When the Lagos state government launched LagRide – an e-hailing taxi scheme about two months ago, we asked if the city needed a thousand more vehicles to serve its teeming population, and our resolve was negative. 

Interestingly, some of the concerns raised about the benefits of LagRide regarding job creation are playing out already. You can see the lineup of dusty unallocated LagRide vehicles at the gigantic BRT terminal in Oshodi, a prominent landmark in Lagos state. The reason for this is not far-fetched. A glance at the drivers’ requirements revealed it was not economically viable for an average unemployed Nigerian.

We also contended that as good as the intent for creating LagRide is, it misses the mark in addressing the core issues of transportation that Lagosians face. Lagos is the smallest state in Nigeria, yet, it has the highest urban population. With limited geographical space, deficient infrastructure and a burgeoning population, movement in the state is arduous. That is why Lagos is infamous for traffic and is regarded as one of the worst cities to drive in, globally. So, rather than LagRide, sustainable transportation means like LagFerry, cable cars, and rail mass transits should be better alternatives. 

In a new development, Lagos state just signed an MOU with Oando, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous energy solution providers for the rollout of electric mass transit buses, supporting charging infrastructure, and service centres (EV Infrastructure Ecosystem). This is a laudable development for environmental sustainability. It fits into LASG’s journey to becoming a sustainable city. But the impact would only be felt if certain measures are considered. 

The population of Lagos state was about 35 million in 2020, per the demographic projection on the State government’s website. There is no gainsaying the number has skyrocketed in 2022. The state is forecast to become the world’s most populated city by 2100, with as many as 100 million residents. As the city grows, so will the number of vehicles.

Premium Times reported that vehicles plying Lagos roads increased by 400 per cent in the last decade, and the likelihood of a progressive spike in population growth could trigger higher tons of carbon emissions, with the transportation sector accounting for 23 per cent to 30 per cent in annual CO2 emissions.

This is not good for a city already battling increased temperature, variable rainfall, rising sea levels and flooding, all evidence of the effects of climate change. Scientific projections suggest Lagos may become uninhabitable by the end of this century due to climate change. Hence, the electric car development is a brilliant initiative instrumental in curbing climate change. The promise of accompanying charging infrastructure and service centres (EV Infrastructure Ecosystem) could also help expedite the adoption of electric vehicles for private use in the state. A few residents own a Tesla, one of the most renowned electric vehicle (EV) brands globally. Still, many remain sceptical about its use partly because of the absence of charging infrastructure. More electric vehicles on Lagos roads would help decarbonise the city.

However, it is counter-productive to promote decarbonization on one end and aid emissions from the other. The 1000 LagRide injected into the transport system is the first phase of the LagRide initiative, implying there is more to come. These cars are not electrically powered, hence, the rollout of more vehicles in this initiative will increase emissions. 

Also, one of the primary aims of the new partnership on electric vehicles is to ease transportation in Lagos. But this might not be achieved because more cars on the road equal increased traffic which is not what the city needs. The target to ease transportation would be met if the electric buses could replace existing public transport like the popular rickety yellow commercial buses – danfos.

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