A 2007 PhD thesis shows that Area Boys and Bus Drivers are responsible for most of the traffic in Lagos. With almost 20 million people and no serious public transportation system, most Lagosians end up spending almost as much time commuting to and from the office as they do at work. Along with the city’s notorious Danfo busses, here are the top fourteen contributors to traffic (by percentage) that make your Lagos commute a living nightmare.

Danfo Busses, 10.3 percent

Credit: PUBSTV
Credit: PUBSTV

According to the thesis, a 2006 survey carried out by the Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Danfos – the iconic yellow or white minibuses — account for 43.5 percent of vehicles on the roadway. About 10.3 percent of the traffic on Lagos roads comes from bus drivers dropping off and picking passengers where they aren’t supposed to.

Drivers that drive against traffic, 9.5 percent

The unruly behaviour of Lagos drivers has continued to be an issue in the city. Some drive reverse on the roadways instead of making a u-turn if they miss their destinations. Sometimes they drive against traffic if they see that certain roads are blocked. These unlawful drivers can end up blocking forward movement and creating traffic jams that last for hours. This act by drivers causes 9.5 percent of the traffic congestion in the city.

Traders and Hawkers 9.2 percent


Though things have improved, Lagos highways and streets still have their fair share of traders and hawkers who sell goods where they aren’t supposed to. Drivers who buy through their windows often stop to exchange money with these roving entrepreneurs. The result – as change exchanges hands and is counted – is that everyone is forced to wait for the deal to get done. Sometimes these traders block bus stops and prevent busses from leaving the roadways thus causing further obstruction behind. They account for 9.2 percent of traffic congestion in Lagos.

Flooded Roadways, 8.5 percent

Lagos is a city built on a swamp. With its tropical monsoon climate, it’s a city that sees an average of 40 cm of rain each year. Poor drainage systems and ancient roadways lead to flooding that sometimes halts even the most sturdy SUVs. Add to this the fact that you can’t see the condition of the roads beneath the water and certain areas of the city turn into virtual rivers that only the most daredevil drivers would speed through. Flooded roads account for 8.5 percent of traffic on Lagos roads.

Area Boys, 7.9 percent

Credit: Gistmania
Credit: Gistmania

Anyone who lives in Lagos is familiar with the city’s ubiquitous Area Boys or local touts who are often a menace to peace in various neighbourhoods. According to the study, they are the cause of 7.9 percent of traffic in Lagos by slowing progress when they pressure bus drivers –  who often refuse to pay – for money.

Road Construction 7.8 percent

Credit: Information Nigeria
Credit: Information Nigeria

Lagos is a city where the roads are always falling apart and always being put back together. Some of these construction projects –which might only take a few weeks (or months) in other countries – seem to stretch into the years in Nigeria. From Lekki to Victoria Island, to Ikoyi and the bridges to the mainland, there’s always some road construction that slows down traffic flows. This accounts for 7.8 percent of the traffic delays.

Accidents, 7.3 percent

Accident-naijalog.com (1)

Most Lagosians who drive can attest to the number of fender benders and even more serious crashes that can block the roads. Most people whose cars get scratched stops in the middle of the road and argue until they’ve either settled the problem or the police become involved. These occurrences cause 7.3% of the traffic on Lagos roadways.

Vehicle Break Downs 7.2 percent

Vehicle breakdowns on Lagos roads are a constant phenomenon. There are so many cars that just aren’t road worthy moving up and down the city streets.  These cars often breakdown on the roadway massive holdups. According to the study, these breakdowns account for 7.2 percent of Lagos traffic.

Police Traffic Check Points, 7.2 percent

Police traffic checkpoints have been the cause of major traffic situations in Nigeria. Many times they control the traffic without any real regard for the volumes of cars coming from different directions. Some traffic wardens allow bus drivers who regularly tip them to pass. These law breakers in uniform cause chaos at intersections and contribute to 7.2 percent of the traffic in the metropolis.

Oil Tankers that block roadways, 6.6 percent


People who are familiar with the large lagos port of Apapa can confirm that gridlock on port roads is a major problem for those who work or live around the area. Legions of oil tankers that have turned one side of the road into a rest stop have converted a dual carriage highway into a single carriage road. This selfish act has forces traffic moving in opposite directions to alternate and veryone ends up steaming. Although the government has been talking about rectifying this issue for years, little seems to have changed the situation.

Too many vehicles on the roadways, 6 percent

For a city of 20 million people Lagos has surprisingly few public transportation options. Though blessed with abundant accessible waterways that could cut the travel time between its major neighbourhoods by 75%, there are very few ferries. Other major cities a fraction of Lagos’s size have subway systems or light rail while the first functioning metro line in the city wont be completed until the end of 2015.  Furthermore, the roads in Lagos were built for a much smaller city that came into being during colonial times. These networks haven’t really been updated nor have traffic patterns truly been analyzed to create smarter uses of the existing roadways. These oversights lead to 6 percent of the traffic in the city.

Traffic Lights 5.7 percent

The introduction of traffic lights on Lagos roads was expected improve the traffic situation in Lagos but sometimes, the reverse seems to be the case. The timing of these lights is not properly regulated. During rush hour people expect major roads to see more green than red, but the lights don’t seem to recognize an increased volume of cars at major intersections. These glitches account for 5.7 percent of traffic.

Intersections 3.8 percent


If ego were a currency, Lagos would be the wealthiest city in the world.  Many motorists here fail to yield at intersections because they believe they always have the right of passage. Drivers block each other just to prove a point and the parties often refuse to back down until there are long lines of cars stretching for hundreds of meeters behind them. This bad attitude accounts for 3.8 percent of traffic in the city.

Drivers that cut off other drivers 3.1 percent

Why can’t people just use turn signals? In Lagos it seems people can change lanes “anyhow” as the locals say without indicating their intentions. The sudden jumps by those who can’t or wont use turn signals cause squealing breaks and a chain reaction of back ups that can often result in major traffic. These drivers cause 3.1 percent of the traffic in the city.

Traffic graph (1)

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