For years, experienced Lagosians have adopted several measures to beat the city’s hectic traffic congestion. Some of these strategies, like leaving home as early as 4am and delaying the homeward trip till 10pm, just do not work for wives, mothers and some others. Here are some ideas that might work for you.
Lagos traffic congestion is almost as old as Lagos itself. Many reasons have been adduced and solutions proffered. The fact however, is that as long as Lagos remains the bustling business center it is today, it will continue to be an attractive destination for many people within and outside Nigeria. As the middle class continues to emerge and new millionaires are made, more cars will demand space on our roads.
So, I would say don’t hold your breath waiting for the days of significant decongestion. The best response is to brace yourself and adopt measures that minimize the negative impact of Lagos traffic on your life. Here are some ideas.
Information is probably the most important factor in navigating your way through Lagos traffic. Understand the traffic patterns on your most frequently traveled routes. There are generally 3 traffic waves on Lagos roads – the morning rush to work, the afternoon after-school rush and the afternoon-evening rush from work. The specific timing and intensity of these waves depends on the direction of your movement and the condition of roads in your area, amongst other things. Oh, and don’t forget the Friday afternoon rush as muslims go to and from the mosques.
Emerging Traffic Information Sources
One of the greatest things that the Lagos State government has done towards reducing traffic congestion has been the establishment of Lagos Traffic Radio on 96.1 FM. You are encouraged to tune into this station at least occasionally to get traffic updates for your route. It might make the difference between getting stock and arriving your destination on time. They are also available on Twitter or phone – 08099120555.
Several other private initiatives have been launched recently to add to the pool and quality of traffic information. These include Twitter-based services like Gidi Traffic, Traffic Butter, Lagos Traffic, etc. You will find that some of them have frequent updates while others don’t.
Some mobile apps have also hit the market to enhance the user experience. Just search for “Lagos traffic” on your smart phone mobile store and generally keep your eyes and ears open. The technology is a evolving rapidly.
Leave Early, Return Late?
If you are a bachelor, a spinster a man or some other form of unencumbered specie, chances are you can afford to leave home before rush hour traffic builds and wait for it to ebb before you return. Depending on where you live, that may mean leaving as early as 4am and returning as late as 11pm.
That is fine if it works for you. Just remember to take adequate security measures to protect yourself on the road at those odd hours. It also means you have to figure out what to do with yourself when you arrive the office 2 hours early or after work. Some people catch up on lost sleep in their cars or some other place while waiting for the office doors to open and kill time at a favorite recreational spot while waiting for the right time to head home.
Leave Late, Return Early?
If you are a mother, with young children to get ready for school in the morning, help with homework in the evening, then feed and send to bed at night, the leave-early-return-late option is sure not for you.
Depending on the nature of your job, your position in the office hierarchy and the flexibility of your schedule, consider reporting for work a bit later (say 9am) and/or leaving a bit earlier (say 4pm). This will help you avoid the worst of the traffic both ways, but may require that you take work home in order to keep pace with your colleagues. You can then work for 1-2 hours after the kids have gone to bed and hubby’s dinner has been served.
Free Up Some Quality Time – Outsource Some Chores
In some areas of Lagos, with all the weddings and events going on, traffic on Saturdays is even worse that on week days, particularly on environmental sanitation days. Our surveys indicate that Lagos women spend an average of 2 hours in traffic going to and from the market on Saturdays. Those who make multiple stops (i.e. visit both traditional markets and malls) spend as much as 4 hours.
Two of my friends have taken a vow never to employ a domestic help. Given their experiences you just have to respect their choice. If you have taken a similar oath, you can still avoid Saturday traffic by outsourcing your shopping to one of several messenger/shopping services that are now available.
Or you can go a step further and free up even more quality time by ordering ready-to-eat meals and tasty treats in multi-server packs for the family. If you think that outsourcing may be too expensive for you, use our Cooking Cost Analysis Template to weigh your options, so you can take an informed based on valid data.