Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Land Mass Transit Transformation for 21st Century Lagos.

Lagos, my heartthrob, initially known as a small peaceful settlement of Awori fishers and farmers inhumanely suddenly becomes an important port for slave trade on the West African Coast in the 19th century. Was this sudden turn-around a curse or blessing in disguise? For many years, it remained an island reputedly known for its viability in slave trade. Surprisingly, even after the abolishment and assumption of control as a British colony in 1861, it witnessed yet again another invasion - the consistent influx of large proportions of freed slaves from America and Sierra-Leone. Again, blessing or curse?

The influx created another increase in business activities with international commercial activities that necessitated the need for a locomotive steamer service between Lagos and England in 1853; followed by the establishment of a bank in 1881, the telephone in 1882 and a chamber of commerce in 1894. Economic activities seemed so viable in Lagos that not so long after the creation of the Chamber of Commerce, there was need for a seaport which was built and later housed a very vital terminal for Trans-Atlantic routes.

The Apapa seaport in Lagos is there till date. The established bank is in every corner of not only Lagos but Nigeria – Union Bank (then Barclays Bank), and even the locomotive steamer service du to contemporary standards, has been improved upon into faster rail services.

Through history, on a different system of thinking, the emergence of Lagos as an important commercial hub can logically be ascertained. Its antecedents are somewhat the traditions for civilization and as such continue to be a reckoned compartment for ascertaining development in Africa; and arguably, the world at large. As a result of this, there is great challenge to one of its most significant sectors - Transportation. As sighted in the introduction, the first aspect considered for development as a British colony was Transportation. There was need to have it sorted out quickly due to visions of colonial settlers which understood how positively it would help enhance business activities. With limited space given for this paper, I aim to address current phenomenon around the situation of transportation in contemporary Lagos. This would be done with a retained focus on Land Mass Transit and the Bus Rapid Transit Scheme (BRT) in particular.  Barriers and threats to the BRT, codes that can support and assure indigenous transformation in Land Mass transit would also be highlighted. In order to capture a volume of issues, there would be large use bullet points and sub-headings to reiterate conciseness of opinions. In conclusion, this paper offers perceived messiahs that could aid evolution and transformation of Land Mass Transit in Lagos.

Lagos: Centre of Excellence in Numbers and Diversity

It baffles me whenever I see the statistics. However, it helps me reinstate elation of my home and cultural heritage - a non-oil producing state and yet contributes over 40% of Nigeria’s GDP (UNCLG, 2008). What makes Lagos capable of such internally generated fiscal delivery?

Geographical Area Size – 3, 577 Sq. Kilometers (0.4% of Nigeria)

Population as of 2006 – 18 million

Annual Population Migration – 11.4% annually. (10 times of New York or Los Angeles)

Project Population 2015 – 24.5 million

9th Fastest growing city in the world

Percentage of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa – 30%

20 local councils, 37 Local council development areas

22 Industrial Estates (2,000 Industries, 65% of Country Total)

Home to the world’s second fast growing Movie Industry

Informal Sector Size: 65% of working population

One of seven Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) cities.

Aviation Activities – 83% International & 48% Domestic

Ports Revenue – 50% Nationwide

Telecoms/Media Hub – 55% nationwide housing over 29 million GSM subscribers.

Average age of dwellers  – 27 years old

2,600 Communities

210 Ethnic groups as residents.

(National Bureau of Enterprises, (BPE) 2010).

By these statistics, not only is Lagos large in numbers, the numbers translate into complexity and diversity, resulting in great opportunity for evolution, growth and expansion.

Lagos Transportation: Multi –Modal via PPP to the rescue

Prior to 1999, Lagos has with other states had suffered 25 out of 50 years under the leadership of a dictatorial governing structure that was unanswerable to anyone. Indirectly, this limited institutional continuity and lasting policies in every sector of the economy as well as its transportation sector. However in 1999, the Since post 1999, Lagos state under its present governing structure has developed commendable private sector participation (PSP), public private partnerships (PPP), build operate and transfer  (BOT), build own operate and transfer (BOOT) in not only the transportation sector but infrastructural development and service delivery. It fhas showcased the mindset and perception to public management as against traditional modes of governance. The multi-modal transportation system by the incumbent government oversees a policy thrust of providing a sustainable efficient and safely integrated mass transit system via its Land areas, Rail and Waterways.

The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) has taken off commendably with the emergence of two Bus Rapid Transit operators largely financed and operated by private stakeholders – National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW) and Lagbus Assets and Management Limited (LAGBUS). Ebonugwo (2012) says the presence of the scheme is being felt in over 50 routes of Lagos with a passenger’s traffic of 300,000 passengers per day. However, this makes me understand why a large command of informal and un-organized bus transit systems (Danfo/Molue mini buses) still dominate major corridors within the metropolis. This is strange despite the overall good condition and convenience of the BRT scheme. Lagos Island alone asides other areas of the city accommodates to an influx of over 5 million passengers to and fro its vicinity daily. If Ebonugwo (2012) data is correct, it means, the BRT scheme is yet to capture 10% of the population that goes in and out of Lagos Island daily as against a commuting populace of an average of 14 million people.

