Nigeria: Lagos road congestion: Cable car system to the rescue

By IndepthAfrica
In Nigeria
Feb 12th, 2013

ceratThere is excitement in Lagos, West Africa’s economic hub, over the planned introduction of cable propelled mass transit otherwise called cable car, a system not popular in this part of the world. Although existing at the Obudu Cattle Ranch resort in Cross River State, but that is only for tourist purposes.
Lagos therefore seems set to make history as the first sub-saharan megacity that will deploy the system as a mass transit option other than road, rail and ferry. But where else is this novel idea best suited than this megacity whose population growth is alarming, yet the smallest of the 36 states in terms of land mass. While the present population of Lagos is put at 18 million people, it is estimated that it will hit 25 million 2015.

One key challenge for such a populated city is transportation. Unfortunately, having been almost completely built up, road expansion becomes a difficult task as no one is ordinarily willing to let go of his/her house to create new roads. And where government forces its way through, it is always a case of litigations and many crying out for being rendered homeless when demolition of houses are involved. In most cases too, government itself is seen struggling to pay compensations which often runs into several millions of naira.

However, the perennial road congestion has seen the state government devising various means to tackle it including the issuance of ‘Odd’ and ‘Even’ numbers in the early 1980s which allowed motorists ply certain routes within specified periods and the creation of the Lagos Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) in July 2000 with personnel deployed on the roads to manage traffic.

In 2008, the state partnering with the private sector under PPP also introduced the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a mass transit bus system on dedicated routes on Ikorodu Road, running from Mile 12 to CMS on the Island. The BRT fleet, run by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) as the regulator is said to be currently operating with the combined capacity for over 180,000 passengers daily.

The state is equally working to deliver light rail systems on two major routes—Okokomaiko in Ojo area to CMS tagged “Blue Line” and another that will run from Agbado area to the island, tagged the “Red Line,” all in an effort to address traffic congestion. According to studies, vehicular density in Lagos is about 224 vehicles per km as against a national average of 15 vehicles per km. This is bound to increase as the population increases and more residents buy their cars, posing greater challenge to public transportation in the state.

The idea of the cable car system which the present government in the state has thrown its weight behind is in continuation of the effort to give residents and visitors to the commercial city another option that compliments existing transportation facilities in the state. But how soon, safe, efficient and affordable will this be?

Dapo Olumide, managing director, Ropesway Transport Limited, the franchise owners of the system says the company is set for groundbreaking in June 2013 but billed to commence commercial operations 2015 after all necessary supportive infrastructure would have put in place.

According to Olumide, the company will begin construction of towers, stations and connecting network of cables along various routes. In the first phase, Ropesway will be completing routes connecting Ijora-Iddo, Iddo-Adeniji, Apapa-Oluwole, Oluwole-Adeniji-Obalende, Falomo-Obalende and Victoria-Obalende and subsequently expands to other parts of the metropolis as the business grows.

In area of safety and security, he says the system will be relying on independent power projects (IPPs) for power supply which will guarantee all-round non-stop efficient operations. The power sources will be obtained from gas supply supported by two inverter backups and a 1.5 megawatts diesel-powered source. On capacity per day, he says “we will start with about 250,000 passengers traffic target, with breakeven point put at 200,000 passengers.”

He believes the system will be effective in ferrying thousands of Lagosians across the city in real time without interfering or competing with existing transportation facilities. “What we are bringing to Lagos is to complement existing transportation infrastructure and not to compete,” he says, adding that it will be truly mass transit with affordable between N200 and N300.

Operational period, Olumide says may be between the hours of 5am and 10pm but this will be in line with what is approved by LAMATA under whose law the cable car system will operate.

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