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 would want to take the risk of visiting this country after reading that advisory.
Universally, the following factors and components make the overall score under Environment & Culture in assessing the livability of a city.
* Consumer goods and services
Lagos may not do too well on all the factors when one considers the peculiarity of the state vis-à-vis its motor driving culture, state of the environment and respect for the rule of law.
The city may have a fair showing in the areas of humidity and temperature, discomfort of climate, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship as well as cultural availability. However, it will score abysmally low on the level of corruption, sporting availability/recreational facilities, and consumer goods and services.
The US embassy advisory berated the country on the quality of goods and services, transportation as well as the quality of roads, which was referred to as ‘very crude infrastructure’.
The level of lawlessness and impunity with which motorcyclists and tricyclists conduct their business in Lagos 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 are clogged 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 public utilities needs to be vigorously pursued.
If Lagos needs social mobilisation and orientation, it is more urgent now than ever before because activities could grind to a halt as a result of the insecurity, lawlessness, filth, congestion and 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 the city. 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 its 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 this year, the state government needs to sanitize the entire corridors and institute a culture for the stakeholders to have a buy-in into this ambitious programme.
The state could seize this opportunity to improve its score in the areas of corruption by putting in place a system that is foolproof in the management of the trains, the stations, the corridors, the ticketing, the maintenance routine as well as the security of commuters. This will have a bandwagon effect on the psyche of commuters and could be used as a tool for transformative intervention.
Vast spaces along the corridors could equally be harnessed to serve as green areas as well as recreational and 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 trains, as well as through refreshments to be served in the course of commuting.
It is believed that once the roads are relieved of commuters due to the huge number of commuters using 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 livable city in Africa.
* Gbenga Onabanjo is of Go- Forte Foundation
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