Lagos Land Mass Transit: Threats and Hindrances

Lagos has one of the largest road networks in West Africa despite popular negating and pessimistic social commentary. If not so, with it occupying just 0.4% of Nigeria’s geographical area how does it manage to accommodate presently 10% of the whole nations’ population with over 11.4% urban migration annually?  Also, according to Oni et al (2006), the ratio of private vehicle owners to non-car owners in Lagos is 1:10. Undeniably, this ratio would have risen over a six-year period with its fast growing informal state economy and consistent population growth. Yet, the state keeps meeting satisfactory public service delivery. There is no doubt Lagos has the numbers to accumulate patronage of its present Land Mass Transit System; the question is how should operators of the Bus Rapid Transit get people off informal and un-organized transit buses (Danfo/Mini Buses) into a coherent, inclusive, organized, safe and secure transit scheme?

There are three kinds of road networks in Lagos namely – expressways, arterial road and access/collector roads. Particular emphasis and dominance has been on the first two road networks, relegating the last – access/collector roads to little or no consideration. The viability of operational infrastructures used by operators of the Bus Rapid Transit Scheme seems to limit them in dominance only on the first two, thereby giving way to informal and un-organized armies in the sector. This issue is better expressed on my part given much space for discuss. It can be prophesied that the feeder service operator the Bus Rapid Transit Scheme currently allows these informal army might soon be own its case when the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) goes into full operation. It would then have to re-strategize its operations for patronage, relevance and acceptability.  It is however wise of it to seize dominance now as it also dominates the expressways and arterial roads.  Beneath are highlights of the barriers and threats to Land Mass Transit in Lagos.


Adaptability and Change Responsiveness

Under-Utilization of Information Communication and Technology

Non-Inclusive Public Engagement and Sensitization

Efficiency – (Inadequate Employees)

Private Sector Participation


Under-utilization of Traffic Congestion (Not seeing its opportunities)

Institutional Conflicts

Non-Utilization of access/collector roads


Transport Labor Unions

Communal Adherence to Change

Proposed Lagos Rail Mass Transit

Traffic Management

Health and Safety


Strategy for Development /Transformation: Complex Systems Thinking

From my introduction, it is a known fact that the determination of Africa’s development seizes proper justification without the contextualization of Lagos within such analysis. Also, with the statistics presented of Lagos being an excellent centre of numbers, complexity and great diversity, it should be without doubt that the only perpetual solution for lasting development and evolution ought to come out of what Lagos itself protrudes. No copy and paste formula, foreign solutions or huge westernized approaches without the circumstances inherent in Lagos would aid any part of its very much complex societal development- especially in terms of transportation. Identifying the weaknesses of Lagos Transportation should be where the strength and solution is drawn from. Building within its circumstances and knowing how to make them valuable is the key. The world is evolving and so is Lagos and it’s only from its changes should a solution be built from.

It is a fact that nearly half of the world now lives in urban areas; Lagos obviously is not left out. This is where lasting solution has to be drawn from, not trying to coerce or change ‘change’. For the Bus Rapid Transit Scheme to deliver the transportation needs of Lagos it has to recognize and embrace its numbers, complexity and diversity all the way and use the bottom-up approach in doing so. Adewale Ajadi in his book Omoluwabi 2.0 says it more brilliantly in two excerpts have drawn from the book:

Pg 41

“ The most neglected aspect of Africa’s dynamics is its complexity. The failure to understand, accommodate and incorporate this complexity into developing sustainable approaches to transformation and modernization has devastating consequences”

Pg 42

In Africa, where the failure to industrialize has left an open and truly complex operating environment, formalizing borrowed engineered solutions has led to complications and displacement. This has had a disruptive effect on the evolution of a more complex, relevant and effective system thinking and organization necessary for the African environment”

Three Messiahs for Land Mass Transit Development:

Transformational Leadership

Indigenous Value Creation/Branding

Contemporary Integrated Logistics


This discuss is one that is somewhat limited due to limited space given and lack of an in-depth understanding to present organizational considerations and mode of operations within the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit Scheme. However, out of my ignorance, this allows me knock off any bias and natural nepotistic considerations for recommendations. This paper is subject to further discuss and analysis especially within the areas highlighted in bullet points. For rendering my recommendations, I would further highlight sub-indicators expatiating on the last two messiahs stated above.

Value Creation or Branding

Focus on identifying and promoting core value not sale of products/services.

Evaluate a Brand.

Create the brand category. (What target audience or core value should operators be known majorly for in Transportation?)

Claim a unique platform. (What differentiates licensed operators from informal and un-organized mass transit?) Always pursue in expressing it clearly.

Turn around perceived weaknesses.

Get emotional. (Value creation is a balance of marketing strategy and human emotion. Connect with your audience's preferences, pain points and passions).

Tell grand stories. (More than communicate what you do, create a bigger story in which your brand plays a part. Start shooting informally, shoot non-linear videos and take photograph sessions of management meetings/think-tank sessions; the activities in the days of a Driver and Conductor, Operational planning teams, beginning and ending sessions of a consistent commuter - Igbo Trader, Hausa Bureau de Change seller, Yoruba Market woman, Young School boy/girl, White- collar office worker etc. And document these videos for community engagement purposes. This helps push value creation and branding in the open – however depending on the decision of core value or target audience).

Involve and carry along Employees.

Contemporary Integrated Logistics

Use of tailor - made infrastructures.

Transformational Leadership and Planning

Technical Expertise

Large Use of Telematics  (Abolishment of paper-based systems or transactions).

Jide Alara.

Please feel compelled to leave your comments and thoughts. This was a paper I wrote for a job application. Also, you can share via the icons beneath for more discussions. Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. eToro is the ultimate forex trading platform for beginner and pro traders.


Blog Archive