Within the first six months of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration, he organised the first-ever traffic summitin Lagos, where experts in traffic management, town planners and architects from both the public and private sectors presented various papers on how to tackle the traffic problems in Lagos.
A communiqué in which the flowing assertions were made was issued after the summit:
- Inadequate road network for the size and population of Lagos is contributory to the traffic challenges.
- A number of the available road junctions are not properly designed and therefore require intervention and improvement.
- Thirty-three road junctions require relief and intervention.
- The roundabouts along the Lagos–Epe expressway are considered to be impediments and would require interventions.
The outcome of this summit resulted in the various junction improvements within the state. The aftermath of the summit was the radical shift from the traditional roundabouts, bequeathed to us by Britain, to signalised junctions, a pro-American initiative. One is largely dependent on the availability of power for the signals, whilst the other is dependent on drivers’ discipline and enlightenment.
For a city like Lagos, where the availability of constant power is still a challenge, the signalised junctions are bound to have their setbacks because alternative power backups are not in place.
The interventions started with the scrapping of all the roundabouts along the Lagos-Epe expressway. For a tolled road, the writer expected that the first option for consideration would be flyoversacross these junctions, whilst maintaining the roundabouts. Though this option is capital intensive, it is believed that the investments could easily be realised from the toll collections over a period of time.
For multilane roundabouts to be effective, motorists should know the rules guiding driving round the roundabouts—which lanes to keep to when making a turn and when going straight across. It is equally important for motorists to know who has the right of way at the circle. All these rely on driver education and enlightenment for these measures be effective. Sadly, there were no enlightenment campaigns for the users when these roundabouts were constructed, hence the disastrous outcome of their use. The misuse was therefore largely based on the ignorance of the users.
Till date, Great Britain and all her former colonies still use roundabouts and they are all very effective because of driver education and the enforcement of the rule of law.
I believe that before we opt for a new system, a SWOT analysis of the system should first be carried out. The inherent weaknesses should be considered. If these weaknesses cannot be eliminated or significantly reduced, then we should settle for a system largely within our control.
The signalised junctions along the Lagos-Epe expressway typically fall short of expectations because of the following reasons:
- Lack of driver education and enlightenment.
- Lack of provision of signals for pedestrians.
- Lack of control of pedestrians, hawkers and motorcyclists at junctions.
- Lack of enforcement of rules for drivers to keep to designated lanes and stop before the STOP signs, as well as beating of traffic lights.
- Inconsistent and confusing lane markings at junctions.
- Unsightly placement of lane-separating barriers for vehicles making a turn. These barriers have safety and health concerns.
- Inconsistent lane markings, and sometimes markings are not in line with international best practice.
- Non-availability of backup power supply at signal junctions to power signals when there is an outage.
- Improper coordination of signal lights, thus hampering pedestrian crossings.
There is therefore a compelling need for motorists, motorcyclists and even pedestrians to be educated as ignorance plays a prominent part in the “misuse” of these junctions.
There equally must be an enforcement of the rule of law against errant motorists and motorcyclists who disobey traffic rules with impunity. Until these measures are put in place, driving along our signalised junctions will remain a nightmare.
–Onabanjo is the founder of GO-FORTE FOUNDATION, an organisation dedicated to the restoration of the environment.