Urban rail transport in Lagos, Nigeria is reviewed to understand the relationship to other modalities and the time trends. Railways were generally the first form of mass transportation, and until the development of the motorcar in the early 20th century, had a virtual monopoly on land transport. However, since about 1980, there have been significant changes in railway systems throughout the world. There have been considerable modernizing and updating of equipment to enable Railways fulfill their role more effectively. However, in Lagos, Nigeria rail transport is inefficient and has hardly developed at all over the past 100 years compared to railways in the developed world.
The advantages of rail over other modes of transport in any urban mass transportation system are un-mistakenly manifest in its ability to move tremendously large numbers of commuters at short intervals and at a relatively cheaper rate with a very high degree of safety (Oyesiku, 2004). Also, since the rails guide them, they take considerably less space than unguided vehicles; and by having their own system, trains are unaffected by such extraneous factors as traffic congestion. Furthermore, general analyses have shown that the railway consumes far less energy than its universal competitors; and while other modes of transport depend entirely on oil, the railway - depending on the choice of locomotive - can use all primary sources of energy: coal, diesel, hydraulic and electricity. It has also been noted that the rail transport disturbs the environment far less than the highway or air transport.
The problem of global warming and ozone layer depletion is one of the factors that necessitated the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) from late August to late September 2002 in South Africa. The summit commended the environmental friendliness of rail transport in mass movement of commuters in cities as well as in the minimization of urban transportation externalities like air and noise pollution, energy consumption, accidents and road traffic congestion problems. The summit established that the transport sector as a whole is responsible for approximately 25% of worldwide carbon dioxide emission; the main cause of climatic changes. The share of the rail and public transport is almost negligible while the dominant proportion of 80-90% is generated by private cars and road haulers alone (Odeleye, 2004). The summit thus recommends rail, as the backbone of sustainable urban transport.
Area of Study
Lagos State is situated in the western part of Nigeria. It is one of the coastal states and the vegetation is tropical rainforest, with a prevalence of lagoons, rivers, creeks, fresh water and brackish mangrove swamps. Lagos harbours more than 50% of all second hand vehicles in Nigeria, these vehicles are often unroadworthy due to their low fuel combustion and they cause pollution with exhaust gas constituents like CO, SO2, NOX, PbO and excess carbon dioxide (Adedeji, 2003). Unfortunately, comprehensive mass rapid rail transit system is currently absent in Lagos.
With the formal relocation of the seat of the Federal Government to Abuja on 12th December 1991, Lagos ceased to be Nigeria’s political capital. Nevertheless, Lagos remains the nation’s commercial capital. In terms of spatial extent, Lagos State is the smallest state in Nigeria and has one of the highest population (based on the provisional results of 2006 national census, Lagos State is the second most populous state in Nigeria with 9,013,534 million people). According to the 1991 national census, the state has a population of 5,725,116 out of a national estimate of 88,992,220 (Lagos State Government, 2002).
Rail Transport in Lagos State
The need to have an efficient railway system in Lagos was probably not recognized until about 1879. Between 1879 and 1892, private (United Kingdom) interests made various applications to the colonial office for concession to construct railways not only in Lagos but across Nigeria. But because the colonial government was unable to guarantee interest on the capital sum required for the construction, the applications were not approved (Labisi, 1999).
A preliminary survey was however ordered in 1892 by the Secretary of State for the colonies to estimate the cost of railway construction. The survey showed great potentials for trade and in 1895, the Secretary of State for the colonies sanctioned the construction of a railway line from Iddo to Otta, a distance of 32 kilometers (km), by the colonial government. Also, the tramway system was developed within Lagos to convey people from one point to the other.
However, as a result of metropolitan explosion and strain on road transport, it became necessary to exploit further, the potentials of the rail system. This probably led to the establishment of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) by an Act of parliamentary in 1955. Actual work on the first line from Iddo to Otta, commenced in 1898 and other lines from the South to the North were constructed thereafter (Table 1).
|Table 1: The Development of Rail Construction in Nigeria|
|Lagos – Ibadan||1898 – 1901||193 km|
|Ibadan – Jebba||1901 – 1909||295 km|
|Kano – Baro||1907 – 1911||562 km|
|Jebba – Minna||1909 – 1915||255 km|
|Port – Harcourt – Enugu||1914 – 1916||243 km|
|Enugu – Markurdi||1916 – 1924||220 km|
|Kaduna Junction – Kafanchan||1922 – 1927||179 km|
|Kafanchan – Jos||Opened to traffic in 1927||101 km|
|Kafanchan– Bauchi||1958 – 1961||238 km|
|Bauchi – Gombe||1961- 1963||166 km|
|Gombe – Maiduguri||1963 – 1964||302 km|
|Ajaokuta – Warri||Under construction||277 km|
|Port – Harcourt – Onne||Under construction||19 km|
|Source: Nigerian Railway Corporation (2002)|
As of today, the Nigerian Railway system is made up of 3,505 route – kilometers of narrow gauge (1,067 millimeters (mm)) track, 30 km of which is in double track while the rest is in single track. In addition to the foregoing, is the 19 km 1,067 mm gauge extension from Port-Harcourt to Onne deep sea port and the 277 km standard gauge rail construction (1,435 mm) from Ajaokuta and Warri.
As is the practice in other parts of the country served by the NRC, two categories of services are rendered in Lagos State and they are the passenger and cargo services. The Lagos District of the Nigerian Railway Corporation covers rail lines from Iddo to Ifaw junction including Ebute Metta Junction (EBJ) to Apapa and Ifaw to Idogo branch-lines giving a total of 97 km. Lagos District of Nigerian Railway Corporation plays leading roles in operational activities of NRC. Some of these operational roles are, conveying both local and imported goods from Lagos to the hinterland, running express passenger trains from Lagos to Kano, running intra-city and suburban mass transit trains for workers from satellite towns surrounding Lagos, organizing tourist trains for school children and holiday makers and provision of party, picnic and social gathering ground in the forecourts (URL 1).
