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Infrastructure Development and Urban Facilities in Lagos, 1861-2000

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Ayodeji Olukoju

Chapter four. Urban transport in Metropolitan Lagos since the colonial period

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The Genesis of Urban Transport in Lagos

  • 1 Nigerian Pioneer, 25 June and 29 October 1920.
  • 2 Nigerian Pioneer, 18 January 1921.

1Unlike water supply and electricity, urban transport did not assume any great importance in the city of Lagos during the nineteenth century. It was only in the twentieth century that mechanical (motor) transport was developed as the dominant mode of urban transit. Moreover, the community itself was compact in size and the distances were, therefore, short enough to cover by non-mechanical transport. However, by the opening quarter of the twentieth century, bicycles, rickshaws, go-carts, and two- and four-wheel trucks had become the dominant means of transport in Lagos. Indeed, the boom of 1918-20 ushered in what was described as a ‘motor “boom”’ in post-World War I Lagos. In June 1920, a procession of 200 cars paraded the city during a Muslim festival, while in October as many as 600 vehicles were reported to have been plying Marina, the main street.1 These figures notwithstanding, a contemporary observer considering the poor state of Lagos roads contended that a car was a useless luxury in the city!2

  • 3 NAI, Comcol 1 1278 “Opening of Carter Bridge,” Port Engineer to Governor, Lagos, 23 October 1931.

2From the late nineteenth century, some effort was made by the colonial government to lay the infrastructure of road transport in Lagos. A major infrastructure was the Carter Bridge, named after Gilbert Carter, the colonial conquistador who expanded the then Lagos Colony into the Yoruba hinterland. Built departmentally between 1896 and 1901, the bridge, which links the island of Lagos with the mainland, was constructed in an age in which motor transport was yet to begin in Lagos. With a width between handrails of twenty and half feet it became “inadequate for motor traffic not to mention bicycles, pedestrians, cows, sheep etc.” when the city developed phenomenally in the first third of the twentieth century.3 This necessitated the reconstruction of the bridge in 1931.

  • 4 Ibid.

3The new bridge, also named after Carter, was constructed departmentally as designed by the consulting firms of Messrs Coode, Wilson, Mitchel and Vaughan-Lee. Given the increasing traffic that it was meant to carry, the bridge was designed with a thirty-eight foot wide roadway to accommodate four lanes of motor traffic and a ten-foot footway on either side. Due allowance was made for water-borne traffic by creating a space of twenty-five feet above low water and a navigational span of 85 feet. The bridge also carried water pipes, electricity and telegraph cables. With a total length of 2,483 feet, it was reputed to be “the longest purely road bridge in Africa.” The bridge was opened with fanfare on 22 October 1931 and survived into the post-independence period. A longer, sister bridge on the Benue was not accorded the “longest road bridge” distinction because it was “not of pure breed being a Railway bridge with a suspicion of road.”4

  • 5 NAI, CSO 26 0627 vol. I, LTC Annual Report, 1921, p.22, para. 47.
  • 6 NAI, CSO 26 06276 vol. I, LTC Annual Report, 1921, p. 2; Annual Report, 1922, p. 2.

4Meanwhile, road construction in the city proceeded at a relatively slow pace. By the end of 1921, only six of the 72 miles of road in Lagos were macadamized; 25 1/8 miles had a laterite surface, while the rest “had not been provided with any artificial crust whatever.”5 The number of drivers and vehicle licences issued in Lagos gives a clear indication of the increasing importance of mechanical transport in the city. The statistics for 1921 and 1922 are as follows. In 1921, 5,013 bicycles, 661 rickshaws and go-carts, and 165 carts and carriages were licensed; the respective figures for 1922 are 4,972, 509, 16 and 203. In 1921, 481 motor cars, 30 motor vans and lorries weighing between 35 and 50 cwt, five motor vans and lorries weighing in excess of 50 cwt, and 283 motor cycles were licensed. The corresponding figures for 1922 are 596, 36, 5 and 343, respectively. Wheel tax licences were also issued to government departments without payment of the licence fee. In 1921 these were for 100 bicycles, one rickshaw, two two-wheeled trucks, 23 four-wheeled trucks and two hand carts. The corresponding figures for 1922 are 218, one, seven, 32 and two, respectively. In the two years a total of 271 licences were issued to motor cars, motor vans and lorries, and motor cycles belonging to government departments without the payment of fees.6

  • 7 NAI, CSO 1/1/27, Gov. to Chamberlain, 28 August 1899.
  • 8 Ibid.
  • 9 LTC, Annual Report, 1921. p. 16.

5While the aforementioned were either private or privately-owned means of transport, public transport did not make an appreciable impact as a mass transport facility till the 1930s. The first initiative by the government was the construction of an electric tramway on the island. The proposal for the tramway was made by the colonial governor in a despatch in August 1899.7 He proposed that the line should run from the kerosene store on the island to the Carter Bridge, which linked the island to the mainland at Iddo. This would make the tramcars run on the same gauge as the railway as far as Ebute Metta. The tramway also had the advantage of facilitating the carriage of material to be used in sand-filling swamps on the island that the government was seeking to reclaim. It was reasoned that if the seat of government was expected to remain at Lagos, “such things as the Tramway, improved Streets … must in any case be provided for at Lagos, because it will undoubtedly remain a great trading centre.”8 The introduction of the tramway did not seem to have made any appreciable difference to the life of the ordinary Lagosian. A report of 1921 lamented that the electric tramway, which would have solved the problem of easy transport between the island and the adjoining mainland, “seems a long way off yet.”9

  • 10 P.O. Sada and A.A. Adefolalu, “Urbanisation and Problems of Urban Development.” in A.B. Aderibigbe (...)

6The despondency in the remark of the contemporary observer noted above derived from the operational deficiencies of the tram services. To be fair, the tramway had linked the island with the mainland via Carter bridge, and its connection with the railway terminus at Iddo meant that it could convey goods, passengers and commuters from the Iddo terminus to the island. On the island, the tram passenger service ran on a route including the Marina, Ereko via Ashogbon and over the Carter bridge to Iddo. The service ran from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm daily at 45-minute (and. later, 30-minute) intervals.10 Commuters paid a fare between one and three pence, depending on their destination: three pence from Kokomaiko to Iddo; two pence from Christ Church Cathedral to Iddo; and one penny from Ereko Street to Iddo. Appropriate tickets were issued for the trips. A branch of the tram service also conveyed the city’s sewage for dumping into the lagoon.

7By and large, the operational expenses of the tram service outstripped returns, leading to steady losses. The intermittent closure of the Carter bridge for repairs hampered access to the railway terminus at Iddo, and this effectively limited the tramway to the island. This led to a loss of revenue from that section of the line. In 1908 alone the line incurred a deficit of £794 on its operations. A section of the service was therefore shut down in December 1913, though its sanitary line continued to convey sewage. The entire scheme was finally scrapped on 30 June 1933, thus marking the end of the first public transport service in Lagos. This created the right atmosphere for the emergence of private sector operators, as we shall see in the subsequent section.

  • 11 Detailed in NAI, CSO 26 09653 vols. I –VI, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service.”

8Meanwhile, a major development was the inauguration of ferry services between the island and Apapa. This was preceded by a prolonged debate in official circles.11 A consistent advocate of a government-run ferry service was the Director of Marine, whose position was undermined by the prospect of the unprofitability of the scheme. The scheme was eventually inaugurated in 1925. Until then, the water transport business was controlled by private operators of canoes and by some mercantile firms, which conveyed their employees to and fro, from Lagos Island across the lagoon.

  • 12 Ibid, Director of Marine to Sec, Southern Provinces, Lagos, 21 May 1919.
  • 13 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG, 10 July 1923.

9In August 1911 the Apapa Workmen and Apprentices complained of the danger of commuting by canoe between Lagos and Apapa; but the Director of Marine’s tender for a private canoe ferry service did not attract any response. The workers’ subsequent complaint in 1913 also suffered the same fate, as the service was perceived to be unremunerative. Hence, no progress was achieved till the mid-1920s when increasing traffic following the development of Apapa and the Marine Dockyard, and more favourable economic circumstances, justified government involvement in the ferry service. By 1919, workmen attached to the Marine Dockyard, PWD labourers employed in the sawmill, employees of the Powder Magazine and Telegraph Stores at Apapa. and labourers of the Survey Department, who often worked on the Apapa side of the harbour, constituted a growing clientele for the dredger “Mole” or the barge “Silverdale”. “The number of employees that have to be transported,” it was noted, “has now increased to such an extent as to endanger the safety of the vessels detailed for this work, as it necessitates a considerable amount of overcrowding which cannot be avoided under existing conditions.”12 By 1923, the government had established what was called a “hand to mouth ferry service” consisting of two large motor launches, “Alligator” and “Crocodile.” But as the engines of these craft had been taken out and sold during the Great War (1914-18), they were converted into barges and towed by any suitable craft. The ferry worked only during the mornings and evenings when the Apapa labourers went to and returned from work. In the interval, the towing vessel was utilized by the Marine Department for other purposes The two ferries were run at a cost of £3,800 per annum and the number of government passengers carried daily, except on Sundays, averaged 1,150 persons. The Director of Marine reasoned that a government-run ferry service would capture the passenger traffic from the operators of the motor transport business, who charged a fare of six pence from Lagos to Ebute Metta, only half-way to Apapa.13

  • 14 CSO 26 09653, vol. II. Sec. of State to OAG. Nigeria, 14 Ju1y 1924.
  • 15 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG. 11 August 1925.
  • 16 CSO 26 09653, vol. IV, Sec. of State to Crown Agents, 31 May 1926

10Eventually, the Secretary of State approved the purchase of a ferry steamer in July 1924.14 After much consultation and preparation, the ferry steamer “Kathleen” finally arrived in Nigeria in June 1925 and the ferry service was formally inaugurated on 1 September 1925. A fare of one penny each way, between Lagos and Apapa, was levied on each passenger, who was entitled to only one hand luggage. The service operated according to a schedule which was arrived at after due consultation with officials and members of the business community.15 An order for the purchase of a second steamer was placed in 1926 at a cost of £20,000.16

  • 17 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG 31 January 1927; Ibid, CSG to Lagos Chamber of Commerce. 7 March 19 (...)

