crowding inside the coaches and poorly built stations and dear of decent coaches with WiFi. Rail transportation has been relegated or shifted as a responsibility of the Federal Government. We all know that Abuja is pretty far from Lagos and the federal government is pretty busy with other pressing issues than to worry themselves with coaches. It’s high time the state and private sector come in .
A sort of Public Private Partnership arrangement should be out in place. This would ensure that the rails are efficiently managed and made profitable. As it stands now, Nigerians can’t say how much the Nigeria railways authority made last year and what are the numbers of passengers that uses their facilities. These information should be made available ,but as Government run business, they don’t own stakeholders and shareholders that explanation apart from minister of transport as it is.
As it stands today, most Nigerians are willing to park their cars for the rails, but due to the nature of the trains and lack of decent coaches and overcrowding. Sane Nigeria will prefer the wheels than the rails . A look at the rail plying Ikeja Oshodi ,you will see a lot of people hanging on top of the trains (a risky venture which has killed so many ) in bid to make it to Lagos. Will federal government work with state government on the issue of coaches and it’s management? Time will tell, but , as we wait, let the boys keep hanging to make it to city of Lagos
Tony Emeka Nwosu