The perception about the ease of living in any city is premised on how a foreigner can easily adapt to the lifestyle in a city without hardship.
Recently, the United States Embassy in Nigeria put out a travel advisory to US citizens travelling to Nigeria. Except the citizen is a high-risk taker or an adventurer or the stakes are handsomely high, no sane person will dare want to visit the country.
Universally, the following factors and components make the overall score under environment and culture in assessing the liveability of a city.
These include Humidity/temperature rating, Discomfort of climate, Social or Religious restrictions, Level of censorship, Food and drink, Cultural availability, Social or religious restrictions, Level of corruption, Sporting availability/Recreational, Food and drink, and Consumer goods and services.
These factors may not suffice when one looks at the peculiarity of Lagos vis-à-vis its motor driving culture, the state of the environment and the respect for the rule of law.
The City of Lagos may have a fair showing in the areas of Humidity and temperature rating, Discomfort of climate, Social or religious restrictions, Level of censorship, as well as Cultural availability.
However, it scores abysmally low in the Level of corruption, Sporting availability/Recreational facilities, and Consumer goods and services.
The advisory berates the country in the quality of their goods and services, transportation as well as the quality of the roads, which was referred to as very crude infrastructure.
What could make Lagos be in the same league with war-ravaged cities, one may ask?
The level of lawlessness and impunity with which the motorcyclists and tricyclists conduct their business is most worrisome! They are a law unto themselves. They crowd up the roads illegally and move against traffic at will.
The corridors along our highways have been turned to markets of all sorts, sidewalks meant for pedestrians have been clogged up with traders’ wares, human and pedestrian traffic co-mingle; there is serious noise and air pollution everywhere, whilst the greens have suddenly disappeared, leaving in its wake weeds and bushes and abandoned vehicles of all shades and forms.
The urban landscape begs for renewal and the culture of maintenance of the public utilities needs to be vigorously pursued.
If Lagos needs a social mobilisation and orientation, the time is rifer now than ever before, because activities could grind to a halt as a result of the insecurity, lawlessness, filth, congestion and the lack of care and concern for our environment.
There is no doubt that the rate of migration from neighbouring states is overburdening the infrastructure in Lagos. As a subnational, it may not be able to control the migrants but there could be an arrangement with neighbouring states to stem the tide of migration.
For the City of Lagos to wear a new look and remove this unsavoury toga, the Local Government Authorities need to be made more effective as they are closest to the grassroots.
Sao Paolo in Brazil has the same type of population as Lagos, but it is able to a large extent manage the infrastructure and control the urban landscape.
For improved productivity, and to attract tourists and foreign investments into Lagos with the massive investment in the mass transit schemes of the Blue and Red Lines, billed to commence operations in the last quarter of the year, the State Government needs to sanitise the entire corridors and institute a culture for the stakeholders to have a buy- in into this ambitious programme. The time to do that is now. Tomorrow may be too late.
The State could seize this opportunity to improve its score in the areas of corruption, by putting in place a system that is full proof in the management of the trains, the stations, the corridors, the ticketing, maintenance routine as well as the security of commuters. This may have a bandwagon effect on the psyche of commuters and could be used as tool for transformative intervention.
Vast spaces along the corridors could equally be harnessed to serve as green areas, recreational, as well as sporting facilities.
The delivery of goods and services on the trains should be of utmost priority. We can equally showcase the culinary skills of Lagos through adverts on the train as well as through refreshments to be served during the commuting.
It is believed that once the roads are relieved of commuters due to the huge number of commuters to ply the train services, a systematic and gradual renewal and upgrading of all areas of the State should be embarked upon with a mindset to make Lagos, the most liveable city in Africa.
By Gbenga Onabanjo (Founder/Chief Responsibility Officer, Go-Forte Foundation)