by Chinedu Okafor
Lagosians for a very long time now have been very expectant of a government that works, and we are yet to find out if this new administration can live up to this expectation. It’s still quite early for the people of Lagos to evaluate this new government but it is fair and possibly wise to make predictions based on our observation so far, that way, one knows what to expect regardless of the circumstance that is brewing.
This new government is not only tasked with the responsibility of living up to people’s expectation, but it also has the responsibility of ending the domino effect
The domino effect is a phenomenon coined by Dwight D. Eisenhower which denotes that a single incident can lead to a series of other incidents, most likely similar in nature. This theory when applied to real world events can sometimes prove to be very unpredictable and disastrous. Nigerians, especially Lagosians are no stranger to this irregularity. We often find ourselves dealing with economic issues that would have been easier solved at its initial stage.
Lagosians have gotten accustomed to the domino effect triggered by government irresponsibility and each day hope for a better Lagos gets drearier. For example, when roads are not properly constructed, gridlocks inevitably materialize, impatience amongst drivers begins to breed, impatience leads to irresponsible driving, and irresponsible driving often time leads to road accidents, in which case people point fingers at each other, now oblivious to the fact that if the roads were initially built properly, traffic lights mounted at the right intervals, and traffic officials stationed at the right stops, accidents would be far and few in-between.
Accidents are not the only side effects of bad roads, surprisingly in Lagos, economic opportunities arise from terrible situations, in this case, when roads are not constructed properly, and officials are not appointed to man the roads using road safety laws, desperately opportunistic individuals set up road side shops amongst other things.
Lagosians who are not privileged enough to rent or buy a shop of their own in a designated market place, have come to adopt the rampant habit of setting up shop just at the road side, specifically at the pedestrian walkway.
The required formula to have a road side shop is simple really, all one needs is a small disposable wooden shed or a mere table, an umbrella in the case where you have just a table, which in reality isn’t obligatory and the goods intended for sale. Traders sell their products unchecked and unapproved, a practice that is primarily common among food vendors. Traders quickly get comfortable in undesignated trade zones, and Lagosians have come to normalize this behaviour.
It then becomes easy to see that the domino effect here is that, a state government unwilling to take its economic structures seriously, would have to deal with a people unwilling to take the state’s infrastructures seriously. If the head is rotten the rest of the body would be too.
In metropolises like Ajah, Lekki, or Ikoyi, where there is more civility, you will seldom find these sort of prohibited road markets, basically because of the attention and resources the government has put in these places, and how well it is properly staffed, marketers here are restricted to market places and not roadsides, so they don’t constitute all sorts of nuisances and litter the streets, but in places like, Orile, Abulado, Iyanoba, the more ghetto parts of Lagos, traders are beset all over the street, seeing as there are no rules against it. The effect of this ranges from unusable walkways, to excessive littering, to traffic jams, to fights and sometimes crime.
This issue seems to have caught the attention of the current Lagos administration and lately, it looks like the government is taking action to remedy the problem. According to eyewitnesses, it was reported that the current governor of Lagos state, paid a visit to the dreadful roads of the Lagos Badagry Express way, after much complaints from both residents and non-residents, be it through videos and pictures surfacing on social media to news outlets reporting the disgusting state of the roads or direct complains sent to the governor’s office.
The administration seems to be invested in cleaning these parts of Lagos, and so far efforts to do so have been micro aggressive. Government officials have taken to completely clearing away the traders who are making a living selling on the roadside in some parts of the metropolis, an action that could have both positive and negative effects, all owing to the negligence of the previous administration.
It’s no secret that the Lagos is Nigeria’s version of ‘The land of opportunity.’ People running to Lagos are looking to escape a life of rural isolation and run into the arms of an economic giant, to become a part of something bigger.
These people are on a quest for a slice of the country’s wealth and most of them seem to gravitate towards Lagos, for promise of a better life. To its credit, Lagos in a sense offers them as best as it can the opportunity to earn a living. This desperate search has been the number one reason for overpopulation in the state. An overpopulation that affects even the market.
There is great demand in Lagos and as such there is need for great supply, and lastly there is great competition. In an already highly competitive market, the government actions of clearing traders off their self-designated trade zone could appear as an attack on people’s livelihood.
While it is commendable that the government is taking this huge step to cleaning the city, it is also important that they create contingency plans for the people who would directly be affected by this change, because the reality is, if people are not provided with the resources they need to survive, they will create their own.
Chasing traders off the roadside is not a bad idea it makes the city cleaner and gives the state a better image, but if the traders being chased away have nowhere to go, the domino effect of this development might lead to an even greater economic crisis than the government is trying so desperately to remedy.
So it is very important that the new administration moves not only to implement projects but also to implement ideas that solve people’s immediate problems. The task is difficult but if the Lagos government continues to short hand ideas, infrastructures would inevitably crumble, and the domino effect would continue to roll.