(Article republished from Future Lagos).
Lookman Oshodi is the Project Director of Arctic Infrastructure, a private organisation with a broad focus on infrastructure delivery, urban development and the environment. He has worked within the urban planning field, having created alternative plans and development strategies in low-income communities. When Future Lagos met up with him recently he gave us his perspective on Lagos now and in the future.
Future Lagos: What is your perception and view of Lagos as it is now?
Lookman Oshodi: Lagos is on the march to become an African model mega city. As part of the efforts to realize the vision, the State Government is undertaking various infrastructural development and renewal projects. Unfortunately, the vision is yet to be well articulated and inadequately shared among stakeholders, the policy makers, local government administrations, professionals and most importantly, the residents. The vision still remains among selected individuals at the political level. Therefore, when a city lacks vision or the vision is not properly shared among the stakeholders, development will move at a snail’s pace compared to the overall needs of the city.
FL: What city challenges does Lagos face?
LO: Some of the challenges being faced by Lagos are: the local government’s lack of true citizen participation; restricted access to land; lack of a cohesive template to administer and manage the city in a sustainable manner; inadequate social and economic infrastructure to meet the needs of residents; and lack of robust, and engaging policies to address migrant inflow into the city.
FL: What are the city’s main strengths?
LO: Lagos is a city with enormous opportunities and potential. Some of its key strengths are: its strategic location as the economic hub of West Africa; a large and diverse population; global recognition as a mega city; extensive beachfronts, water bodies and port facilities; home to some of the richest individuals in Africa; unique and marketable culture and tourism opportunities; and great economic potential.
FL: What will Lagos look and feel like in 2020?
LO: With the emergence of projects such as Eko Atlantic City, the Cable Car, Light Rail and others, there will be improvement in the city’s outlook and greater mobility by 2020. However, the city needs to take the lead in regional integration and improve access to adequate housing for its residents. If this is not taken into account, the new infrastructure in the city will continue to attract migrants from other parts of the country and West Africa which will recycle the trend of inadequate infrastructure and create an urban form in the shape of a modern Babylon Tower in the midst of visually polluted informal sprawl.
Olamide Udoma is an urban activist, researcher, writer, artist and film maker. She is currently involved in governance issues within the urban environment of Lagos and is an advocate for sustainable transportation and social engagement within street spaces. Follow Future Lagos on twitter.