SHAME OF A CITY: Why Lagos ranks worse than Karachi, Baghdad, Kabul


Nigerians, especially Lagosians, do not need anyone to tell them how stressful it is to live in Lagos State.

The ranking of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub last Thursday by VAAY.com, a German firm, as the second most stressful city in the world, behind Mumbai, India, therefore, did not come as a surprise.

You’d be surprised that people who are familiar with the suffocating nature of Lagos would rank it the number one most stressful part of the planet earth.

If in doubt, try areas such as Alimosho, Mushin, Ajegunle, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Jakande, Iba Estate, etc or just anywhere within the city where there are buildings Lagosians call ‘face me, I face you’ or ‘face me, I slap you’, when generators are on due to power outage.

You’ll understand the meaning of pure madness! You may also wish to taste how crazy living in Eko can be by venturing out on a rainy day. The choky gridlocks due to flooding and bad roads will make you want to break down in tears like a baby.

READ ALSO: Lagos loses $2.1bn to environmental pollution
Well, the result released according to VAAY.com’s 2021 Least and Most Stressful Cities Index, which compares and analyses 100 global cities for indicators related to stress, considered safety and security, population density, socio-political stability, air, light, and noise pollution levels, as well as the traffic congestion and weather conditions, as factors that gave rise to the list released.

Those of us residing in Lagos can tell our story better; the ranking is incontrovertible!

I remember attending one of Pakistan’s National Day celebrations some years ago in Lagos. All through the occasion, I discovered how much they avoided body contacts.

The hall was filled up which meant it was common for attendees to bump into one another, but the Pakistanis were so jerky. When I enquired why they were that jumpy, I was told that high level of terrorism had made terrible impact on them such that they regarded anybody as potential suicide bomber.

Yet, Lagos ranked worse than Karachi (Pakistan), Baghdad (Iraq) and Kabul (Afghanistan); places most of us dread travelling to, due to their history of war and terrorism. Notably, in all of Africa, only Lagos, Nigeria is on the list of ten most stressful cities while no African city made the top ten least stressful cities. It’s really a shame!

The lingering Apapa gridlock has proved to be beyond remedy although many wonder how authorities managed to clear the road during President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to the state.

Just few days ago, a Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, tanker exploded along Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way, killing people, injuring many and destroying not less than 25 vehicles. Sadly, this is not the first of such explosion in the state.

While it is clear about how much the inhabitants of Lagos suffer from the consequences of air pollution as a result of rickety vehicles, dirty/blocked drainages and refuse dumps, not many understand how pernicious noise pollution can also be to health.

I visited a particular section of grinding machine operators at Sabo market, Ikorodu last week, and concluded that the operators may likely become deaf or develop hearing problems in the nearest future.

They were practically communicating through crude sign language because of the crazy sound of multiple machines. And you’d want to ask, what happened to research and technology? Is there no way the noise could be reduced?

You’d also discover that loud speakers indicating availability of music recording shops are just by the corner, contributing to the noise menace.

Despite the fact that more youth are still trooping into Lagos in search of means of livelihood, the standard of living of most Lagosians is relatively low.

Spike in Unemployment keeps encouraging mass exodus of youth seeking livelihood into cities, and Lagos has been a most desirable destination for them. Unfortunately, many reside under the bridge all in the name of living in Eko! Poverty everyone knows, fuels crime, so no need wondering how most of them survive.

The city is congested and lost like it has lost its elasticity; it’s at a bursting point with attendant violence precipitated by cult activities, petty and armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists as well as fraudsters.

Few weeks ago, some Lagosians had their vehicle windscreens smashed and valuables stolen by robbers in broad daylight on Mile 12 bridge. That’s how bold criminals have become knowing there was no security insight.

Also, most workers who leave home early in the morning to beat heavy traffic on the roads usually have horrific tales to tell about attacks by armed robbers.

Don’t get it wrong; some cities in other states are also chaotic but Lagos is quite incomparable. People are developing high blood pressure on daily basis without knowing it while many who are aware, lack fund to take proper care of their health, hence many slump or die in their sleep.

The menace of Okoda on the streets of Lagos has led many to untimely death. Riders from all over the country where they have been banned now find home in Lagos. At the slightest provocation, people ‘draw swords’ against one another; a chain reaction depicting a completely stressed-up life.

A large number of People especially the youth are coming down with mental health challenges due to frustration while a good number of them are high on drugs and are either begging or stealing to ‘survive’.

Added to menace of bad eggs in police force who extort commuters and, hoodlums terrorising both citizens and motorists resulting in hike in transport fare, is the fear of killer Fulani invaders.

Schools around Gberigbe axis had to shut down before 11am sometime early this month following news of the presence of the marauders. Since then, people in the area live in fear.

For the umpteenth time, Lagos state government has placed a ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada, without enforcement.

Rather than the number of Okada riders reducing, its experiencing an astronomical increase due unemployment and, insurgency and ban on commercial motorcycles in some Northern states.

Granted that the First and Last Mile buses, FLM, which the Lagos State government unveiled as a means designed to weed out commercial motorcycles, on Lagos roads, have begun operation, it is crystal clear that most Lagosians still prefer Okada to the buses due to heavy traffic still paralysing vehicular movements.

Ironically, the Okada riders’ flagrant flouting of traffic rules which has resulted in avoidable accidents with attendant consequences on human life, and of course, tankers and container carrying trucks indiscriminately parked on the roads, are major contributors to gridlocks in the state.

Kano state for instance, which has long banned Okada is experiencing some level of sanity according to recent visitors to the state. Lagos can do same!

Aside contributing to gridlocks, commercial motorcycles are easy get away for criminals. On June 19, 2021, a Radio presenter, Titus Badejo was said to have been shot dead by two masked-men on motorbike. Note that his killers got away easily on Okada.

It’s obvious that as long as insurgency endures in the Northern Nigeria and, governments of other Southern states fail to develop their states, their labour force will keep migrating to Lagos and compounding its problems.

Above all, if the federal government of Nigeria does not reconsider its deliberate refusal to decentralise seaports, the congestion in Lagos will only get worse.

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