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Megacity Traffic: Lagos, Nigeria

Traffic in Lagos, Nigeria is pretty nuts. If you live on the Mainland, it can take you 3+ hours to get to work on Lagos Island (with good weather!). A daily commute can involve numerous forms of transportation -- walking, buses, taxis, motorcycles.

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The grinding commute that many face in Lagos is a real impediment to the city's economic development.  With a population of roughly 10.5 million, Lagos is a megacity with a LOT of people to move, day in and day out.  Poor infrastructure, tricky geography, serious safety concerns (both carjackings and car accidents), and a sinking land mass make getting from A to B a frustrating endeavor.  I spent the summer in Lagos traveling back and forth from Ikoyi over the 3rd Mainlaind Bridge to Ikeja and got a taste of the commuter lifestyle... in the rainy season! 

I spoke with numerous friends and colleagues about their commute and heard some strong opinions.  Many expressed anger at the government's lack of involvement in improving the situation.  Others expressed a kind of resigned exhaustion.  Some stated that no matter how many times they make their daily commute, they still arrive at work feeling anxious and amped up.  A few mentioned the fear they have, speeding across the bridge after midnight in the hopes they'll make it home safely.  But many just accept it for what it is and feel powerless to change it.

Lagos is a booming, dynamic city with phenomenal hustle, smarts, and entrepreneurial spirit.  Yet the city's transportation infrastructure impedes foreign investment and local commercial activity.  Lagos suffers from no lack of vitality, so it's interesting to think about the city within the context of "revitalization."  But I wonder how that vitality could shine through even stronger without the psychological, physical, and social stresses created by non-stop traffic jams.


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