In the Central Business District of Nigerian cities, transportation problems are very common as a result of the growing population, rapid urbanization and economic activities. Leading the pack of these transportation problems are challenges with vehicle parking spaces.
In an urban setting such as Lagos which is the fastest growing urban center in Nigeria with a population of almost 15 million people, there is the need to critically preview what parking facilities are available to the private and commercial vehicle owners that form a larger percentage of road users whose daily activities constitute traffic congestion.
Areas in Lagos facing Parking Challenges
Every 10 cars are vying for a parking spot virtually every second in Lagos metropolis. About 87,000 cars alone were imported to Nigeria last year compared to about 43,000 the year before.
There exist myriads of parking and traffic problems in the Central Business District (Opebi/Allen and Alusa) and most parts of Ikeja. Commercial streets in Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Lekki and Lagos Island are often burdened with parking challenges. Also, vehicle owners plying routes in commercial districts such as Surulere, Egbeda, Iyana-Ipaja, Apapa, Mile 12, Festac Town, Oshodi, Agege, Ojodu and more face a lot of parking challenges.
Types of Parking Arrangements in Lagos State
Parking in most business districts of Lagos state are done in three basic ways, namely: On-Street, Off-Street and Bus-stop parking facilities.
On-Street Parking – Is the adequate space for vehicles at the side of the road.
Off-Street/Terminal – Is a parking space whether at the earth or off-street in a lot, garage, shopping center or private driveway.
Bus-stop – Is a parking space provided for motorists along the road way in the central business districts and also at designated place.
These parking facilities in the state however, are grossly inadequate to cater for the large number of vehicles on the road. During peak periods or working hours, there is usually a tight jostle for the available parking spaces on the streets, causing most motorists to use non-designated spaces for parking which usually leads to a traffic snarl. In situations whereby there are large events being held at public venues, churches, mosques, hotels, schools, stadiums and more which have inadequate parking spaces, the cars often spill out to the roads and cause a lot of problems for road users. Parking in illegal spaces also increases the occurrence of vehicle theft.
The Parking arrangement is Lagos state is typically characterized by the following problems:
- Lack of seasoned management system. The administration, control and management of the garage system presently lacks orderliness, strategic planning and mode of operation. This creates confusion and fear in the travelling populace.
- Boarding of vehicles along the highways or at illegal bus stops.
- Lack of enforcement agency or regulatory body to enforce relevant regulations into practice and order; and general lack of parking policies.
Addressing the Problem
In Lagos state, the culture of paying for parking in designated parking lots and garages is something a lot of residents are not used to. This increases motorists’ use of illegal, free spaces for parking which causes more problems for the state. Parking is seen as infrastructure but it can only be a structure if it is paid for by those who use the infrastructure and left in the hands of the experts to manage. Nigeria is still very green in this area as steps are in process to change our thinking of parking as free infrastructure.
Lack of appropriate parking regulations both at the state and federal levels is also a contributing factor.
Also, landlords, property developers and builders don’t invest adequate funds and expertise into providing adequate parking spaces in their building plans. Most land owners rely solely on local property developers who can only work within their means and resources in providing very limited parking facilities for each property built be it for commercial or residential purpose thereby adding to the problems associated with parking in Lagos state.
In the light of the problems of parking in Lagos state, the following solutions are recommended
- All Local Planning Authorities should specify and enforce the provision of parking space in new buildings; especially commercial buildings and shopping malls.
- Education and enlightenment programmes which are basic tools for achieving effective traffic management control should be taken more seriously. In Lagos most motorists are not conversant with the traffic rules and regulations.
- Parking facilities should be located at easily accessible off-street points and convenient to the motorist ultimate destination. Good access streets should serve the facility and it is desirable to locate facility such that no exit or entrance is within a distance of at least 50m from intersection.
- The types of off-street facilities to be considered are: Surface Car Parks, Multi Storey Car Parks, Roof Parks, and Underground Car Parks. These facilities are costly to provide and maintain. However, the service rendered is so enormous to traffic management.
- Police and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) should be mandated to enforce the rules and regulations binding the vehicular traffic operations without any fear or favour in order to mate out penalties and punishment to defaulters.
Demand for parking spaces and other facilities are high. However, with efficient use of these recommendations and more, there would be an improvement in the urban transport policy. Implementation and enforcement of traffic management regulations will ensure a sustainable traffic environment in Lagos Megacity.