The problem with Lagos isn’t just that there are too many people in such a small place.
It is also on account of too many of two other things:
Ego and cars.
There are so many cars coming into the city. So many cars trying to get around and so many trying to leave.
Well, those who live here would argue about how having a vehicle is a necessity in such a crowded place. And they may have a fair argument.
But how did it get to the point where it became such a torture to get from one corner of Lagos to the other?
These necessary cars contributed.
So think about what it would be like, speaking about traffic and all, if half the population decided to get bicycles instead.
Lagos folks are going to roll their eyes and call such a notion foolish. But it isn’t.
We know you guys have money.
But what if, somehow, Nigerians dropped the belief that driving a car is a number one way of expressing wealth?
It would be such a huge leap in solving the traffic problem, my thoughts.
We have to admit a secondary —or third, or fourth— reason why people buy cars: they want to impress others.
Granted, they want to get to work, market or school, faster.
But they also want to brag about how much their cars cost, how it is the latest. Or that they even have a car at all.
Folks will like to argue this.
But caught in the undertone of such arguments is ego itself, dragging unrelentingly behind this pompous claims.
This is why a Lagos folk, wealthy folk would imagine that selling of his car and taking the metro BRT, or simply hopping a quad-gear bicycle is somehow demeaning of his status.
But it isn’t.
Imagine if just a quarter of Lagos, tomorrow morning, sets out, without their automobiles, and rode bicycles. You will be shocked out of your shoes at the broad effects.
We are talking about huge advantages like:
An enormous reduction in pollution levels —all the major types of pollution afflicting crowded cities; better health for inhabitants, faster travel time, fewer cases of hypertension, fewer incidents of violent road reactions and many more.
London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, they all have alternatives like their subway trains. There are possibly more bicycles in Beijing than there are cars. And those folks are more advanced than us.
Do they possess more advanced brains?
It may appear so for they are so humble and therefore more forward-moving than their human relatives in Africa.
Can we someday have Subway systems in Nigeria?
Well, that has never been a discussion among those who rule the polity.
Here, we think true wealth is flaunting how many cars and things we have.
And we pray a lot.
But we do not have so much will to act on our prayers.
Will we ever ditch our cars —and our egos— and hop on bicycles?
It is my sincere hope that we will. Someday.