BY LAOLU OSINBAJO
Lagos, the centre of excellence! Lagosians can attest to the fact that it is truly one of the busiest places to live on earth! Can we change this? Let’s deliberate on the future of this great city all 21 million of us call home.
It is estimated that, at the rate at which Nigeria is growing, in the next 25 years, there would be over 320 million people in the country! Currently, of every 100 Nigerians, seven reside in Lagos, a city that generates over 25% of Nigeria’s GDP (which is great). However, in the next 25 years, Lagos is estimated to have over 29 million people. Let that sink in.
Ideally, one million people should live in a land area of 100 km2 if they live in New York–style apartment buildings. By that logic, for the 1,171 km2 land area in Lagos, a total of 17 million people ought to reside in the state today. This is still not ideal, due to the fact that Lagos, unlike New York, doesn’t have many apartment style buildings. So, with a current population of 21 million people and an expected growth to 29 million people, how will Lagos cope with this load?
With 21 million residents, Lagos is already the most congested city in Nigeria, infamously known for its terrible traffic jams on several major roads, including the spectacular 3rd Mainland bridge. Surprisingly, there are just over 11 million cars in Nigeria today. According to Michael Olapade, a Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), aquarter of this number, that is roughly around 2.7 million vehicles, are in Lagos alone. Sadly, he also mentioned that the number of deaths recorded daily through road accidents, is more than that caused by HIV/AIDS (This report was obtained from www.thenewsnigeria.com.ng
So, 2.7 million vehicles are responsible for “Lagos traffic” today. Imagine what this figure will be like in 25 years when the population has grown by over 8 million people? Consider the environmental hazards, such as a significant increase in CO2 emissions from cars. This will contribute to global warming and has potential health risks for you as a resident in Lagos. Remember our great city is currently struggling in terms of its doctor to patient ratio. Lagosians, how are we going to thrive in this future metropolis?
Governor Ambode’s great and laudable efforts must be commended. The mass transit schemes, major road constructions and the new light rail service. But it is probably in his investment in technology, innovation and the Lagos youth techpreneurs that the answer lies. How?
Technology; for better or worse, constantly disrupts how we live our lives. Little wonder that some among us resist the positive effects that tech has on our society. Nonetheless, today you can perform most of your transactions and daily tasks with your phone or tablet. Fact!
Instead you wake up at 4am to leave your house on the mainland at 5am, so you can beat traffic and hopefully get to work in V.I at 8:30am. You close from work at 6pm and spend 3 hours in traffic going back home. You get home exhausted and try to spend sometime with your family, before having to sleep, shower and repeat. Now most of us get to work in the morning and do nothing until about 10:30am, some people actually sleep at work for an hour before they commence their duties at work. This is ineffective.
If you can work from home, do that instead. Perhaps we should explore a system that takes into consideration the uniqueness of our challenges in Lagos. Then a solution that would benefit Lagos’ economy and its residents. So large businesses would have to conduct internal reviews and allow staff who aren’t physically needed in the building on a day-to-day to work from home through their laptops and phones. This will free up the roads for people who actually need to physically be present in order for their jobs to be executed. Those who work in catering services, fashion, enterprising artisans, policemen, factory workers, emergency workers and first responders etc.
Secondly, we ought to situate co-working hubs in strategic locations within the city, to divert traffic away from major connecting routes and give people the chance to still go out and work for their various companies. This co-working culture would also promote greater collaboration and innovation within our city.
These solutions will undoubtedly put us on the path to healthier, happier and more productive lives.
When edX, an online education platform created by Harvard and MIT launched their first course, 155,000 students from 162 countries enrolled, this is more than the total number of alumni in MIT’s 150-year history as a school. 7,200 students passed the course and were graduated. In order for a lecturer in MIT or Harvard to graduate 7,200 students, he would have to teach for 40 years at 2 semesters a year! Through the edX online platform 7,200 students were graduated in less than 10 weeks!
Imagine what an online workplace culture can do for a great city like Lagos? It has the power to transform and truly prepare and equip Lagosians for the future. If we don’t start implementing these solutions today, a few years from now, most Lagosians would be unable to get to their place of work.
In order for this to be a reality in Lagos, undoubtedly a lot of work must be done by both the private sector and the Government. Creation of the relevant policies, credibility in ensuring the sanctity of transactions and business operations, matching our citizens’ talents to possible opportunities, better healthcare systems for our growing populace, social innovation and much more.
Therefore, I suggest a Research and Development team is commissioned by the State Government, comprising of both private and public sector individuals who will sit down and brainstorm on the practical ways to phase this necessary change into Lagos’ culture. Sign me up!
If all of us are willing to embrace this opportunity and step outside the box to make Lagos a better place for ourselves and our children, we will undoubtedly meet on our path, more solutions to progress.
Itesiwaju Eko lo je wa logun. God bless Lagos State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.