(Article first published by FutureLagos)
Lagos is dealing with rapid urbanization, which has increased our demand for parking. However, nobody seems to be concerned that cars are parked on sidewalks without penalty while pedestrians are forced to walk on the road. Perhaps this has to do with the Nigerian mentality that owning a car is a metric for success. In my opinion this mentality hinders transit and pedestrian infrastructure development in Lagos especially when you consider decision makers neither walk nor take the bus (Danfo or BRT). Instead the city seems more concerned with keeping up appearances by frequently painting curbstones black and white instead of creating a seamless pedestrian network that is consistent and safe. The success of the city’s ongoing cable car and light rail projects depend on their accessibility to pedestrians. It only makes sense that parking and pedestrian issues be addressed accordingly.
Also, the government is missing out from revenue that could be derived from regulated street parking and/or public parking lots. As a result the informal economy benefits from our parking issue. Take Adeola Odeku Street in Victoria Island for example: In the daytime customers park in front of the commercial business they visit such as banks for free. However, on Friday and Saturday nights “street guys” patrol the same Adeola Odeku Street, blocking parking spaces of closed businesses and offering them at a fee to customers of neighbouring restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs with inadequate parking spaces. “Street guys” also ask/beg/charge (whatever you want to call it) for parking on elevated road dividers.
There is clearly a demand for parking on Adeola Odeku on weekend nights but why should people who do not supply parking infrastructure benefit instead of the government or businesses who do? If regulated, these same “street guys” could be formally employed to enforce parking, which would be a win-win.
Nkemka Uche is a photographer and music curator based in Lagos.
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