The Future History Of Lagos
Since the 1970s, Lagos has witnessed some of the most rapid urban population growth the world has ever seen. Even after losing its status as Nigeria’s capital in 1990, its physical growth has remained unrivalled in Africa, swallowing several border communities of neighbouring states and even expanding into the Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Alongside this journey into becoming a mega city and global hub have come several geographical changes and infrastructure projects that are changing the face of this city forever. Here is a look at some of the major changes and challenges that Lagos will be seeing in say, 2027.
Currently the only operational daily rail service in Lagos runs along the NRC’s narrow gauge line linking Lagos with Kano via a number of stops along the decades-old route. What this has meant is that the exploding volumes of passenger and cargo transport that come with increased population have been borne almost exclusively by the roads in Lagos. This is the reason for the permanent traffic logjam and poor road conditions around the city.
2 major rail lines under construction are set to change that within the next five years. The Lagos Light Rail Blue Line linking Okokomaiko with Marina and the Lagos – Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway are set to not only take substantial passenger and cargo volumes off the roads, but also affect everything from property valuations to future settlement patterns. The LLR Blue Line, which has been under construction since 2007 has reached an advanced stage of completion, with only the bridge linking Iddo to the Marina still under construction. After missing several construction deadlines, testing is tentatively set to begin late 2019, with the line opening to the public sometime in 2020.
This line will give commuters another way of reaching the Island CBD from the mainland, giving some much-needed relief to the only 3 existing Island-Mainland road links in Lagos. The construction is set to alter the physical appearance of Marina, Iddo and Ijora, with new bridges and road links to service the new train stops.
The Lagos – Ibadan SGR on the other hand, will give people an alternative to living in what is becoming an overcrowded city. Giving a throwback to when it was possible to live in Ibadan and commute to work in Lagos daily, the rail line will run at a maximum speed of 160km/h and also connect Abeokuta, once another popular commuter city. Preliminary construction work has begun, with the line projected to be completed by 2024.
Growth Of Satellite Town To Badagry Corridor
As the Blue Line inches toward completion, there is already a property speculation and development feeding frenzy underway along its Mainland route spanning Satellite Town to Okokomaiko, and even further beyond its last stop, up to the Seme international border in Badagry. The palpable excitement is because this corridor is set to become the first genuine commuter belt in Nigeria, and it still has a large stock of relatively cheap and undeveloped land available. The Lagos State government is also constructing a 10-lane highway concurrently and planning to integrate the bus and train stops with the overall LAMATA transport masterplan for Lagos. What this means in plain English is that in an area that is the last untouched area of Lagos State with lots of cheap land available, a world class transportation nexus is set to become active, bringing billions of Naira in property investment, trade, hospitality and infrastructure.
If the Lekki-Epe corridor was once the new frontier of Lagos,the Badagry Expressway corridor is now definitely positioned to take up that mantle and run with it for a much longer period.
For one thing, unlike the sandy, soft, unsuitable land that most of Lekki is built on with attendant issues like unusable borehole water, the Badagry corridor is mostly made up of dry, packed land perfect for building permanent structures and conventional roads. The sheer size of the available area up for development is also mouth-watering for those in the property business, with several developers scrambling to lay their claim to parcels of land for housing estates, retail establishments and waterfront hospitality developments. By 2027, the urban sprawl of Lagos will have reached its physical border with Benin Republic.
Rents And Property Valuation Continue Upward Trend
Despite the uptick in property supply that the building boom sparked by new transport infrastructure will cause, rental and sales valuations for property in ‘decongesting’ areas will not decrease. One major reason for this is that said decongestion is likely to be marginal. Realistically, there will not be a great migration of people from high density accommodation in Yaba to new builds in Ojo, just because there is now a shiny new rail link from there to the Island. The people who will make the switch are likely to first of all be those who can afford to buy their own property, taking advantage of comparatively cheap initial house prices in the newly opened up areas.
These are not the people who cause the blight of congestion in Lagos because as a group, they are maybe 1.5% of the city’s total population. The vast majority of daily commuters in Lagos are struggling renters who do not have the wherewithal to immediately pick up sticks and move across the city.
In addition the way property valuation is carried out in Lagos is very heavy on speculation and hope, as against actual value.It is unlikely that a landlord in Okoko close to a Blue Line station will offer a 2-bedroom flat for N200,000 while an equivalent in Yaba costs N400,000. Over and above all this, there is the fact that an estimated 80 people migrate into Lagos every hour, so regardless of any uptick in supply, it is unlikely to overturn the market balance which is firmly weighted in favour of excess demand.
The only way property prices can ever come down in Lagos is through a government intervention to construct and market subsidized housing, which will cool the market down. In the absence of this, prices will only continue trending upward.
3rd Mainland Bridge Will Still Be The Main Artery Of Lagos
37 years after being opened in 1990, 3rd Mainland Bridge will still be the main link between Island and Mainland in 2027. Despite the Blue Line linking the Mainland to Marina, the majority of the vehicular traffic commuting across this bridge daily will not reduce significantly. This is because the vast majority of the vehicles making the commute are private vehicles conveying upwardly mobile people who will always prefer to make use of their own private transportation regardless. Perhaps there will be a slight reduction in the volume of public transport buses plying the route as those commuters use the rail service instead, but this will barely make a dent into the amount of vehicular traffic on 3rd Mainland.
Lagos as a whole was built around its roads, not giving much allowance for large scale rail transport unlike New York or London, so until the 4th Mainland Bridge is constructed, 3rd Mainland Bridge will continue to be the most important route for people moving around Lagos everyday. At present, the prognosis for the 4th Mainland Bridge does not look great, with the state government yet to close on a financing arrangement. Even the most optimistic estimates put the project construction duration at about 7 years. When you compare that with 3rd Mainland, which took 11 years to complete despite being less than half the length of the proposed bridge, it does not look great.
Eko Atlantic will Exist Completely Parallel To The Chaos Of Lagos
Nestled in a comfortable cul-de-sac the size of Victoria Island off the coast of Lagos, Eko Atlantic will continue to rise out of the sand, populated almost exclusively by the super-rich and expatriates. Home to most of West Africa’s finance industry and blue chip business establishments, the city will be by far the most exclusive part of Lagos, with entre heavily restricted and regulated. Even now at an early stage of completion, entry into the city is heavily restricted, with the area given special autonomous status by the state government, including its own law enforcement, utilities and building codes.
Critics have contended that the location of the city at the mouth of Ahmadu Bello Way will cause an interminable traffic jam of vehicles coming in and going out on what is already an extremely busy and small thoroughfare. What they do not reckon with is that Eko Atlantic is not being built to be a part of ‘Lagos’ at all, and its developers have been very upfront about this. There has even been talk of giving new residents a special orientation program to teach them how to live and behave within the city limits. It is built to function as a completely self-sustaining entity with its own schools, hospitals, leisure establishments, hotels and heliports. This is not a new suburb of Lagos, but a new city in its own right, which just happens to have geographical proximity to Lagos.
In summation, Lagos will look very much like it does now, hosting an even greater number of people and increased wealth concentration. It will also still suffer from an infrastructure deficit, with the main difference from today being an increased convergence of services like water, power and sewage treatment in the newer housing developments slowly springing up.