11Two related issues demanded attention as the service took off: the fares and the number of sailings. By January 1927 the ferry “Kathleen” made eight trips daily (Monday – Friday) and five trips on Saturdays. There were demands, notably from the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, for an increase in the number of trips. Expectedly, the Director of Marine was concerned about the additional cost of an increase in the number of trips when the service was yet to pay its way. He rather enjoined members of the Chamber of Commerce to patronize the government ferry service instead of transporting their employees by private launches. As part of the revenue drive, commuters were given a discount if they bought booklets of 50 tickets, which were valid for six months. The booklet cost four shillings as compared with 4s 2d for an equivalent number of single tickets. However, as commuters preferred the latter, the price of booklets was reduced to 3s 2d, giving a discount of 16 per cent.17

  • 18 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG. 23 August 1928: Director of Marine to CSG, 14 November 1929.
  • 19 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG, 14 November 1929: CSG to Director of Marine. 4 December 1929.

12There are clear indications that the ferry service was well patronized. By August 1928, the available craft – the “Kathleen,” the “Audrey” and the “Manatee,” which was redesigned and pressed into service in 1926 – proved incapable of coping with the demand during the rush hours. By November 1929, an average of 100.000 passengers per month patronized the Lagos-Apapa ferry service.18 Yet the service remained unremunerative owing to the cost of providing the service and to some sharp practices on the part of commuters. With regard to the latter, some bought the booklets at the discount price of 3s 6d and then resold the tickets at the rate of one penny per ticket, making a profit of eight pence per booklet. Moreover, unscrupulous clerks at the turnstiles were alleged to be “taking cash and substituting tickets and also making profit.” This was used as a justification by the Director of Marine to request the equalization of fares so that all commuters paid the same rate, whether in cash or by the presentation of a ticket. But the request was turned down because it would be unpopular with the commuters who would have had to give up a privilege they had been used to for some time. Moreover, it would be hard on employees living in Lagos and working at Apapa who paid their own fares. However, the fares were again raised to 4s 2d with effect from 1 January 1930, and each department of the government could pay for booklets of tickets to be issued to their staff.19

  • 20 Ibid, CSG to Director of Marine. 22 April 1933.

13In the final analysis, the Lagos-Apapa ferry service was a financial liability to the government (see Table 4.1 below). The colonial governor observed in April 1933 that it had been “run at a heavy loss to Government” and demanded suggestions towards reducing the loss.20 Accordingly, the Nigerian Marine experimented with a number of fuel-saving or cost-cutting measures, such as running the ferry on one boiler. A critical issue in the debacle was the ongoing Great Depression, which led to retrenchment and loss of patronage by the service. The Apapa Dockyard, for example, retrenched “a great number” of its employees and this effectively reduced the number of ferry commuters in 1932 to a little above the figure for 1927.

  • 21 CSO 26 09653, vol. V, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” Director of Marine to CSG. 28 November 1934; Gaz (...)

14The state of affairs clearly conveyed by these statistics shows that the government ferry service did not break even throughout the colonial period (see Tables 4.1 and 4.2). Fare reduction and other operational cost-cutting strategies failed to reverse the trend. With effect from 10 December 1934, a “workmen’s fare” was introduced for a trial period of three months. The new fare was one-half penny for each leg of the journey during a particular period of the day (between 6.20 am and 8.00 am, and between 5.15 p.m. and 7.15 pm).21 This scheme involved five trips either way. It was claimed that this discount attracted commuters from the canoes, which charged a fare of one shilling per month for the round trip compared with 2s 2d per month by the ferry service at one-half penny per journey. This was interpreted as boding well for the workmen’s fare scheme.

TABLE 4.1: STATISTICS OF OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1926-32

TABLE 4.1: STATISTICS OF OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1926-32

Source: NAI, CSO 26 09653 vol. IV, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” Director of Marine to CSG 27 April 1933.

  • 22 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG, 12 February 1935 and 6 June 1935.

15Yet, from March to May 1935, the number of trips covered by this scheme was reduced to two from Lagos to Apapa and four from Apapa to Lagos because, though the traffic was increasing, revenue did not increase proportionately. From 13 May 1935, all fares reverted to one penny with the exception of one trip daily either way.22 All was to no avail as the service suffered heavy losses up to 1943 as detailed in Table 4.2.

TABLE 4.2: OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1939-43

TABLE 4.2: OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1939-43

Source: NAI, CSO 26 09653 vol. V, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” enc.
Note: n.a (not available)

16Though it survived into the post-Second World War period, it failed to pay it’s way. The lamentation of the Director of Marine in 1943 reflected the gloomy prospects of the service:

  • 23 Ibid, Director of Marine to Financial Sec, Lagos, 24 February 1943.

When I took over my present job in 1934, I tackled the ferry question with a view to making it a paying proposition but failed. I also tried to reduce the debit balance and did not have much success with this. Fares were reduced to one-half-penny for certain trips, the number of trips the ferry made was reduced in order to save fuel, but all efforts failed and finally I had to ask the Government to look upon this ferry service as a public service and accept the loss.23

  • 24 NAI, Comcol 1 2567 “Lagoon Ferry Services,” Director of Marine to Comcol, 17 July 1945.
  • 25 Ibid, Director of Marine to All Government Departments, 12 August 1949.

17There was no possibility of further increasing fares, as this would simply drive the commuters back to the canoe operators who charged lower fares. The service continued nevertheless, for a report of July 1945 stated that the government’s two steam ferries carried between them 1900 passengers on each trip one way but that “the demand for such large capacity is nonexistent.”24 Green Ticket Books, issued free of cost to government departments, were withdrawn with effect from 1 September 1949 and all existing stocks destroyed.25

  • 26 A A. Abubakar, “Evolution of Ferry Services in Mass Transit,” in S. G. Ikya (ed.). Urban Passenger (...)

18The management of the ferry service was transferred from the Marine Department to the Inland Waterways Department (I.W.D.) of the Federal Government with effect from 1 April 1957. The I.W.D. was responsible for, among others, the maintenance and improvement of all navigable channels outside of the ports and their respective approaches; the control of inland water navigation, light buoyage, piers, wrecks and government dockyards; and the operation and maintenance of all government craft and ferries.26 In the final analysis, this development did not change the fortunes of the Lagos-Apapa ferry service even in the post-independence period. However, the ferry service still manages to operate, till today though fitfully.

19The poor record of the ferry service during the colonial period merely epitomized the unsuccessful attempts at state entrepreneurship in the transport sector, as will be seen in a subsequent examination of the municipal motor transport and ferry services in the post-independence era. As a background to developments in the post-independence era, we shall now examine the beginnings of the municipal bus service in the first third of the colonial period.

Private Enterprise and the Municipal Bus Service During the Colonial Period

  • 27 The discussion on W.A. Dawodu is based on the following sources: A.G. Hopkins, “An Economic History (...)

20Any discussion of this subject must begin by acknowledging the role of William Akinola Dawodu (1879-1930), the pioneer African importer of motor vehicles into Nigeria.27 A member of a leading mercantile family (the Mabinuori Dawodus of Lagos), he was educated at the CMS. Grammar School and trained at the Hussey Institute in Lagos. W.A. Dawodu (as he was better known) taught for a while at his alma mater before working with the Nigerian Railways. His stint with the Railways sharpened his technical skills, which he then took into private enterprise. After starting his business in 1905, Dawodu suffered an initial setback. Nevertheless, by 1907 Dawodu had achieved such a measure of success that the colonial governor was listed among his clients. His automobile business grew rapidly and he became the sole agent in Nigeria for American bicycles, Firestone tyres and various brands of automobiles: Dodge, Charlotte, Rio, as well as Premier, Hobart and the English Humber.

21W.A. Dawodu was the pioneer importer of American Ford cars into Nigeria, and he did an immensely successful import and repair trade in bicycles and automobiles. In Lagos and in Oshogbo, in the Western Nigeria hinterland, he established large retailing outlets and workshops where he had as many as fifty employees by the late 1920s. Unfortunately, his health, family life and business were beset by crises in the late 1920s. After he died intestate the business went into liquidation in 1930. Already, even before his demise, the major expatriate firms had begun to undermine him in areas of enterprise. But it may be claimed that he laid the foundation for the emergence of motor transport in Lagos and the rest of Nigeria.

  • 28 The discussion on Mrs Obasa is based on the account in G.O. Olusanya, “Charlotte Olajumoke Obasa,” (...)
  • 29 Ibid, p. 112.

22Dawodu’s pioneering effort in the motor import business was complemented by the Anfani Bus Service introduced by Charlotte Olajumoke Obasa, daughter of the frontline Lagos businessman, R.B. Blaize.28 A public spirited person in spite of her privileged social background, Mrs Obasa ventured into the transport business to relieve the agony of commuters on the Lagos - Ebute Metta route in the aftermath of the closure of the tramway service. Hence, her enterprise, which made its debut in 1914, was the pioneer urban bus service in Nigeria. Her four buses provided a regular service on the Obun Eko-Iddo route for a fare of one penny and on occasions offered special services. Although it was not a profitable venture, she persisted in running the bus service till the late 1920s when the Zarpas bus service continued from where hers left off. Her biographer notes that “she conceived the project as a philanthropic rather than a commercial proposition.”29

  • 30 Details in Ayodeji Olukoju, “Population Pressure, Housing and Sanitation in West Africa’s Premier P (...)
  • 31 NAI, Comcol 1 412, “Motor Transport Service (Lagos) Electrical Trackless Bus,” Commissioner For Lan (...)
  • 32 NAI, Comcol 1412, Commissioner For Lands to ADCOL., 29 October 1928.

