Lagos traffic: Testing Ambode’s digital resolve

Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode
SIR: Some months ago, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, unveiled a plan to introduce what he described as a world class traffic information and management system to drastically change the state of Lagos traffic. Among other suppositions, this smart network of cameras, road sensors, and electronic displays designed to collect and deliver real time information to commuters and help to regulate traffic would be one of Ambode’s answers to his sworn critics including The Economist of London.
But can the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) solve the Lagos traffic problems since experiences have shown that no single measure can solve traffic congestion problems? Papacostas and Prevedouros, both of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, say ITS provides tools for implementation of both supply and demand congestion countermeasures. Incidentally, existing urban transport infrastructure shows that Lagos State has, over the years, invested commendably in a combination of measures with Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) leading the supply category and LASTMA overseeing the demand.
Essentially, while supply measures focus on the transport system and adding capacity to it by means of new roadways, freeways, interchanges, transit lines, ferryboat docks, new rail technology and modernised bus fleet, demand measures on the other hand focus on motorists and travellers and attempt to modify their trip-making behaviour by means of pricing, restrictions, and other incentive and disincentive policies.
Supply-type ITS tools include early incident detection and resolution, optimised signal operation based on real-time demand, freeway management with ramp metering, accident avoidance with variable message signs warning of upcoming conditions, and bus system coordination. Demand-type ITS tools include the provision of real-time traffic congestion information at various places for informed travel decisions. Car travellers with some degree of flexibility may postpone a trip, delay it, or make it in different mode, if the roadways are congested. Also in-vehicle devices may switch demand from a congested route to an alternate route, thereby improving the performance of the entire corridor system.
There is no harm in constructively criticising government but it would be churlish to criticise projects that seek to systematically design advanced technologies in the field of transportation and to reap benefits for commuters and goods especially in a city like Lagos which currently hosts one of the world’s worst traffic situations. ITS is a globally tested traffic management system which has worked for many cities similar to Lagos. It will not fail here.
• Chigozie Chikere,

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