On a normal day, the traffic congestion on Lagos roads is bad. To live and enjoy Lagos is to come to terms with a traffic headache.
Meanwhile, no matter how bad it gets, most traffics are slowly moving ones. And there are some spots that are already reputed for mad traffic, while some are reputed for mild traffic.
So, it becomes possible to calculate and make predictions about the traffic congestions, taking into account periods of the day.
But whenever it rains, all your calculations about the traffic spots and peak hours usually will fail. The city is always on complete lockdown. Some people blame it on demons, others for witches and wizards.
Sometimes, it could be a little rain that lasts for just a little over 30 minutes, and there will be traffic everywhere. And then, when there is a real downpour like it happened on Friday, September 7, 2018, the average travel time for a 45 minutes journey increases to between 4 to 5 hours.
So, what exactly worsens the Lagos traffic each time the rains come down?
Here are 6 things we believe compound the traffic congestion.
1. Bad Roads
Culprit number one is the Lagos potholed roads.
Without a doubt, the Lagos State government is doing a lot on roads but not enough.
It is not enough to just award road contracts and let the contractor do his worst. He needs to be monitored and inspected to make sure he delivers the best quality road that will stand the test of time.
Most roads in Nigeria do not last more than the administration that tarred the road. What is the value of the road when it won’t last more than one year and it gets filled with potholes.
Think of the road on your street, has it not been tarred before? Is it still passable? Think of the roads you drive to work, has it not been tarred before? What shape is it in now?
You see, whenever it rains, the potholes get flooded and road users become more careful, not knowing exactly what portion to put their tyres. This slowing down to manoeuvre the potholes contribute significantly to the crazy traffic each time it rains.
2. Poor Visibility
This is pretty common and not unusual. Whenever it rains, drivers are bound to slow down because of poor visibility.
Driving in Lagos on a bright day is tough enough not to talk of doing it under poor weather condition.
And for sure, Lagos drivers have to worry about more than the poor visibility. They look out for many things such as pedestrians crossing the roads when they should have used a pedestrian bridge, abandoned vehicles on the road, drivers parking at both sides of the roads, potholes and unexpected bumps.
3. Slow-Moving, Heavy-Duty Vehicles
As you know, big size doesn’t support speed. And there are so many of those big articulated vehicles on Lagos roads.
So, coupled with the poor visibility and bad road, it is not a surprise that they are a source of traffic even on a regular day. Next time you suddenly meet a traffic, observe carefully, you could see it is caused by a slow-moving articulated vehicle.
Sometimes, there may be two of them on the road trying to overtake each other.
And when it rains they move more slowly because of their sizes which make things even worse for motorists.
4. Broken Down Vehicles
Whenever it rains, many cars just simply refuse to keep moving. And I ask myself if those cars would have refused to keep going if it weren’t raining.
But it is a norm, many cars break down once rain starts and that causes traffic because other road users then slow down and try to not bump into the broken down vehicles.
It is not uncommon for some drivers to just abandon their vehicles on the road when it breaks down during rain. This causes a lot of traffic on the road.
This leaves drivers with just a single line to take. And sometimes it is just one road serving drivers coming at both ends. This causes so much traffic that one can spend eternity in a distance that could have cost a few minutes.
Sometimes you can be in a spot for an hour, and when you finally wriggle yourself out of that spot, you find out the road ahead of you is free. Just one pole away from the spot you sat for an hour.
5. Bus Drivers & Illegal Parking
Sometimes I think the commercial bus drivers are the real owners of the road, others are just sharing it with them.
They drive the way they like and park anywhere they like. They stop in the middle of the roads to pick passengers and drop off passenger whenever and wherever they like.
They do not care if more than 20 cars are lined up at their back; they do whatever they like on a public road.
And during a rainfall, it is even worse. The road traffic officers always disappear to take shelter from the rain and so there is no one to control them.
This no doubt compounds the traffic.
6. Illegal Activities of Motor Park Touts
I think the only people in Lagos who are not deterred by rain or sun are the motor park touts, popularly called agberos. Whether it is heavy rain or intense sunshine, they are always there chasing after bus drivers for money.
But sometimes, these bus drivers are not very cooperative. When they stand in the middle of the road to argue it out with these agberos, they have already caused a lot of traffic at their back.
Lagos is just what it is. In fact, after one year in Lagos, I still wonder how Lagosians cope.
In conclusion, commuters in Lagos see hell during rain, it’s always very dangerous as drivers hardly see very well. Plus the road is flooded, wet and in bad shape, tanker drivers take most part of the road, and drivers most of the time are also in haste to get to their destinations.