23The turning point in the development of an enduring municipal transport service in Lagos came in the late 1920s when plans were laid for the establishment of a motor transport service across the island of Lagos, and between it and the mainland. The new Yaba Estate, which was developed in the aftermath of the bubonic plague of the mid-1920s,30 as well as Ebute Metta and Agege on the mainland were the destinations of the commuter buses. In April 1928, an official notified the Administrator of the Lagos Colony of “the urgent necessity of a regular and cheap bus service between Lagos and Yaba from the view of the development of the Yaba Estate.”31 This proposal could not be implemented for economic reasons; but the official suggested that the Lagos Town Council should call for tenders from private operators willing to undertake the service on behalf of the Town Council, for two years in the first instance. Such operators could be asked to ply the crowded routes, such as Ebute Metta to Yaba, and later extend their services to Agege. The buses and their drivers would enjoy free licensing, as if they were actually in the service of the Town Council, but the private companies would provide the capital and take the profits.32

  • 33 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, “J.N. Zarpas & Co Bus Service in Lagos Municipality,” Zarpas to CSG, 28 August (...)

24In 1929, a regular bus service was inaugurated in Lagos by the Levantine firm of J.N. Zarpas. The service was expected to aid the development of the Yaba Estate, which was intended to resettle the victims of the plague and to relieve overcrowding on the island. Two buses were put on the Lagos-Yaba-Ebute Metta route. As the service was not profitable at the initial stage, bus stops were created to increase patronage by commuters. Zarpas could rightly claim that it was responsible for “creating the nucleus of a recognised and regular Bus Service in the town of Lagos.”33 The firm added two new buses in March 1931 and subsequently increased the fleet to ten, each bus seating 32 passengers. However, Zarpas had to reduce the size of the bodies of the buses to make them suit the traffic conditions in Lagos. The company also responded to a request from the residents of Okesuna in Lagos to inaugurate a bus route between Igbosere Road and Tinubu Square. That service produced twenty-two trips per day but the maintenance cost ate into the profits. Zarpas claimed to have carried over two and half million passengers in one year and over 12,000 on a single day without any accident or loss of life.

  • 34 Ibid.
  • 35 An example of protectionist legislation is Ayodeji Olukoju, ‘Slamming the “Open Door:” British Prot (...)

25Although these claims might be self-serving, there is no doubt that the introduction of the bus service marked a departure from the pattern of life in Lagos. Before then, pedestrians walked and congested the streets. When taxis and converted cars were introduced, passengers paid a fare of six pence per head to Ebute Metta, compared to the Zarpas rate of one penny, a third of the fare approved by the Town Council. By 1933, the Zarpas staff consisted of 75 Africans and two Europeans. So successful did the venture become that thirteen buses run by competing firms joined Zarpas on the Ebute Metta route, a development that warranted the latter’s protest in August 1933. Zarpas described its competitors’ vehicles as “second hand old American cars converted for this type of transport but which are not safe and which are totally inadequate for this type of transport in a modern town and which must jeopardise the safety of the public of Lagos.”34 In addition, the company protested that its competitors charged unfair fares which might force it “to close down the city’s only proper and up-to-date Bus Service.” Deploring such “unsound competition”, Zarpas enjoined the government to regulate the business with suitable laws. It suggested that only heavy duty vehicles with a limited speed should be licensed to operate the service, while lighter half-ton or one-ton vehicles capable of faster speed should be prohibited. If the government was willing to enact such “protective legislation,”35 Zarpas was willing to expand its service by adding six vehicles, inaugurating a four-minute service running according to a published timetable, creating an Ikoyi-Idumagbo service for servants at Ikoyi and extending the service to other townships.

  • 36 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, President, LTC.to CSG, 5 September 1933.
  • 37 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, CSG to COMCOL, 12 September 1933.

26Although officials sympathized with the predicament of the firm, its demands raised some critical issues: first, whether it was right to grant an operator a monopoly on any particular route; and, second, whether it was reasonable to permit heavy omnibuses to operate on road surfaces that the Town Council did not have sufficient funds to maintain. The President of the Town Council, who raised these issues, contended that the posers could only be answered in the negative. But he acknowledged that Zarpas’ African competitors did cut corners by operating ramshackle buses, which were overloaded, and by charging low fares, which did not permit them to take good care of their vehicles. He, therefore, suggested that monopolies could be granted on individually specified routes, on certain conditions, and won by open tender. The sums paid during the tender could be used by the Town Council to repair the roads. Alternatively, regulations could be tightened to reduce the number of “pirate” bus operators, which would work to the advantage of those who ran well organized services.36 The colonial governor rejected the suggestion to grant monopolies on specified routes but expected the Lagos Town Council to be granted powers to ensure that “services are conducted in a safe and efficient manner, that vehicles are of approved type, that only specified routes are used, and that the number of vehicles using each route is kept within reasonable limits.”37

  • 38 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos,” Minute by Town Clerk, 22 March 1945.
  • 39 The wartime economy is analyzed in Ayodeji Olukoju, ‘“Buy British, Sell Foreign:” External Trade Co (...)

27The issue of vehicle licensing on particular routes was to generate its own controversy, particularly in the 1940s. Meanwhile, the commuter bus service functioned well during the 1930s. As an official recalled in 1945: “Before the war, buses were running at an almost incredible rate of one in every 21/2minutes. In view of war conditions, and in order to conserve petrol and tyres, the frequency has been cut down a little, but it is still of a very high standard.”38 The exigencies of the Second World War, including the rationing of petrol and tyres, and the curtailment of imports,39 put a check on the development of this service.

  • 40 For cost of living in Lagos during this period, see Ayodeji Olukoju, “The Cost of Living in Lagos, (...)

28In spite of the war and the accompanying social and economic dislocations, commuter traffic in Lagos was on the increase. This put pressure on bus operators, who responded according to their means and other circumstances. Zarpas, for example, had to reduce the frequency of their service from four to seven minutes’ interval. As new buses were becoming more difficult to acquire given war-time restrictions, the company encountered problems coping with the rush-hour traffic. Demand increased after workers received the Cost of Living Allowance in 194240 and the overcrowding of buses became inevitable during peak hours.

  • 41 NAI, Comcol 1, 1550, Zarpas to President. LTC, 8 January 1942.

29Attempts to import buses from the United Kingdom and the United States of America to fill the void were frustrated by the shortage of large buses even in the U.S.A. Consequently, Zarpas sought permission to increase the carrying capacity of the buses by increasing the number of standing passengers, as was being done in the U.K. and the U.S.A. In those countries also, the governments carried out propaganda enjoining the people to reduce patronage of the bus service during peak hours. For Lagos, Zarpas recommended that twelve additional standing passengers be allowed “so that conductors could not be breaking the regulations at PEAK hours despite all their efforts not to do so.”41 This struck the right chord in official quarters as the Town Engineer and the Commissioner of Police agreed that all the buses on the suburban routes should be allowed to carry more standing passengers. The appropriate traffic regulations were subsequently altered to reflect this change.

30Meanwhile, African entrepreneurs in the transport sector had become disenchanted with the arrangement by which Zarpas retained a powerful hold on the urban transport service in Lagos. The Nigerian Motor Transport Union accordingly made representations to the government to allow it to put more buses on the Tinubu Square-Yaba route. In a petition of March 1944, the Union lamented that Zarpas had been allowed to operate “about 95% of the total number of Buses operating in Lagos.”

  • 42 NAI,Comcoll 1562, vol. I, “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos”, E.O. Omolodun to COMCOL, 14 March 1945.

31But the firm operated only 70 per cent of its fleet. Had it done otherwise, “the transport difficulty daily experienced (in Lagos) would have been different.” The Union, therefore, requested that it be permitted to fill the void by running a service between Lagos and Apapa.42

  • 43 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, Minute from Town Clerk to President, LTC, 22 March 1945
  • 44 Ibid.

32The Commissioner of the Colony and the Town Clerk met a representative of the Union on 24 March 1945 to discuss the issues raised in the petition. But before then, the Town Clerk had prepared a memorandum which shed much light on the issue. He explained that when the service in the Tinubu Square-Yaba route was “properly established in 1935”, applications to run buses were invited by public notice. All applicants received the number of licences they requested and it was only Zarpas whose licences were reduced by five to create room for others. The Council fixed the maximum number of licences on that route at 24, the bulk belonging to Zarpas.43 The official noted that attempts had been made over the years by others, who were late-comers to the business, to reduce the stake of the pioneer firm. But he wondered whether they would have been willing to budge if the positions were reversed. He asserted that the Council had realized that “to ensure really good services it is necessary to give security of tenure to existing operators. … The existing operators have been given this security which enables them to plan ahead and order new buses to keep up a first class service.”44 The Council was also inclined to place an embargo on further licences in respect of the Tinubu Square-Yaba route. At the time the Town Clerk’s memorandum was written in March 1945, the route was being served by the following operators with their respective bus licences: Zarpas & Company (19); Nigerian Motor Transport Union (1); Beere’s Transport & Engineering Co. (3) and Benson (1). The Council was also planning to inaugurate its own municipal bus service.

  • 45 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, Ikorodu Transport Service to Town Clerk, LTC, 26 August 1947.
  • 46 NAI, Comcol 11562, vol. 1, A Shoetan to Town Clerk, 8 September 1948.

33The existing arrangement dominated by Zarpas was evidently disadvantageous to other operators, who continued to submit applications for new licences on the Yaba, Ebute Metta and Agege routes. As their applications met with repeated rejections, they accused the government of favouritism and even underhand dealings. One African firm stated, “If there is no other secret agent working against our way, we see no reason why our application should not be granted.”45 “We wonder why this injustice is be (sic) done to us,” bemoaned Shoetan Brothers after repeated failures. “We feel some back-door method is being adopted,” they declared.46 At the end of the day, the petitioners were among the African operators licensed to operate on the route. The list of operators as of January 1949 is contained in Table 4.3.

  • 47 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. II, Minute by Deputy Commissioner, 12 January 1950.

34It would appear that by 1949 the Lagos-Agege route was “already fully stocked with buses” and it was decided to place an embargo on the issuance of more licences. Interested operators would be asked to consider other options, such as the Lagos-Abeokuta route.47 With regard to taxis, many of the vehicles licensed for the metropolis were found to be “quite unsuitable.”

