Multi-Floor Parking Facility
Lagos Is Redeveloping The Marina Without Considering How A Multi-Floor Parking Infrastructure Can Bleed The Dead Engine Traffic On The Island, Writes Bennett Oghifo
Parking in Lagos Island can be very tasking because it is fraught with all sorts of hazards created by either humans or lack of parking infrastructure. As crude as the informal parking arrangements in Lagos Island are, the rake in millions of naira daily into the till of faceless collectors, operating in the name of whatever government agency they desire. No questions are asked for fear of vehicles being towed to unknown destinations.
For more than three years, Lagosians have been under the impression that a multi-floor parking infrastructure is being developed between the inner and outer marina on Lagos Island to ease parking problems there. The reality is that there have been no proposals to that effect, at least not officially and, regrettably, Julius Berger’s presence in the arena is not for that purpose but for the redevelopment of the Central Bank Building.
No multi-floor parking in Lagos Marina
Official sources in Lagos have established that there is no proposal to build a multi-floor parking infrastructure on the Marina using a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement. An official said, “My experience over the years has proved that multi-floor car parking development can never pay for itself under PPP arrangement except other uses are introduced.” He said bankers and project managers would corroborate his position. “I studied this with over 35 years experience.”
He went ahead to clarify the presence of Julius Berger at the Marina. “Julius Berger is on the site temporary to conclude the development of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) building.”
Marina multi-floor parking necessary
The position is that though the infrastructure is needed in that axis of Lagos for good traffic control, but that would not be cost-effective if other uses are not incorporated into the structure. In recent times, car parks built to serve residential and some business properties are built as part of a larger building, and often are built underground as part of the basement. This saves land for other uses (as opposed to a parking lot), and is cheaper and more practical in most cases than a separate structure, and is hidden from view. It also protects customers and their cars from weather such as rain, or hot summer sunshine that raises a vehicle’s interior temperature to extremely high levels.
It may not be expensive to construct as a stand-alone structure devoted to parking, points out Mr. OlayemiShonubi, a Quantity Surveyor and chief executive officer of DwabCostprudence Company, firm of Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers & Development Consultants. “From the development costs perspective, it is cheaper to build in comparison to office development as most of the high cost elements/finishing required for a good functional office such as floor tiles/marble, air-conditioning, ceilings, among others are not needed.”
Stressing the importance of a multi-floor parking infrastructure at the Marina, Shonubi explains that “with the current redevelopment of Lagos Island CBD which is the centre of commerce in Lagos and infact for the entire West Coast of Africa, it is expected that there would be a corresponding increase in human as well as vehicular traffic to this part of Lagos. Furthermore the various steps taken by the State Government to develop the Marina as a leisure/relaxation spot can not but generate unending traffic.”
He says given the increase in vehicular traffic, it is expected that there would be a corresponding increase in parking spaces as well as facilities as there are not enough approved parking lots in Lagos Island, particularly at the Marina/Broad Street axis which accounts for most traffic inflow into Lagos Island. “Thus a multi-storey or multi-floor parking development is most likely to satisfy the yawning gap that currently exists. This is due to the fact that most Nigerians would rather go to their business places in the comfort of their vehicles with the attendant security and safety than use the inadequate and sometimes unsafe public transport system, which they have hitherto been subjected to due to lack of adequate parking.”
Appropriate parking facility should be incorporated into a fluid transport system, contends AfolabiAdedeji, a civil engineer and construction manager. “Multi– level car parks are a solution to the perennial problem of parking on Lagos Island and its central business district. I believe that Residents of Lagos State and Nigerians in general, deserve a good transportation system, which will incorporate appropriate parking spaces, where and when they are needed.”
The reasoned that the emerging status of Lagos as a mega city would further create vehicular parking challenges of finding car parking Spaces for commuters as well as shoppers and other persons that have one thing or another to do on Lagos Island and its central business district.
Vertical or multilevel construction, he argues is normally the favourite approach all over the world, where space is “tight”, land is expensive and there is pressure for the utilisation of the available space for various alternative purposes. The foregoing description fits quite closely with what subsists right now in Lagos Island, especially with the central business district (CBD) project and the renewal of inner parts of central Lagos that has been going on for the last several years. “For ‘benchmarking’ purposes, the Cities of Hong Kong and Singapore on the Asian Continent, London on the European Continent (which is frequently visited by many Nigerians) as well as New York City on the North American Continent will serve us well.”
Speaking about the spiral effect of parking, he said availability of parking spaces could have a very positive impact on rental values as it encourages visitors to come to a particular Building to transact Business, for leisure and relaxation purposes, among others. At the neighbourhood Level, where parking spaces are available, it fosters the smooth flow of traffic and eases potential “bottle-necks” that could be particularly troublesome during emergencies, when, for instance a fire engine, the Nigeria Police Rapid Response Squad vehicle is trying to foil a crime or a Hospital Ambulance conveying a Patient needs to move rapidly from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’. Multi – Level Car Parks seem to be the solution of choice for central Lagos, in meeting this vital part/requirement of any good Urban Transportation System.
According to him, the provision of car parking spaces is best preceded by formal parking studies, origin and destination studies as well as comprehensive transportation planning. It should not be seen as an expensive luxury but rather as a vital necessity to avoid wastage of scarce public funds. Now that Lagos is moving towards becoming a mega city, such studies should be viewed by our public administrators as being well worth the time and expense involved.
“The idea of having multi-level car parks on Lagos Island is not entirely new. I’m aware that it was once mooted during the tenure of Prince Ademola Adeniji Adele as Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government about 15 years or so ago, when the Urban Development Bank of Nigeria Plc (where he was then working as a Manager in the Commercial Ventures & Public Utilities Department) was approached for the possible funding of the proposed Oke – Arin market in central Lagos.
“The challenge thrown by competition in the Lagos retail business to Mega Plaza, Century 21 Mall, along Idowu Martins Street in Victoria Island, by players such as Shoprite at the nearby Lekki Peninsula, which offers a sprawling Parking Space that the owners ‘boast’ to be able to accommodate up to 1,000 cars, was quickly risen to by the Israeli owners of Mega Plaza, shortly after their fire incident, when they provided a Multi-Level Car Park (constructed principally of Steel Material) in Record breaking time, so as to re-attract and retain their customers.”
The importance of proper planning, he said cannot be over-emphasized for any proposed multi-level car park(s) in Lagos, with the implementation linked closely to the inter-modal/multi-modal transportation system for Lagos State, which is being doggedly pursued by the Governor of Lagos, Babatunde RajiFashola. “Factors to be taken into account in the parking and transportation studies include, growth in the population of Lagos/vehicle users, changes in land use patterns, new work methods such as tele – commuting, job sharing, among others, that may soon start getting practiced in Nigeria and which may have an impact/influence on what we now know today as peak and off–peak movement patterns of traffic and commuters in and out of Lagos Island.”
Multi-floor Park Design
Many car parks are independent buildings that are dedicated exclusively to that use. According to experts, the design loads for car parks are often less than the office building they serve, leading to long floor spans of 55-60 feet that permit cars to park in rows without supporting columns in between. “The most common structural systems for these structures are either pre-stressed concrete, concrete double tee floor systems or post- tensioned cast-in-place concrete floor systems.” Movement of vehicles between floors can be effected by, interior ramps, the most common type, exterior ramps - which may take the form of a circular ramp (colloquially known as a ‘whirley-gig’ in America), vehicle lifts - the least common, automated robot systems - combination of ramp and elevator like the smart parking systems.