The Lagos Metropolis Mass Transit Train Service run by the Lagos district of NRC was launched in Lagos on the 26th April 2001. For a period of 7 years, the Lagos mass transit trains (LMTT) carried a total of 5,674,354 passengers, which gives an average of 810,622 passengers yearly (Table 2). This shows that for the past 7 years, the railway carried less than 1.5 million passengers yearly in the whole of Lagos whereas according to World Bank (2002), the total two-way passenger traffic crossing the three bridges between mainland and Lagos Island per day was 1.59 million. This suggests that the service of the LMTT is grossly underutilized. In contrast, India railway operates 14,000 trains per day and carries an average of 16 million passengers per day (CNN, 2006).
|Table 2: Passengers Carried yearly by LMTT (2000-2006)|
|Year||Number of passengers carried||Amount N|
|Source: Nigerian Railway Corporation, Lagos District (2004-2007)|
|Table 3: Commodities hauled by Lagos District of NRC from Jan. – Aug. 2007|
|Month||Commodity||Wagons||Tons||Point of Origin||Point of Destination|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (350 kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (1850 kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (1950 kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce(800kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (1360 kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (4840 kg)|
|Luggage & Parcel / Country produce (5665 kg)|
|Source: NRC, Lagos district (2007|
As shown in Table 3 the major commodities hauled by Lagos district of NRC between January and August 2007 are Car, Cement, Billet and Wheat. These products are hauled by freight train from Apapa local, Apapa Quay and Ebute Metta in Lagos to the northern parts of the country.
Past studies have shown that a major cause of transport problems in Lagos is the underutilization of public transport modes such as rail and water, thus restricting the development of an integrated transport system (Adefolalu, 1993). However, in line with global trends for mega population centers like Lagos to have effective modern rail mass transit systems, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), a private sector-driven entity for the better management of the Lagos transport sector has developed a rail master plan, which would create a network of urban rail-based systems covering three major corridors of high commuter traffic demand: the North-South corridor between Ijoko-Alagbado and Iddo along the Nigerian Railway corridor; the East –West corridor along the Ojo-Okokomaiko to Mile 2 axis; the Eastern corridor to serve the emerging development along the Lekki to Epe axis; and a central ring between Victoria Island and Lagos Island connecting the three corridors (LAMATA, 2006).
Consequently, the Lagos State Government in March 2005 signed a $240 million Memorandum of understanding with LEMNA International Incorporated, a United States-based firm for the construction and operation of a light rail on a build, operate and transfer arrangement (Olasunkanmi, 2005). In addition, in May, 2007, former President Obasanjo flagged off the $449m Iddo-Ijoko Light Rail Mass Transit Project, being coordinated by the Lagos Mega City Development Authority and he also approved of the extension of the project to cover Kajola in Ogun State (Adeyemi, 2007).
The share of rail mode in the transport sector in Lagos State is not encouraging, and it still plays an insignificant role in urban mass transit and freight movement. Hence, there is the need for the provision of an efficient rail mass transit in Lagos. The Lagos State government should form partnership with private organization and multi-national bodies to provide an effective rail system in order to adequately serve the high density of commuters in Lagos.
- (1) Oni, S. I. & Okanlawon, K. R. (2005), Challenges and Prospectus of Urban Mass Transit in Lagos, Nigeria in African Perspectives on Globalization and Sustainable Development, Fadeyi, A. and Somoye, R. (ed.), Rocsom Publishers, Lagos, pp.77-99.
- (2) Okanlawon, K. R. (2006), Towards Enhancement of Light Rail System in Efficient Transportation of commuters in Lagos State in Journal of Social Policy and Society, Volume1, Number 1, pp.22 -27. References
- Adedeji, A.(2003), “Environmental Degradation in Urban Areas” in NIGERIA People, Environment and Development, Adeleke K.(ed.), Community Conservation and Development Initiatives, Lagos, pp.36-37.
- Adefolalu, A. A. (1993), “Bottlenecks and other Constraints to Traffic Flow in the Lagos Metropolitan Area” in Nigerian Transport Handbook and Who’s Who, Media Research, Lagos.
- Adeyemi, D. (2007), “OBJ flags off $449m Iddo – Ijoko rail mass transit project." Nigerian Tribune.
- CNN (2006), “Indian Railway Operation for the Year 200”, by the Rail Minister Sajaw, December 29, 2006Labisi, A. (1999), “Rail Transport”, in Lagos State in Maps, Balogun Y. et al (eds), Rex Charles Publication in Association with Connel Publications, Ibadan.Lagos State Government (2002), Lagos State Diary 2002, Lagos.
- LAMATA (2006), LAMATA Bulletin, Lagos, December 2006, P.4.
- Odeleye, J. A. (2004), “Rail Option in Urban Transportation in Nigeria” in Perspectives on Urban Transportation in Nigeria, Vandu-Chikolo et al (eds.), Published by the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NIIT), Zaria.
- Olasunkanmi, A. (2005), “Lagos, American Firm Sign $25m Rail Contract”. AllAfrica.com.
- Oyesiku, O. K. (2004), “Policy Directions in Urban Transport” in Perspectives on Urban Transportation in Nigeria, `Vandu-Chikolo I. et al (eds.), Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria. World Bank (2002), Document of the World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Credit in the Amount of SDR 75.5 million (US$100 million equivalent) to The Federal Republic of Nigeria for a Lagos Urban Transport Project. Nigerian Railway Corporation.