TABLE 4.3: LIST OF OPERATORS ON THE LAGOS-AGEGE ROUTE IN 1949

TABLE 4.3: LIST OF OPERATORS ON THE LAGOS-AGEGE ROUTE IN 1949

Source: National Archives, Ibadan (NAI), Comcol 1 1562 vol. I “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos,” Municipal Treasurer to Commissioner of the Colony, 28 January 1949.

  • 48 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. III, Acting Town Clerk to Deputy COMCOL. 18 January 1950.

35It was, therefore, decided that after twelve months taxis below 14 horse power, without sufficient head and leg room, and white dust covers on the seats, would no longer be licensed.48

  • 49 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. III, Acting Town Clerk to COMCOL, 5 August 1950.

36By the closing decade of the colonial period, motor transport service had expanded with the growth of the city. The establishment of major institutions at Igbobi, on the fringe of the metropolitan boundary, and at Ikeja, just across the boundary with Western Nigeria, and the growth of satellite communities such as Mushin and Oshodi, on the mainland, justified demands for the establishment of bus services. Yet the government maintained a rigid policy of licensing, which limited the number of buses on particular routes. This policy was summarized as follows in 1950: “As the maximum number of buses to operate the present routes in the township has been fixed, new applications … cannot be entertained.”49 Accordingly, prospective operators were warned against placing orders for buses in anticipation of permits. It may be noted that while the Town Council licensed the vehicles that plied the routes within the township, it was the Commissioner of the Colony who dealt with those plying routes beyond the township boundary, such as in Agege and Mushin.

  • 50 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, Elyas Transport Service to COMCOL, 6 January 1951.
  • 51 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, VIO Motor Traffic Unit, Minute, 22 November 1950.
  • 52 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, Municipal Treasurer to all bus operators, 9 May 1952.

37Municipal authorities took special interest in the condition of the buses, Undetf the Road Traffic Regulations, buses were required to undergo periodic testing, including testing of their spare parts. Buses that failed such tests were promptly ordered off the road.50 This became imperative for the safety of commuters, since operators tended to cut corners to increase their profit margins. The Vehicle Inspection Officer noted that a particular company “invariably carry out the very minimum of repairs on their vehicles and are apparently not prepared to co-operate … in maintaining a reasonable standard of efficiency.”51Moreover, from 1 January 1953, all buses licensed since 1 January 1949 were required to create an enclosure for the driver “so that he cannot be spoken to by passengers or fallen upon.”52

  • 53 P. Ukerehezu, “Remove the Ban,” West African Pilot, 23 June 1955.
  • 54 Comcol 1 1562, vol. V, Manager, Modern Transport & Allied Services to Municipal Treasurer, 16 Janua (...)
  • 55 P.O. Sada, “Political Policies and the Development of Transportation in Metropolitan Lagos,” NJESS, (...)

38By the close of the 1950s, the government was under pressure to relax its route licensing policy. A concerned resident of the adjoining suburban area pleaded that the ban on stage-carrying vehicles plying the Apapa-Ajegunle road be lifted in the interest of “market women and traders” who went to or returned from markets “with their heavy loads.”53 An aggrieved transporter deplored the Town Council’s “tactic … (of) peting (sic) [petting] an unlawful monopolistic policy.” The welfare of the community, he contended, dictated “the immediate suspension of the badly (sic) old policy” of limiting buses on routes.54 Zarpas, the evident target of such accusations, eventually withdrew from the business in 1958 and its assets (vehicles and buildings) were acquired by the Town Council. The total sum of £500,000 paid for the Zarpas assets included £392,183 for the fixed assets, £85,185 for goodwill; and £22,632 for current assets.55 The company was re-named the Lagos Municipal Transport Service (LMTS). This meant that the government had taken over the bulk of the municipal transport service.

39Meanwhile, the rapid growth of human and vehicular traffic on Lagos Island was placing great pressure on the roads and causing traffic congestion. First, municipal roads deteriorated as they were made to carry a much greater volume of traffic than they had been designed to bear. Second, the narrowness of the roads and the heavy traffic had begun to create traffic jams. Third, during the critical decade of the 1950s the peculiar status of Lagos as Colony/Federal Capital, and as a local government adjacent to the Western Region, generated tension among the different political actors – the colonial officials, the Town Council, and politicians in the Federal and Regional governments.

  • 56 Daily Service (Lagos), 21 October 1950, editorial: “Lagos Bumpy Roads.” For attempts to deal with r (...)
  • 57 West African Pilot (Lagos), 29 August 1956, editorial: “LTC Road Policy.”

40Nationalist newspapers, especially the Daily Service and the West African Pilot, took interest in these issues, especially the condition of Lagos roads. The Service, in an editorial of 21 October 1950, deplored the bumpy roads and the reckless driving by taxi drivers, which had claimed some lives.56 “We want well constructed macadamized roads that will stand the test of tropical weather”, it demanded. “No road built of sand and humus can throw away the torrential rains.” The newspaper also carried a series of letters by concerned Lagosians bemoaning the conditions of roads in Surulere, Yaba and the Island. The West African Pilot, in an editorial in August 1956, also noted that the LTC had finally yielded to pressure for the construction of a road linking Yaba Bus Stop with Ojuelegba Village. But it criticized the Council for spending thousands of pounds on temporary roads.57 However, its position was decidedly political, for the LTC was then controlled by the Action Group, not by the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the party of its patron.

  • 58 Comcol 1 206 vol. IIA, “Roads in Lagos Township,” D.M.O. Akinbiyi, Town Clerk, LTC to Chief Sec. of (...)
  • 59 NAI, Comcol 1 206 vol. IIB, Ag. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works to Chief Sec. of the Federat (...)
  • 60 NAI, Comcol 1 206 vol. IIA, Town Clerk to Permanent Sec., Ministry of Works, Lagos, 16 July 1957.

41The poor condition of Lagos roads derived from a combination of factors. First, the LTC did not possess the financial wherewithal to cope with the demands of its constitutional responsibility. Hence, its Secretary noted in 1957 that “the whole issue of road construction policy in Lagos is bound very closely with the question of satisfactory financial relations between my Council and the Federal Government.”58 The latter had earlier declined to give the LTC a grant for the maintenance of certain roads in Lagos.59 Second, the peculiar ecological setting of Lagos was not taken into consideration in the construction of the roads. The “majority of roads in Lagos,” it was stated, “have either no provision for surface water drainage or provision which is entirely inadequate, with the result that during the heavy rains the water attacks the foundations of the roads and causes them to collapse.”60 As contemporary observers may note, these problems continue to bedevil road construction and maintenance in Lagos, especially since the transfer of the Federal Capital to Abuja in 1991.

  • 61 Daily Service, 9 July 1957, editorial: “What Next;” 10 July 1947, editorial: “Who is Responsible?;” (...)

42Meanwhile, the heavy traffic and congestion on the Island had necessitated the conversion of certain streets into one-way thoroughfares. Among the streets affected by this innovation were Balogun, Victoria, Broad and Martin Streets. These conversions were in response to the unrelenting clamour by the press and by citizens of Lagos.61 They seem to have had a salutary impact on traffic conditions on the island. But with the increasing human and vehicular traffic on the island, conditions arose for a descent to the chaotic conditions which came to characterize the post-independence era.

Urban Road Transport in Lagos: the Post-Independence Era

  • 62 RO. Sada, “Political Policies and the Development of Transportation in Metropolitan Lagos,” NJESS, (...)
  • 63 O. Koenigsberger, Charles Abrams, Michael Wheeler, Susume Kobe, and Maurice Shapiro, Metropolitan L (...)

43A 1962 survey by a team of United Nations (UN) experts stated that LMTS operated twenty-two buses on routes in the metropolitan area and each of these buses made sixteen trips per day. Each bus had a capacity of 77 passengers, made up of nine standing and 68 seated commuters. This reflected a deliberate policy of increasing the fleet strength of the LMTS and of taking over the routes and fleets operated by the surviving private transport owners. Thus, the number of buses rose from 22 in July 1961 to 93 in July 1964; from 104 in November 1964 to 120 in January 1970. As impressive as this six percent annual rate of increase was, it was lower than the rate of population growth in the metropolitan area. This meant that supply lagged behind demand, necessitating the issuance of licences to private operators on specific routes.62 Hence, private bus operators could not be completely eliminated. Indeed, by 1962 Benson, Oshinowo, Union of Nigerian Transporters and Elias had put twenty-four buses on the routes linking the Island with the Mainland settlements of Idioro, Apapa and Yaba. Within the Federal Territory 686 other stage coaches were also licensed to operate. A sample survey in August 1962 revealed that while the LMTS carried some 100,000 passengers per day, Benson Transport Service alone conveyed an average of 14,000 passengers per day. If an estimate of 15,000 were allowed for the other operators, the total number of commuters served by these operators approximated 130,000 per day.63 This was in addition to the figures carried by ferry between Lagos and Apapa.

44In 1962, the Lagos Town Council was re-named the Lagos City Council and the name of the transport service was correspondingly changed to Lagos City Transport Service. Following the creation of Lagos State in 1967, the state government took over the running of the transport service and, in 1974 renamed it the Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC). A veritable successor to the Zarpas transport service, the L.S.T.C. took off from the old buildings of the Levantine firm.

  • 64 Margaret Peil, Lagos: The City is the People, London: Belhaven Press, 1991, p. 180.

45The LSTC covered routes beyond the old metropolitan boundary, as it was a state rather than a city enterprise. On the whole, its record of operation was generally unsatisfactory: in no time, the corporation was run aground as a result of mismanagement and sabotage. The corporation’s buses were over-manned, with as many as twelve employees per bus!64 They were slow and overcrowded and, compared to the “molues” and “danfos”, wasted a lot of time at the bus stops.

  • 65 The etymology of “Molue” and “Danfo” is enmeshed in controversy. A source (Mr. S.K. Bajo) claims th (...)

