Informal transit integration with planned transit systems in Lagos, Nigeria

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Alcorn, Louis Gerald

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Informal, minimally-regulated minibus services dominate public transportation in Lagos. Local, state, and federal government entities in Nigeria have historically only been able to provide woefully inadequate formal transit systems. The informal transit sector has sprung up to fill this incredible demand. The cutthroat, individualistic grind of this system produces world-renowned problems of inefficiency, safety and, unreliability of urban transport in one of the world’s most populated cities. While build-out of more reliable, safer and more affordable public transit infrastructure in Lagos is imperative and ongoing, it is unclear whether past, current and future projects being carried out by the government are being or have been designed to incorporate informal services for a combined system that can better accommodate travel on a network scale throughout the city. Government agencies preach the need for modernist, top-down imposition of bold, physical infrastructure projects and the eradication of the disorder associated with the informal system. These plans boast a grand vision for the future of transport in Lagos, including the build out of numerous Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, a 7-line commuter/light-rail network, and even a gondola system serving Lagos and Victoria islands. This research takes a critical, post-colonial lens to the complex relationships at play in what currently embodies a competing, dual transit system rooted in institutional corruption. Through this analysis, I distill a potential for a collaborative relationship to develop in this place, leveraging the benefits of both the formal, ordered system and the informal system’s adaptive nature and situated knowledges.


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