Being a coastal area, surrounded by bodies of water, land remains a goldmine in Lagos State and so anybody that has a space wants to maximize its benefits to the maximum. Economically, this has its good sides, especially for the land owners. But it becomes unfair when it has negative effects on others. Years ago, every modern residential building used to have either garage or ample parking space for their visitors and ply area or recreation areas for the residents. Business organizations were also situated in such a way that clients’ parking needs are catered for.
Things have, however, changed. Nowadays, buildings are being erected without space for parking while blocks of flats keep springing up here and there without consideration for residents’ parking lots. Schools of various sizes are similarly now being constructed with little or no arrangement for parking and leisure spaces. Eventually, roadsides and major streets become improvised parking spaces. This, of course, constitutes a major nuisance for free vehicular movement and ultimately partly responsible for traffic gridlock in the state.
Extreme lawlessness is so manifested in the building sector that some developers even convert areas marked as parking lots to blocks of shops, thus making nonsense of physical planning arrangement. Today, new housing estates are springing up daily across the state without addressing the same issue. Old houses are being pulled down at various places in the state, only to give rise to gigantic shopping complexes and event centres built along major roads with no designated parking lots.
This distasteful practice is now a common sight across the state with its attendant harsh and depressing implications on commuters and pedestrians’ movements. Since roads have suddenly become excessively narrow as a result of vehicles that are parked on either side of the roads, the safety of commuters and pedestrians become seriously compromised. Many have lost their lives while jogging or walking along the road. No thanks to roadside parking! Consequently, many who would have loved to engage in walking for pleasure and fitness have to think twice before engaging in such a risky venture.
The way things currently stand, the state government needs to come up with clear-cut policies on the nuisance of road-side parking in Lagos. It is a practice that is not good for investment. No matter how much energy that is put into courting foreign and local investments, the enabling environment must, first and foremost, be created before such investment could thrive. Traffic gridlock is, no doubt, bad for business. And roadside parking is partly responsible for most Lagos traffic gridlock.
A recent study conducted by the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, has shown that a major cause of traffic jam in the metropolis is street parking. The study further revealed that at least 10 vehicles vie for parking spaces every 10 seconds at every street in the state. This has often left all streets clogged with motor vehicles, with many being parked at the roadside, or on the walkways, while others had to make do with double parking, blocking on-coming vehicles and causing traffic jams especially at the peak hours.
It is, thus, very important for the state government to come up with a policy aimed at addressing parking spaces in the state. The policy, which would be in line with global best practices, would make it mandatory for developers and property owners especially in commercial premises to address the issue of parking through the provision of adequate parking spaces, especially for all commercial buildings. The policy would help to consolidate the state’s public sector transportation management system.
Places such as event centers, hotels, restaurants, mosques, residential areas, churches, central business districts, inner streets, among others should be made to buy into the policy. The policy could be sustainable through development of pertinent infrastructure, such as on-street and off-street, multi-floor parking lots as well as strict enforcement of the policy via officials appointed by the Ministry of Transportation. As a punitive measure to dissuade street parking, fines could be imposed for violating the policy.
Corporate Lagos could also buy into the vision through massive construction of car parks which is a lucrative business across the globe. According to International Parking Institute, IPI, the U.S. parking industry generates more than $25-30 billion in gross parking revenues. Also in South Africa, the parking industry contributes more than 8%to their gross domestic product, GDP. A recent statistics by Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, also reveals that there are more than 13 million active vehicles plying Nigerian roads today, of which more than 2 million are here in Lagos. What all these data point to is the fact that there is a market hugely untapped here in Lagos with regards to car/vehicle parking.
Undoubtedly, more organized parking facilities within Lagos State will not only prove to be an income generator, but such could also help in reducing traffic congestion which is partly caused by indiscriminate parking along the largely congested streets. If this is properly addressed, it will not only create an enabling environment for everybody to live, it will also improve the condition of living of everyone in the areas concerned.
Perhaps, more importantly, the authorities involved in physical planning matters in the state must become more effectual in ensuring that building regulations are strictly adhered to. A major difference between the animal kingdom and human societies is that the latter thrive on law and order. We must all begin to abide by the laws of the land and if there be anyone that contravenes the law, the law must take its full toll on such. We should not allow the inaction of a few people to continue to bring untold hardship on the majority.
—Omojoye wrote in from Palmgrove, Lagos.