46This was in the heyday of “kiakia” (“quick, quick”) buses, now known as “danfo,” and “Bolekaja” (“Disembark for a fight”!), the latter having wooden bodies unlike the other buses with steel bodies.65 “Danfos” are Volkswagen buses with a capacity for twelve to fourteen passengers while the “molues” carry between forty and sixty passengers. The latter are capable of over-loading even beyond the number of standing passengers. In the subsequent decade, the “bolekaja” buses were taken off the municipal routes. They now operate as goods trucks conveying foodstuff and the foodstuff owners on the inter-state routes. Conversely, the restriction on “danfo” buses, which barred them from the Island, was lifted by the administration of Governor Jakande (1979-83). Until then, only molues and bolekajas were licensed to ply the routes leading to and from the Island.

  • 66 Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 195.

47Meanwhile, the comparative advantage of the private bus operators ensured their patronage by the commuters. ‘Although the motorboys [bus conductors and touts] in the “Bolekajas” are reputed for rough-handling passengers,’ it was observed in 1970, ‘passengers continue to use them because until 1966, they were the only link between the central city and such sub-urban districts as Agege, Oshodi, Itire and Ajeromi.’66 It was also noted that while the “bolekaja” and “kiakia” buses took half an hour to undertake a trip from Idioro (Mushin) to Apapa wharf, the L.M.T.S. buses took 45 minutes. The greater speed and efficiency of the former was attributed to the need to break even, since most of the vehicles operated on a purely commercial basis.

48Many owners drove their own buses and every driver intended to make a profit for himself after delivering to the owner an agreed sum of money. Hence, the more trips he made the higher his profit margin was likely to be. Conversely, the L.M.T.S. bus driver was under no such pressure or obligation. He was not compelled to keep to schedule and, unlike the private operator, he was obliged to stop at every bus stop, whether or not passengers were embarking or disembarking. He also could not switch to more profitable routes as could a commercial bus driver.

  • 67 Peil, Lagos, p. 181.
  • 68 This and subsequent paragraphs are based on interviews with a senior official of L.I.T.A. and Henry (...)

49The number of LSTC buses on the road declined rapidly from 245 in 1980 to 73 in 1984 and they carried barely 150,000 passengers per day.67 The government then decided to lease the buses on a monthly basis to private operators who paid a fixed lump sum.68 In 1991, the administration of Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Chairman of the Lagos Island Local Government, decided to revive the old LMTS. In 2000, the name of the transport service was changed to the Lagos Island Transport Authority (L.I.T.A). The L.I.T.A. fleet received a boost from the Federal Government Urban Mass Transit programme, by which it acquired three 33-seater Mercedes 608 buses, twelve 25-seater Nissan buses and one Isuzu bus. The Lagos Island Local Government bought two Mercedes 608 buses from another local government and purchased 37 Mitsubishi Rosa buses through syndicated loans. Twenty of these vehicles were bought in 1991 and seventeen in 1992. In 2000, ten Mercedes 405 buses were purchased by the L.I.T.A. Like the LSTC, the L.I.T.A. faced problems of management. Buses were leased out to private operators at the rate of N25, 000 per month; but the rate was reduced by half when operators complained that it was prohibitive.

50During the closing years of military rule (1997-99), the Eko Transport Service was inaugurated as a subsidiary of the L.S.T.C. Its buses were leased to private operators who were required to pay back the landed cost within thirty months, after depositing a fixed amount of money and producing collateral. In spite of the great hopes raised at its inception, the E.T.S. did not seem to have made much of a difference given the astronomical rise in the commuter traffic to and from the Island.

  • 69 Information on the construction of Lagos roads and bridges was obtained from Peil, Lagos; and Lagos (...)

51Meanwhile, through an initiative of the Federal Government, a massive expansion in the building of roads and bridges in Lagos took place, principally in the oil boom era of the 1970s and 1980s. This was in view of the status of Lagos as Nigeria’s Federal Capital and industrial hub, and also because of the tremendous pressure which the population explosion and intensified economic activities exerted on the road transport infrastructure in the Lagos metropolitan area. Lagos Island (Ikoyi and Victoria Island) which remained the focus of government and commercial interest was thus effectively linked with the mainland and the Nigerian hinterland. In addition to the Carter Bridge (opened in 1901 and reconstructed in 1933 and 1979), two other bridges were constructed to link the island with the mainland: Eko Bridge, built in 1970, and the Third Mainland Bridge, commissioned in 1991.69

52Nevertheless, the government’s efforts were grossly inadequate to cope with the pressure of demand. The widening gap between demand and supply rendered strict regulation on specific routes, as in the colonial era, impossible from the 1970s. Although this transition from strict regulation to total deregulation cannot be dated with precision, it must have been from the late 1960s, when the growth of population was becoming overwhelming. Although buses are still licensed for general or specific routes, the government is no longer in a position to impose strict controls or limit the number on certain routes as was the case during the colonial period. The phenomenal rise in the population and the widening gap between supply and demand have forced the urban transport system out of government control into private hands. The consequence of the massive expansion of routes and buses has been the difficulty in regulation.

  • 70 The discussion here is based on fieldwork and personal experience in Lagos. The following descripti (...)

53This has led to the use of vehicles that are not in a roadworthy condition and has resulted in inconvenience to commuters and in fatal accidents.70 Vehicles are not regularly maintained by their owners, who are driven by profit, while the traffic police have simply exploited the lapses to enrich themselves rather than apprehend unqualified or dangerous drivers and impound ramshackle vehicles. Other problems are the ever-worsening traffic situation brought about by the convergence of traffic at critical points during the rush hour (between 7.30 and 9.30 a.m.; and between 3.30 and 6.00pm) during the working week (Monday to Friday); the inefficiency of traffic lights and wardens; and the sheer indiscipline of official and private motorists. The rapid increase in the number of vehicles, official, commercial and private, has further compounded matters. This justifies calls for alternative modes of urban transit in Lagos, an issue that receives some treatment in the next section, which gives a historical outline of developments since the late colonial period.

54A consequence of the stupendous increase in the population of commuters and in the number of private and commercial transport facilities in Lagos is the incidence of traffic congestion. This problem became menacing in the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war (1967-70) and the oil boom of the 1970s when Lagos received a massive influx of people and vehicular traffic. As already noted, the tremendous pressure on Lagos roads necessitated a massive programme of road construction by the government of General Yakubu Gowon to ease the chaotic traffic situation. But this offered only a temporary respite, given the exploding population and intensified economic and social activities in the metropolis. The movement of the Federal Capital to Abuja in 1991 has not made any difference to the volume of human and vehicular traffic in Lagos. The twin phenomena of the massive importation of’“tokunbo” vehicles and the emergence of “okada” motor cycle transport operators, while ameliorating the suffering of commuters, have simply compounded the traffic situation even outside the peak periods.

  • 71 Peil, Lagos, p. 179. Writing in 1981, Adefolalu, “Intra-Urban Transport Services in Lagos,” p. 114, (...)

55The perennial and seemingly intractable traffic congestion in Lagos may be attributed to the absence of true mass transit facilities (such as surface or underground passenger trains); the unplanned growth of the city; the acute housing shortage which has made long distance commuting indispensable; the poor state of the roads (which are narrow and/or infested with potholes); the mixed use of the motorable roads by different types of vehicles (lorries, buses, tankers, motor cars, motorcycles and handcarts etc); and the gross indiscipline of private and commercial vehicle drivers, who flout traffic regulations at will.71 The deployment of road wardens and other law enforcement agents has not ameliorated the situation to any significant extent. Indeed, such officials have tended to be more interested in exploiting the chaos to their own pecuniary advantage by harassing commercial taxi, bus and motorcycle operators and extorting bribes from them.

56Molue and danfo drivers have tended to hold other road users to ransom: they fail to park broken down vehicles, or functional buses while collecting and discharging passengers, off the road. Such insensitive practices generally reduce several lanes of traffic to only one; drivers in the various blocked lanes then struggle to enter the single free lane to make good their escape from the trouble spot. The absence of a traffic warden and the notorious impatience and selfishness of Lagosians have always combined to produce a traffic jam. Such traffic jams, for which the city has earned an odious reputation, could take several hours to clear. A major consequence of the perennial traffic gridlocks in Lagos since the 1960s has been the loss of thousands of man-hours, the wastage of scarce resources (fuel) in the traffic, the consequent environmental pollution that results from the injection of carbon monoxide-laden fumes into the atmosphere, and the escalation of transaction costs (particularly transport costs). Lagosians have come to terms with waking up and leaving home for work very early, to beat the early morning traffic congestion, and with returning home late. This has telling effects on the health of the individual and on social harmony in the home. Many children hardly see or interact with their parents during the week as the latter leave for work before their children wake up and return at night after their children have slept. This practice also means that workers in Lagos generally lack time for recreation, even though commuting for long hours on the road impose much strain on them.

57The Lagos State government has experimented with various strategies for traffic decongestion to no avail. The most celebrated was the odd-and-even-number policy introduced in 1977. This required owners of vehicles with licence plates starting with even numbers to stay off the roads leading to the Island on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, on which days their counterparts with odd numbers could ply the roads. Conversely, vehicles with licence plates starting with odd numbers were required to stay off the same roads on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The policy applied to working days (Monday to Friday) only and exempted taxis as well as government and diplomatic vehicles. This ingenious policy did reduce traffic, because violators were fined on the spot. However, Lagosians simply circumvented it by acquiring cars with odd and even plate numbers!

58Another strategy for traffic reduction, introduced in late 1978, was the “park-and-ride” scheme. This required owners of cars to park their vehicles at designated car parks and commute the rest of the journey by bus. It was designed to relieve traffic congestion in the Central Business District on Lagos Island. The service covered the routes between the National Arts Theatre at Iganmu, where a special car park was provided, and the Race Course, and from Idumota to the Race Course. The commuters were charged a fare of thirty kobo per trip, and they paid the same amount as a parking fee. Not only was there not enough parking space on the congested island, the shuttle service, with its air-conditioned buses, rapidly collapsed as the air-conditioners fell into disuse and the shuttle service inflicted great inconvenience on its patrons.

