Okada: An Open Letter to Governor Jide Sanwoolu.

 

Dear Sir,

Welcome to the realities of leading one of the most complex cities in the world by every standard. You have done well for winning.

Anyway, sir, Okada is not your problem. It has never been. What the problem is in this situation is an ‘image problem’. So, let us discuss this image problem and maybe together we can try to create a pathway to the true solution to the traffic conundrum in our great city.

So, let us start with the image problem sir. We are very unique system in the world. Even in the sense that we are a Mega City, we are unique in our Mega Cityness. Lagos, you see, has not been designed as a unified system. It has grown over the little percentage the Oyinbo left us, in a sense extremely organically. So, the road in Lagos is not at all the same as road in New York. It practically doesn’t perform the same function. Road in New York is a noun. In Lagos, it is a verb. This is why the Okada, gala sellers etc can be an integral part of this whole system.

One of your predecessors went down this route and the will of the people and our nameless streets forced a kind of compromise. The Okada is the only way to navigate the winding mess of the parts of this city that people truly live. You know of course that the growth of the city is constantly overtaking the ordering of it. Anyway, what we need to first figure out is an understanding of how our city works in its present state. This is the branding that Lagos deserves.

Our city is very disconnected. It is a very incomplete city from many conventional views. But it is not Dubai, or Europe, and it will never be. It is LAGOS, and this is a thing we must be proud of. We need to appreciate its urbanism as it has developed and build around it to make it more efficient. The Okada is not the problem in the city. Impatience is.

We are talking here of legislation. We can legislate this. We are also talking of Design. We need a new type of road, a Lagos Road. A road type that accommodates the Gala Seller and Okada, because dear Sir, lives have been built around them for decades. Our City does not work at all without these personalised transport systems like Okada. You have your sirens sir, so you can get to the airport for your flight in good time. Imagine trying to get to the airport at 3pm on any day from Victoria Island? An absolute nightmare.

You see Sir, no easy way from Yaba to VI, except with Okada.

George James-Inedu

Architect and thinker.

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