Walking the talk: Supporting Nigeria to adopt policies for active mobility

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It was a full house at the stakeholder conference on the Lagos NMT Policy.
It was a full house at the stakeholder conference on the Lagos NMT Policy.

Through the support of the FIA Foundation and UN Environment Share the Road program, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) has been working with the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Lagos State Government to create better non-motorised transport options for urban residents.

Lagos’s streets—and those of cities across Nigeria—are dominated by a host of users and vehicles, including pedestrians, cyclists, okadas (motorcycle taxis), kekes (three-wheelers), cars, danfos (minibuses), and heavy trucks. The diverse mix of transport services helps meet critical mobility needs but also creates a challenging environment for walking and cycling. Approximately 40 per cent of Lagos residents are on foot or use a bicycle, yet there are few provisions for walking and cycling on the city’s roads. The lack of usable, dedicated and safe pedestrian and cycling space means that pedestrians and cyclists share the carriageway with fast moving vehicles. As a result, non-motorised transport (NMT) users, and children in particular, are by far the most exposed and vulnerable group on Nigerian streets.

On Wednesday 25th October the Federal Ministry of Transport (FMOT) organized a street design workshop that brought together officials from the Transport Ministry, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Environment, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Federal Road Safety Corps, and civil society. The workshop aimed to strengthen the inclusion of NMT infrastructure in Nigeria’s National Transport Policy, which is currently under review.

Dr. Anthonia Ekpa, Director, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics at FMOT, challenged officials to work together to change the way Nigerian cities are designed. During a visit to nearby streets in Abuja, participants witnessed firsthand the shortcomings of the pedestrian environment in the capital city. Emmanuel John, a transport consultant pointed to the challenges for vulnerable road users: “Abuja has the highest rate of road crashes in Nigeria. What is the problem? We have designed for cars essentially.”

In Lagos, the draft Non-Motorised Transport Policy under development by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) represents a complete paradigm shift from existing development patterns toward a transport system that prioritises walking, cycling, and public transport as viable alternatives to car use.

The draft policy was the focus of discussion at a stakeholders conference entitled “Empowering Pedestrians and Cyclists for a Better City” organized by LAMATA on Thursday 26th October.

The State Ministry of Transportation took on the mantle by committing to work with all relevant state ministries and agencies to ensure the policy now makes its way into law. Even as the approval process is underway, the Ministry has begun planning for a bike share scheme and LAMATA is reviewing designs for the Abule-Egba bus rapid transit (BRT) line to ensure that the corridor incorporates world-class pedestrian facilities.