59The strict enforcement of the ban on the obstruction of traffic on the Island caused by parking in unauthorized places, especially around the Marina and Broad Street, became pronounced from the 1990s. However, the use of strong-arm tactics to arrest drivers and impound vehicles which (deliberately or otherwise) obstructed traffic on the island also rapidly turned into an avenue of crude extortion and oppression. Rehabilitated miscreants known as “area boys”, who were employed to apprehend offenders simply resorted to sheer gangsterism in hauling in and towing vehicles at the slightest opportunity. Their aim was to extort bribes from “offenders” equivalent to a significant proportion of the heavy fine, for which there was no possibility of a reprieve.

60The above discussion of aspects of urban transport in Lagos since the colonial period has demonstrated the importance of the part played by private sector operators; it has also demonstrated the perennial failure of state-owned enterprises: rail, ferry and bus services. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, private operators have not been able to cope with the demand, and this merely confirms the urgent need for a real mass transit facility for Lagos. The city is the only one of its size anywhere in the world without a functional urban mass transit facility, such as a metroline, surface or underground. The best chance appears to have been missed in the oil boom years. However, it is still a feasible proposition, although the cost has escalated beyond the means of all but a consortium of wealthy and farsighted investors capable of enduring a long period of gestation before their investments earn them dividends. But such a prospect does not appear to be in sight for the near future. We now proceed to examine the complementary modes of transport in Lagos during this period.

Rail and Water Transport as Complementary Modes of Urban Transport in Lagos

  • 72 Peil, Ugos. p. 177.
  • 73 Adefolalu, “Intra-Urban Transport Services in Lagos,” pp. 107-108

61Lagos has also been served by other modes of transport, though these carry far fewer commuters than motor transport. Although the tramway had ceased to operate since 1933, the use of railways for mass transit in the metropolitan area persisted and survived into the post-independence period. Commuter trains ran from 4.30am till 7.30pm from Apapa and Iddo to Oshodi and Agege, a distance of between fourteen and twenty-two kilometers. Early morning trains were heavily patronized by market women and school children for their speed and relatively low fares compared to the buses.72 The urban railway service was heavily subscribed by workers living in Mushin, Oshodi, Agege and Ikeja, for whom it was the cheapest means of getting to the Island. However, it was originally conceived in the 1950s as a means of easing problems faced by railway workers while commuting to the Yaba, Ebute Metta, Iddo and Apapa sections of the railway. Hence, the commuter train service was known as “Workers’ Train”. This became a misnomer as the clientele of the service expanded to include women (especially women traders) and school children. By the early 1980s, the commuter service consisted of eleven up-trains and eleven down-trains, totalling twenty-two trains on duty during the working hours. The Iddo-Agege, Iddo-Oshodi and Apapa-Agege services operated daily in both directions while the rest operated from Monday to Friday or to Saturday. The early trains took workers and school children to Lagos while subsequent ones conveyed the general public, especially market women. Fares ranged from fifteen kobo (Apapa-Oshodi and Iddo-Oshodi) to twenty kobo (Apapa-Agege). Although each train had a passenger capacity of between 100 and 200 persons, it actually carried more passengers.73

62The table below indicates the volume of passenger traffic handled at the respective suburban stations on the Lagos mainland. It is clear that four stations – Mushin, Apapa, Ebute Metta Junction and Agege – accounted for nearly seventy percent (5.9 million) of a total of 8,616,568 passengers for the entire period. This indicates the areas with the greatest concentration of rail commuters, invariably low-income workers. It can also be stated that the train service drew more of such people to the aforementioned areas, which consequently experienced a phenomenal population growth. The rail statistics also confirm that the vast majority of Lagosians live far away from their work places.

TABLE 4.4: PASSENGER TRAFFIC OF RAILWAY STATIONS BETWEEN APAPA AND AGEGE, 1951-61

TABLE 4.4: PASSENGER TRAFFIC OF RAILWAY STATIONS BETWEEN APAPA AND AGEGE, 1951-61

Source: Compiled from Nigeria Railway Annual Reports for the respective years, Appendix Ill-6 in Koenigsberger et al. Metropolitan Lagos,pp. 106-109.

  • 74 Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 193.
  • 75 Ibid.

63The pricing policy of the railway favoured goods services to attract traffic. By 1970, special tickets for workers as regular commuters enabled them to pay rates which approximated some 34 shillings per month (for commuters bound for the Apapa Industrial complex) compared to the normal rail or bus fare of 52 shillings.74 The early morning train service of this era was described as “much more comfortable”, and less risky and unsettling than the “risk and rough struggle characteristic of the morning rush hour to take buses.”75 This passenger train service also had the effect of encouraging the movement of low-income earners into the Agege and Oshodi areas, resulting in the massive expansion of those originally suburban settlements into an extension of the metropolis. An idea of the suburban passenger traffic in the mid-1960s is conveyed in Table 4.5.

  • 76 Information on this subject was obtained from serving and retired staff of the NRC.

64However, the passenger service, like the overall performance of the NRC, soon became irregular because of the crises which assailed the N.R.C. from the early 1980s to the 1990s.76 The passenger train service received a boost in the early 1990s when the then military dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida, launched refurbished coaches. The passenger trains (local and limited) still run up to the present time, but the service is far from regular, efficient or satisfactory. Given the scope for evasion by some passengers, the volume of the passenger traffic is not known precisely.

TABLE 4.5: LAGOS SUBURBAN RAILWAY PASSENGER TRAFFIC. 1965-66

TABLE 4.5: LAGOS SUBURBAN RAILWAY PASSENGER TRAFFIC. 1965-66
  • 1 Note: Figures in bracket refer to fares normally charged to and fro, for 26 working days, excluding (...)

Note *1
Source: Adapted from Nigerian Railway Corporation, Report and Account for the year ended 31st March 1966, Table 3 in Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 194.

65However, it is fair to admit that the trains are always filled to capacity whenever they run and that (as indicated in the table below) a considerable number of commuters patronize the service.

TABLE 4.6: LAGOS URBAN RAIL TRANSIT SERVICE, 1991

TABLE 4.6: LAGOS URBAN RAIL TRANSIT SERVICE, 1991

Source: Tunji Bolade, “Long-Range Plans for the Development of Urban Mass Transit in Nigeria,” in S.G. Ikya (ed.), Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, p. 68, Table 3.4.

66The problem of the railway passenger service merely reflects the complicated crisis of the entire NRC in spite of the intervention of Chinese and Indian experts, who were contracted to manage the corporation in the 1980s and 1990s. Serving and retired employees of the NRC have expressed divergent views on the performance of the expatriates. The consensus is that the Indians had a more positive impact: the engines imported from China during the Abacha era (1993-98) hardly survived beyond a few months. There is, however, a general agreement that conditions have improved since 1999, though these have only made a minor dent on a long tradition of neglect and mismanagement.

  • 77 Lagos State Handbook 1987, p. 104.

67Ferry services have also been revitalized to take advantage of the enormous potential of water transport in Lagos. They were run at various times by the Inland Waterways Division of the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Lagos State Transport Corporation and private operators. Apart from the Mile 2 Jetty owned by the Lagos State government, from which it operates a ferry service between Mile 2 and Marina, other jetties are the property of the Federal Inland Waterways and other Federal agencies. Other jetties in the metropolitan area are located at Oyingbo, the Federal Secretariat, Maroko/Lekki, Marina, Apapa and Tarkwa Bay.77 An idea of the traffic in the early 1960s is conveyed in the following (Table 4.7).

  • 78 Peil, Lagos, p. 177.

68The Lagos State Government of Governor Lateef Jakande (1979-83) acquired two 800-passenger ferries which made sixteen round trips every day. The LSTC ferry service between Mile 2 and the Marina charged thirty kobo for an hour’s trip. The service conveyed over a hundred thousand passengers per month in the late 1980s. However, because of the low fares, the enterprise could not survive notwithstanding the volume of passengers.78 Its predicament was worsened by a fire incident in April 1984 which damaged two ferry boats. The ferries, however, resumed operations in October after undergoing repairs for six months. The service conveyed 206,000 passengers in the six months in which it operated in 1984, 125,000 passengers in 1985 and an average of 10,000 passengers per month in 1986.

TABLE 4.7: LAGOS-APAPA FERRY PASSENGER TRAFFIC, 1960-61

TABLE 4.7: LAGOS-APAPA FERRY PASSENGER TRAFFIC, 1960-61

Source: Ministry of Transport and Aviation, 29 June 1962, cited in Koenigsberger et al., Metropolitan Lagos, New York: United Nations Technical Assistance, 1964, p. 121.
Note: Fares: Id for early morning, 2d rest of day, one way.

  • 79 Lagos State Handbook 1987, pp. 103-104.

69The declining patronage has been ascribed to the following factors: commuters’ waning interest after the initial curiousity about “a new and unique venture” which the ferry service represented to many; the psychological trauma of the fire incidents; the increase in the fare in 1985; the prevailing economic slump; and improvement in the road traffic flow from Mile 2 to Lagos.79

70In the subsequent era, the Lagos State Government and the I.W.D. have managed to maintain a skeletal service, as indicated in the table below for 1992. Although the figures are at best approximate, it can be seen that the Marina-Mile 2 and Marina-Apapa routes were favoured in terms of the provision of vessels. The figures also suggest that the service was underutilized, compared to the road traffic, a trend that persists to date.

TABLE 4.8: FERRY SERVICES IN LAGOS c.1992

TABLE 4.8: FERRY SERVICES IN LAGOS c.1992

Source: A. A. Abubakar, “Evolution of Ferry Services in Mass Transit,” in S.G. Ikya (ed.), Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, pp. 262-263, Tables 14.2 and 14.3.

“Tokunbo,” “Kabukabu” and “Okada”: Developments in Urban Mass Transit in Lagos Since the 1980s and the Menace of Traffic Congestion

  • 80 This section is based on fieldwork, on the author’s personal experience, and on Peil, Lagos, p.182.

