The Lagos Tour: How easy is it to walk around Lagos?

(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.


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Nkemka Uche is a photographer and music curator based in Lagos.


Read the previous edition of The Lagos Tour: The Lagos Tour – First Stop Surulere

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2 Responses to “The Lagos Tour: How easy is it to walk around Lagos?”

  1. yacoob abiodun (urban planner)

    This oversight by the Local Governments of the areas mentioned shows that they are not putting up their thinking caps. They need the services of urban planners to do the thinking for them with the right solution. Until we change our warp thinking about how cities are administered, planned and managed, our cities will remain unfriendly to their users. The issue of providing on-street paid parking in Lagos in some locations where justified is LONG OVER DUE! Your article is just a reinforcement of that school of thought. The local governments are saturated with arm-chair/dead brain officials who know next-to-nothing about urban governance/management, but found themselves in that position because of godfatherism. They cry of under-funding; yet they have goldmines in their domains where they can make money and cannot exploit the sources.
    yacoob abiodun
    City of Hayward
    CA, USA.

    • Bayo

      I think majority of local governments officials and a large proportion of the public are extremely out of touch with the concept of Urban planning. No one seems to be taking a step back to observe the situation that has given rise to the erratic use of public space. The inhabitants of Lagos needs a reorientation of how the city can be best maximized to enhance the quality of life of everyone. In the absence of sufficient hard infrastructure (affordable housing, good transport, etc) , abundant soft infrastructure (information, education, public engagement) can be easily provided to sensitize the public on the importance of the role of planning in a city. The Town Planning association should (if they already haven’t) engage corporate organizations and other public institutions in progressive discussions on how to enhance livability in the city. As to navigating the city as a pedestrian, I bet many residents would agree it isn’t quite a task. This is Lagos!


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