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Lagos: Time to improve on the livability index

Lagos: Time to improve on the livability index
January 25
09:53 2022

BY GBENGA ONABANJO

The news making the rounds on social media about the acquisition of the fast trains from Milwaukee, United States of America by Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the Lagos Redline Mass Transit is most heartwarming. It shows the sincerity of the Sanwo-Olu administration in walking the talk and keeping the promises he made to the electorate. I believe this will go a long way to building trust and belief in the government.

Previous administrations that made such promises reneged. The disturbing aspect is not their failure to keep their promises but the culture of silence that followed. The discourse today is not about the promises kept but the perception of the world on the quality and standard of living in Lagos.

The livability index ranks cities based on more than 30 qualitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
In the last quarter of 2021, Lagos was ranked as the second-worst city to live in in the world. It was ranked 139 out of 140 by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU).

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According to the report, Lagos is only next to Damascus, Syria, as the worst city to live in the world! The protracted war in Damascus could offer an explanation for its un-livability and the non-observance of the rule of law. But how do we explain the situation of Lagos? Even Tripoli, Libya, ranks higher than Lagos! There must be something patently wrong with Lagos to have earned such a status.

The aftermath of the #EndSARS crisis may have contributed to the breakdown of law and order. This must not however be allowed to fester for too long as it will become injurious to the economy because of the reduction in the foreign direct investment flow into the state.

Curiously, a first-time visitor to Lagos through the Murtala Mohammed Airport may have his heart in his mouth and will be filled with fear and trepidations with this information about Lagos. Such a visitor is first inundated with unsolicited felicitations from the moment he disembarks from the plane and all the way through the passport control and the baggage pick-up areas.

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Transportation is one of the indices under infrastructure in the livability index, but this is not a strong point at the Murtala Mohammed Airport. It is extremely difficult for a first-timer at the airport to navigate his way from the airport to his destination without any form of assistance.

The signage at the airport is not adequate. There is no organised airport shuttle, train shuttle, or car rentals as expected in an international airport of such magnitude. Moving luggage to the car park or passenger pick-up location is so hazardous and inconveniencing, with the distance and state of the road surface offering serious resistance to the movement of the trolleys.

The visitor leaves the airport and is pleasantly surprised at the long, well-paved, and beautifully-lined multi-lane driveway with street lights and various trees adorning the stretch of the road leading to the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. His first concern driving through this beautiful highway is the sight of pedestrians scampering across the highway at various points, squeezing themselves through the spaces between the concrete median and the streetlight poles. Meanwhile, the well-constructed pedestrian bridges suitably located at convenient points along the highway are empty.

This bitter-sweet experience is further heightened as he gets onto the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. This rigidly paved concrete highway has unmarked lanes. Commercial (yellow) buses are lined up, taking one lane out of the three lanes of the highway as a passenger pick-up point, while an iconic bus mega station is located less than 250 metres away.

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As he goes past the iconic bus mega station that is all dusty and begging for maintenance, he sees heaps of silt dug up from the drain between the three-lane highway and two-lane service route, reducing the road carriage on the highway to two lanes. Worse still, slow-moving and articulated vehicles are driving at the outermost left lane of the highway, while fast-moving vehicles struggle to meander through.

Short ladders are seen placed against the 1.5-metre high concrete median to allow pedestrians to cross the expressway, while the pedestrian bridges are empty. The most absurd and potentially suicidal scene is the way motorcyclists, and sometimes cars, face on-coming traffic, driving one way! This is the height of lawlessness and impunity.

However horrible the experience of a first-timer is, I do not think it justifies the ranking of Lagos as the second-worst city in the world to live in.

This discourse will continue in subsequent articles as I look into other factors under culture and environment, infrastructure, security, healthcare, and education.

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Onabanjo is the founder of GO-FORTE Foundation

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