71During the mid-1980s, the onset of structural adjustment policies, the accompanying devaluation of the naira, and the liberalization of import controls permitted a massive importation of used vehicles from Europe.80 This has boosted the commercial motor transport business in Lagos by making more vehicles available to commuters. The exact number of buses and cabs operating in Lagos is unknown, especially as unlicensed operators, known as “kabukabu”, have increased in number over the years. The operators of unlicensed taxis and buses are often retrenched staff who have decided to commercialize their personal vehicles; also included are employed persons seeking additional income. The former are better organized and ply on a regular basis, whereas the latter operate on the way to and from work, or after office hours. Although their activities are illegal, they manage to operate (particularly at night and off regular routes) with the connivance of the law enforcement agents and the tacit support of desperate commuters. Even so, there is evidence that at critical points, such as during the rush hour or after a heavy rain, there is still a gap between supply and demand, as demonstrated by the number of commuters stranded at the bus stops. Only a genuine mass transit system, such as that provided by an efficient urban railway service, can bridge this gap.

72The Federal Military Government of General Ibrahim Babangida intervened in the chaotic public transit sector by launching the Federal Urban Mass Transit Programme (FUMTP) in 1988. The FUMTP was aimed at achieving the following objectives:

  1. Planning and advising on the implementation of the FUMTP at the federal and state levels.

  2. Providing financial, technical and project assistance to mass transit agencies at the federal and state levels, in addition to labour unions and commercial transport operators.

    • 81 Tunji Bolade, “Long Range Plans for the Development of Urban Mass Transit in Nigeria,” in S.G. Ikya (...)

    Developing and issuing operating guidelines and private manpower training for the aforementioned operators.81

  • 82 Dele Olowu, Lagos State: Governance, Society and Economy, Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd., 1990, p.63.

73The Federal Government committed some N800-900 million to the programme with which it assisted state governments and other stakeholders in the sector. Lagos State, for example, received 60 Nissan buses on favourable loan terms, and these were handed over to the LSTC. However, as already indicated above, this was a mere drop of water in the sea of demand for urban mass transit facilities in Lagos. In any case, the buses were not well managed or maintained and the transport system was rapidly liquidated. “The two major problems plaguing the bus service,” it has been asserted, “were the lack of spare-parts and the dishonesty and laziness on the part of the staff. New buses were costly while cheaper second-hand buses … often broke down with no one to maintain them.”82

  • 83 Moses Ogunleye, “Coping with the Transportation Problems of Metropolitan Lagos,” in Bola Bolawole ( (...)

74From the early 1990s to date, there has been an upsurge of motorcycle transport in Lagos. First, the military administration of Muhammed Buba Marwa (Governor of Lagos, 1996-99) introduced the tricycles popularly called “Keke Marwa” (Marwa’s cycles). The scheme was inaugurated with five hundred units of the tricycles, which were distributed to prospective operators at a cost of N250, 000 per unit. Each participant deposited N40, 000 and paid the balance in monthly instalments of N-12, 000.83 This mode of transport is not popular and only comparatively few of the tricycles operate in the metropolis where they are, in any case, limited to certain routes. Second, far more popular and better patronized are motorcycles (called “okada” in Lagos). These were initially limited to the outskirts of the city: Ikotun, Egbe and Ipaja. But they have now become ubiquitous all over the city, even in the traditional upper class neighbourhoods of Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Unfortunately, many of the operators are incompetent, reckless and unruly and, therefore, pose a threat to commuters and other road-users.

  • 84 Francis lamoroti, “Okada riders drag Lagos to court.” The PUNCH, 14 August 2002. p.5.

75Accordingly, efforts were made to regulate the operations of “okada” cyclists. The state government invoked the Central Licensing Authority Law, 1994 and Edict No. 8 of 1995 with suitable amendments to compel “okada” operators to subject their cycles to roadworthiness tests twice a year and to obtain an annual hackney permit for N1.200. In addition, the operators and their passengers were to wear crash helmets, and there should not be more than one passenger at a time. These regulatory measures met with stiff resistance in spite of the one-month grace given to the “okada” operators prior to their full implementation on 1 August 2002. The cyclists complained that they could not afford to pay annual charges of up to N 15,000 and, while agreeing to wear crash helmets, contended that asking passengers to share a helmet was likely to aid the spread of contagious diseases. They went further by instituting legal action against the state government to stop it from compelling their cycles to undergo the mandatory roadworthiness test and to obtain hackney permits.84

  • 85 Horatio Egua. “Lagosians back govt directives over okada riders.” The PUNCH. 12 August 2002, p.5

76Most Lagosians deplored the excesses of the motorcycle operators and supported the state government’s bid to regulate the operations of the cyclists.85 However, others considered the state government’s measures extortionate. In an editorial on the subject, a Lagos newspaper stated:

  • 86 “Regulating Okada in Lagos,” The Punch, 16 August 2002, p.14

For obvious reasons, the … regulations have our full backing. The vast majority of the cyclists have for long become a serious menace to other road users in the state, although the usefulness of their services to members of the public is not in doubt. These accidents are likely to be less frequent and fatal if the riders and their passengers comply strictly with traffic regulations. Our fear, nevertheless, is that the state government may already be inadvertently turning this laudable policy into an avenue for unscrupulous officials to fleece the poor riders …86

77The newspaper enjoined the government to decentralize the process of revenue collection to discourage congestion and the attendant extortion of applicants desperate for permits. It also demanded that an enlightenment campaign should be undertaken through the mass media to change the reckless attitude of the cyclists to road safety.

  • 87 Reported in The Punch, 20 June 2002, p. 5.

78The state government was compelled to back down and the okada riders seem to have laughed last, for they continue to operate without any regard for traffic regulations or the sensibilities of other road users. The Governor of Lagos State himself was constrained to admit that there was no immediate substitute for the okada; but he assured the populace that “an alternative transport system” would be evolved to salvage the situation.87 Many thought that he was determined to revive the metroline project once planned for the city in the 1980s, but he would appear to be contemplating building a light railway system between Mile 2 and Okokomaiko. While the idea is appealing on grounds of cost, it is curious that the line will serve an admittedly densely populated area which, however, is not the most strategic in the metropolitan area.

Notes

1 Nigerian Pioneer, 25 June and 29 October 1920.

2 Nigerian Pioneer, 18 January 1921.

3 NAI, Comcol 1 1278 “Opening of Carter Bridge,” Port Engineer to Governor, Lagos, 23 October 1931.

4 Ibid.

5 NAI, CSO 26 0627 vol. I, LTC Annual Report, 1921, p.22, para. 47.

6 NAI, CSO 26 06276 vol. I, LTC Annual Report, 1921, p. 2; Annual Report, 1922, p. 2.

7 NAI, CSO 1/1/27, Gov. to Chamberlain, 28 August 1899.

8 Ibid.

9 LTC, Annual Report, 1921. p. 16.

10 P.O. Sada and A.A. Adefolalu, “Urbanisation and Problems of Urban Development.” in A.B. Aderibigbe (ed.), L1GOS: The Development of an African City. Lagos: Longman. 1975. pp. 97-98.

11 Detailed in NAI, CSO 26 09653 vols. I –VI, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service.”

12 Ibid, Director of Marine to Sec, Southern Provinces, Lagos, 21 May 1919.

13 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG, 10 July 1923.

14 CSO 26 09653, vol. II. Sec. of State to OAG. Nigeria, 14 Ju1y 1924.

15 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG. 11 August 1925.

16 CSO 26 09653, vol. IV, Sec. of State to Crown Agents, 31 May 1926

17 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG 31 January 1927; Ibid, CSG to Lagos Chamber of Commerce. 7 March 1927.

18 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG. 23 August 1928: Director of Marine to CSG, 14 November 1929.

19 Ibid. Director of Marine to CSG, 14 November 1929: CSG to Director of Marine. 4 December 1929.

20 Ibid, CSG to Director of Marine. 22 April 1933.

21 CSO 26 09653, vol. V, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” Director of Marine to CSG. 28 November 1934; Gazette Notice by Director of Marine, 8 December 1934.

22 Ibid, Director of Marine to CSG, 12 February 1935 and 6 June 1935.

23 Ibid, Director of Marine to Financial Sec, Lagos, 24 February 1943.

24 NAI, Comcol 1 2567 “Lagoon Ferry Services,” Director of Marine to Comcol, 17 July 1945.

25 Ibid, Director of Marine to All Government Departments, 12 August 1949.

26 A A. Abubakar, “Evolution of Ferry Services in Mass Transit,” in S. G. Ikya (ed.). Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, pp. 258-259.

27 The discussion on W.A. Dawodu is based on the following sources: A.G. Hopkins, “An Economic History of Lagos, 1880-1914” (Ph. D Thesis, University of London, 1964), pp. 370-72; A.G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa, Longman, 1973, p. 196; Commemorative Brochure by the Mabinuori Dawodu Family; and author’s interview with Alhaji R.O. Dawodu in Lagos and Ibadan; and Madam Ibitola Dawodu, Molete, Ibadan, in 1988.

28 The discussion on Mrs Obasa is based on the account in G.O. Olusanya, “Charlotte Olajumoke Obasa,” in Bolanle Awe (ed.), Nigerian Women in Historical Perspective, Ibadan: Sankore/Bookcraft, 1992, pp. 105-120.

29 Ibid, p. 112.

30 Details in Ayodeji Olukoju, “Population Pressure, Housing and Sanitation in West Africa’s Premier Port-City: Lagos, 1900-1939,” The Great Circle: Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History, vol. 15, no. 2 (1993), pp. 91-106.

31 NAI, Comcol 1 412, “Motor Transport Service (Lagos) Electrical Trackless Bus,” Commissioner For Lands to ADCOL., 12 April 1928.

32 NAI, Comcol 1412, Commissioner For Lands to ADCOL., 29 October 1928.

33 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, “J.N. Zarpas & Co Bus Service in Lagos Municipality,” Zarpas to CSG, 28 August 1933.

34 Ibid.

35 An example of protectionist legislation is Ayodeji Olukoju, ‘Slamming the “Open Door:” British Protectionist Fiscal Policy in Inter-War Nigeria,’ Itinerario: European Journal of Overseas History, vol. 23, no.2 (1999), pp. 13-28.

36 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, President, LTC.to CSG, 5 September 1933.

