Cablegate: Nigeria: Transportation Planning in Lagos Slow-Going, But

DE RUEHOS #0270/01 2031414
R 211414Z JUL 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


Ref: A) Lagos 169

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Lagos State Government (LASG) is attacking
head-on go-slows (traffic jams) that hinder the Lagos mega-city's
development plan. Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority
(LAMATA) is implementing its Transportation Master Plan, consisting
of water ferries, light rail, and bus rapid transit systems linked
by inter-modal interchanges. The State is rehabilitating major
roadways via public private partnerships with international
construction firms. A recently inaugurated Bus Rapid Transit System
will incorporate bus systems run by transportation union members who
otherwise might lose jobs. Water ferry jetties are under
construction and light rail right-of-ways have been assigned, but
there is much to be done before the system is reliable enough to
coax Lagosians out of their cars. END SUMMARY.

"Go-Slows": the Current State of Transit

2. (U) Lagosians have several primary modes of transportation:
private vehicles, okadas (motorcycle taxis), taxis, and molues and
danfos (private minibuses providing passenger service). Pedestrians
are everywhere, and congested roads and lack of sidewalks make
travel difficult. In Lagos, traveling in a car is as much about
making a strong business impression as it is about making a fashion
statement. As the number of Lagosians with disposable income has
increased, so has the number of private cars. Molues, danfos, and
okadas have also multiplied in recent years, resulting in the
infamous Lagos go-slows that can last hours and span miles of
roadway. Traffic jams, unruly drivers, a lack of traffic
enforcement, poor quality roads, and street hawkers all contribute
to the problem.

Transportation Master Plan: Link Bus, Ferry, Rail
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. (U) In 2003, Lagos State Government (LASG) created Lagos
Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), a World
Bank-assisted government agency to plan, design, and implement a
Master Transit Plan. In a meeting with EconOffs on May 16, Jide
Oduyoye, Deputy Director of Road Safety and Enforcement, said that
early in 2008, after several years of studies LAMATA, unveiled a
comprehensive master plan including new water ferries, light rail
lines, and bus rapid transit lines. The plan identifies 28 activity
centers which serve as interchange points between the various modes.
The goal is to create an integrated multi-modal system that will
minimize transfer time and provide a safe and effective
transportation system. In addition to the new modes, LAMATA is also
trying to rehabilitate existing roads and improve traffic flow. All
rehabilitation, Oduyoye said, is being completed with long term
planning in mind, specifically so that intelligent transportation
systems such as timed lights and electronic bus stop notifications
can ultimately be used. LAMATA plans to encourage public transit
use through a series of public relations campaigns and community

Roads: Rehab Eases Drivers' Woes

4. (U) LAMATA has recently begun renovations of major state owned
roads throughout Lagos. These rehabilitations have been completed
through public-private partnerships that LASG has entered into with
several international construction firms, such as Julius Berger.
Although EconOffs' ability to monitor this progress in the greater
Lagos area is limited, ConGen Lagos has noticed vast traffic flow
and road quality improvements on Ikoyi and Victoria Islands. ConGen
Offs and ConGen drivers also applauded the State's completion of the
rehabilitation on a long stretch of Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, popularly
called "the Lekki Expressway", which widened the right of way to add
lanes, leveled and repaved the road, repainted the lines, created
turn lanes, added a drainage system, and built a concrete median to
prevent illegal left and u-turns. The only road connecting Victoria
Island with Lekki Peninsula, Ozumba Mbadiwe handles a large volume
of traffic daily. The rehabilitation has noticeably reduced wait
times from a couple of hours, on average, to less than one hour for
travel to frequently visited offices of international oil companies
and other ConGen contacts. Other major road rehabilitations include
Bourdillion and Girard Roads in Ikoyi. Even with these
improvements, traffic jams occur, and the average commute time from
place-to-place can still exceed two hours. In most cases, road
rehabilitation projects have taken months, causing road closures,
often during peak traffic hours.

Bus Rapid Transit Includes Union-Owned Fleet

LAGOS 00000270 002 OF 002

5. (U) LAMATA launched its first Bus Rapid Transit line (BRT) in
March 2008. One hundred days after its launch, LAMATA's Managing
Director Dayo Mobereola was quoted in the news media as estimating
that the BRT system serviced a total passenger movement of 9.7
million, and the daily passenger load increased from around 15,000
to 140,000 people. Public response to the line has been positive
overall, and a performance assessment of the BRT is in the pipeline,
Oduyoye said. To assure the local bus driver unions, LAMATA
designed the BRT so that local unions could incorporate as
businesses and purchase and run buses on the line. These buses are
all being financed through local banks, and provide employment to
union drivers who might otherwise be out of a job as BRT riders
switch from molues and danfos to BRT buses.

6. (U) However, BRT faces capacity and pricing issues. LAMATA added
70 buses to its initial 120 bus fleet one month after its launch,
and plans to deploy 200 additional buses to handle the volume of
demand. Despite these increases, long lines remain at BRT stops,
and passengers experience long waits for buses. In early June
commuters protested a sudden increase in BRT fares, intended as a
price recalibration, from 50 naira for short distances to a flat
rate of 100 naira per trip; the protests quickly resulted in the
termination of the fare hike. Passengers also complained of buses
not running on schedule. Also BRT does not run on Ikoyi and
Victoria Islands so once there, passengers commuting in from the
mainland have to find other modes of transport.

Water Ferry Systems: Jetties under Construction
--------------------------------------------- --

7. (U) LAMATA has begun work on five water ferry jetties and
recently received rights-of-way for routes for a system of water
ferries. These routes will connect the new jetties on the mainland
with points on Ikoyi and Lagos Islands in an effort to reduce the
number of cars commuting to the islands each day. However, the
effectiveness of the ferries, like other elements of the system,
will depend on the efficiency of the interchanges at the jetties; if
there are no buses or other modes of transport waiting for
passengers to bring them close to their final destinations, most
commuters may continue to drive.

Light Rail to Use NRC Right-of-Way

8. (U) A recently signed MOU with the National Rail Corporation will
allow LAMATA to construct new light rail lines in the existing
rights-of-way of existing heavy rail tracks. Although there are
plans to create a large network of light rail lines, LAMATA is
trying to move forward with two specific lines, the Red and Blue
Lines, to connect Marina on Lagos Island with greater Lagos.

Developers Ignore Master Plan

9. (SBU) Oduyoye expressed frustration with developers of Victoria
Island's Eko Atlantic City and Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ),
commercial and mix-used industrial zones currently under
construction, for their failure to consult with LAMATA or to take
the Master Transit Plan into account in planning their projects. The
820 hectare Eko Atlantic City, planned for Victoria Island, and the
Lekki Free Trade Zone, whose published plans call for new arterial
and coastal roads, were never vetted with LAMATA, Oduyoye said.

10. Comment: Rational growth of the Lagos mega-city and improved
quality of life for Lagosians, many of whom spend up to five hours
commuting daily, depend on the Lagos State Government's ability to
implement the Transit Master Plan. Beyond merely setting up the
system, the State must deal with sometimes conflicting Federal-State
authority, lack of enforcement of existing regulations, and lack of
relevant expertise among even the most well-intentioned Lagos civil
servants. Lagos will have to make sure that the buses, ferries, and
trains run on time in order to coax Lagosians out of their cars and
keep traffic flowing. End Comment.

11. (U) This cable was cleared with Embassy Abuja.


© Scoop Media

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