37 NAI, Comcol 1 1550, CSG to COMCOL, 12 September 1933.

38 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos,” Minute by Town Clerk, 22 March 1945.

39 The wartime economy is analyzed in Ayodeji Olukoju, ‘“Buy British, Sell Foreign:” External Trade Control Policies in Nigeria During the Second World War and Its Aftermath,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 35, no. 2 (2002).

40 For cost of living in Lagos during this period, see Ayodeji Olukoju, “The Cost of Living in Lagos, 1914-45,” in David Anderson and Richard Rathbone (eds.), Africa’s Urban Past, Oxford: James Currey, 2000, pp. 126-143.

41 NAI, Comcol 1, 1550, Zarpas to President. LTC, 8 January 1942.

42 NAI,Comcoll 1562, vol. I, “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos”, E.O. Omolodun to COMCOL, 14 March 1945.

43 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, Minute from Town Clerk to President, LTC, 22 March 1945

44 Ibid.

45 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. I, Ikorodu Transport Service to Town Clerk, LTC, 26 August 1947.

46 NAI, Comcol 11562, vol. 1, A Shoetan to Town Clerk, 8 September 1948.

47 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. II, Minute by Deputy Commissioner, 12 January 1950.

48 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. III, Acting Town Clerk to Deputy COMCOL. 18 January 1950.

49 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. III, Acting Town Clerk to COMCOL, 5 August 1950.

50 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, Elyas Transport Service to COMCOL, 6 January 1951.

51 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, VIO Motor Traffic Unit, Minute, 22 November 1950.

52 NAI, Comcol 1 1562, vol. IV, Municipal Treasurer to all bus operators, 9 May 1952.

53 P. Ukerehezu, “Remove the Ban,” West African Pilot, 23 June 1955.

54 Comcol 1 1562, vol. V, Manager, Modern Transport & Allied Services to Municipal Treasurer, 16 January 1956.

55 P.O. Sada, “Political Policies and the Development of Transportation in Metropolitan Lagos,” NJESS, vol. 12 (July 1970), p. 193.

56 Daily Service (Lagos), 21 October 1950, editorial: “Lagos Bumpy Roads.” For attempts to deal with reckless driving in Lagos, see Comcol 1 474/S.3 “Motor Accidents – Control of.”

57 West African Pilot (Lagos), 29 August 1956, editorial: “LTC Road Policy.”

58 Comcol 1 206 vol. IIA, “Roads in Lagos Township,” D.M.O. Akinbiyi, Town Clerk, LTC to Chief Sec. of the Federation, 16 July 1957.

59 NAI, Comcol 1 206 vol. IIB, Ag. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works to Chief Sec. of the Federation, 19 October 1956.

60 NAI, Comcol 1 206 vol. IIA, Town Clerk to Permanent Sec., Ministry of Works, Lagos, 16 July 1957.

61 Daily Service, 9 July 1957, editorial: “What Next;” 10 July 1947, editorial: “Who is Responsible?;” 7 August 1947, editorial: “A Death Trap”; Daily Times (Lagos), 8 August 1947, editorial: “One Way Traffic.”

62 RO. Sada, “Political Policies and the Development of Transportation in Metropolitan Lagos,” NJESS, vol. 12 (July 1970), p. 193.

63 O. Koenigsberger, Charles Abrams, Michael Wheeler, Susume Kobe, and Maurice Shapiro, Metropolitan Lagos, New York: United Nations Commission for Technical Assistance, 1964, p. 71.

64 Margaret Peil, Lagos: The City is the People, London: Belhaven Press, 1991, p. 180.

65 The etymology of “Molue” and “Danfo” is enmeshed in controversy. A source (Mr. S.K. Bajo) claims that both refer respectively to the names of two policemen who were a terror to the drivers of those buses. Alternative sources have tried to derive “molue” from “mould” (with reference to the construction of the body of the vehicle) or from “maul”, which connotes the aggressiveness of its drivers. “Danfo” or “dafo”. according to some sources, was derived from the tendency for commuters to sit separately, hence the expression “danfo gedegbe” (“alone” or “unattached.”) “Molue“ and “danfo” have featured in the music of Adeolu Akinsanya and Ayinla Omowura, legendary folk musicians of the Yoruba. A scholarly exploration of the world of taxi drivers is Olatunde Bayo Lawuyi, “The World of the Yoruba Taxi Driver: An Interpretive Approach to Vehicle Slogans,” Africa, vol. 58, no.l (1988), pp.1-13.

66 Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 195.

67 Peil, Lagos, p. 181.

68 This and subsequent paragraphs are based on interviews with a senior official of L.I.T.A. and Henry Olajide Dixon, former staff of Zarpas.

69 Information on the construction of Lagos roads and bridges was obtained from Peil, Lagos; and Lagos State Government, Lagos State Handbook 1987, Ikeja: Ministry of Information, 1987.

70 The discussion here is based on fieldwork and personal experience in Lagos. The following description of the condition of commercial vehicles on Lagos roads is worth quoting at length for its timelessness: “Vehicle brakes are often faulty; some of the seats have lost their back rest leaving only the metal frames that used to hold them; engines are often smoky, the roofs of some buses leak in rainy weather; vehicle bodies are rickety and dirty; and most of the buses are often frightfully overcrowded.” See, A. A. Adefolalu, “Intra-Urban Transport Services in Lagos,” in D.A. Oyeleye (ed.), Spatial Expansion and Concomitant Problems in the Lagos Metropolitan Area (An Example of a Rapidly Urbanizing Area), Lagos: Department of Geography, University of Lagos, 1981, p. 113.

71 Peil, Lagos, p. 179. Writing in 1981, Adefolalu, “Intra-Urban Transport Services in Lagos,” p. 114, notes that “although the [bus] drivers observe an unwritten code among themselves as well as a ‘modus operandi,’ they are a law to themselves on the road.” On traffic congestion in the city, see A. A. Adefolalu, “Traffic Congestion in the City of Lagos,” Nigerian Geographical Journal, vol. 20, no.2 (Dec. 1977), pp. 123-143.

72 Peil, Ugos. p. 177.

73 Adefolalu, “Intra-Urban Transport Services in Lagos,” pp. 107-108

74 Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 193.

75 Ibid.

76 Information on this subject was obtained from serving and retired staff of the NRC.

77 Lagos State Handbook 1987, p. 104.

78 Peil, Lagos, p. 177.

79 Lagos State Handbook 1987, pp. 103-104.

80 This section is based on fieldwork, on the author’s personal experience, and on Peil, Lagos, p.182.

81 Tunji Bolade, “Long Range Plans for the Development of Urban Mass Transit in Nigeria,” in S.G. Ikya (ed.). Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, p. 55.

82 Dele Olowu, Lagos State: Governance, Society and Economy, Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd., 1990, p.63.

83 Moses Ogunleye, “Coping with the Transportation Problems of Metropolitan Lagos,” in Bola Bolawole (ed.), Stale Administration and the Challenges of the 21st Century: A Case Study of the Marwa Years in Lagos State: 1996-1999, Lagos: Double Bee Enterprises. 1999, p. 192.

84 Francis lamoroti, “Okada riders drag Lagos to court.” The PUNCH, 14 August 2002. p.5.

85 Horatio Egua. “Lagosians back govt directives over okada riders.” The PUNCH. 12 August 2002, p.5

86 “Regulating Okada in Lagos,” The Punch, 16 August 2002, p.14

87 Reported in The Punch, 20 June 2002, p. 5.

Notes de fin

1 Note: Figures in bracket refer to fares normally charged to and fro, for 26 working days, excluding four Sundays, in a month.

Table des illustrations

Titre TABLE 4.1: STATISTICS OF OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1926-32
Légende Source: NAI, CSO 26 09653 vol. IV, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” Director of Marine to CSG 27 April 1933.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 13k
Titre TABLE 4.2: OPERATIONS OF THE LAGOS-APAPA FERRY SERVICE, 1939-43
Légende Source: NAI, CSO 26 09653 vol. V, “Lagos-Apapa Ferry Service,” enc.Note: n.a (not available)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 10k
Titre TABLE 4.3: LIST OF OPERATORS ON THE LAGOS-AGEGE ROUTE IN 1949
Légende Source: National Archives, Ibadan (NAI), Comcol 1 1562 vol. I “Omnibus Traffic in Lagos,” Municipal Treasurer to Commissioner of the Colony, 28 January 1949.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 13k
Titre TABLE 4.4: PASSENGER TRAFFIC OF RAILWAY STATIONS BETWEEN APAPA AND AGEGE, 1951-61
Légende Source: Compiled from Nigeria Railway Annual Reports for the respective years, Appendix Ill-6 in Koenigsberger et al. Metropolitan Lagos,pp. 106-109.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 19k
Titre TABLE 4.5: LAGOS SUBURBAN RAILWAY PASSENGER TRAFFIC. 1965-66
Légende Note *1Source: Adapted from Nigerian Railway Corporation, Report and Account for the year ended 31st March 1966, Table 3 in Sada, “Political Policies,” p. 194.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 16k
Titre TABLE 4.6: LAGOS URBAN RAIL TRANSIT SERVICE, 1991
Légende Source: Tunji Bolade, “Long-Range Plans for the Development of Urban Mass Transit in Nigeria,” in S.G. Ikya (ed.), Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, p. 68, Table 3.4.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 16k
Titre TABLE 4.7: LAGOS-APAPA FERRY PASSENGER TRAFFIC, 1960-61
Légende Source: Ministry of Transport and Aviation, 29 June 1962, cited in Koenigsberger et al., Metropolitan Lagos, New York: United Nations Technical Assistance, 1964, p. 121.Note: Fares: Id for early morning, 2d rest of day, one way.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 17k
Titre TABLE 4.8: FERRY SERVICES IN LAGOS c.1992
Légende Source: A. A. Abubakar, “Evolution of Ferry Services in Mass Transit,” in S.G. Ikya (ed.), Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Ibadan: Heinemann, 1993, pp. 262-263, Tables 14.2 and 14.3.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifra/docannexe/image/831/img-8.png
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