Lagos to Institutionalise ‘Car Free Day,’ Educate Nigerians on Alternative Transportation

Funmi Ogundare

The Lagos State government at the weekend disclosed the administration’s readiness to institutionalise the ‘car free day,’ aimed at educating Nigerians about alternative means of transportation.

These alternative transportation means include cycling, walking and taking public transport in Lagos.
The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who made this known at the inauguration of the ‘Car Free Day’, in Lagos, affirmed that the state would ensure that the initiative they allow citizens embrace non- motorised transportation would be encouraged.
He disclosed that such would be done annually.

Sanwo-Olu who was represented by the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Frederic Oladehinde said, “no doubt, non- motorised transportation is of immense benefit to a state like ours with huge vehicular activities which contributes significantly to environmental pollution with its attendant effect on the health and wellbeing of our citizens.

“Although cars are of immense benefit, they also contribute a dangerous amount of pollution. So having a day-off comes highly recommended and we would see how we can institutionalise the car free day. It is something we will be doing every year.
“Nothing is impossible in Lagos; I can assure you that we would push for it. For us to understand why this day is important, it is vital to understand air pollution and how vehicles contribute to this.”

He said with climate change, the administration was already drafting the policy and the re-introducing the construction of walkways along Catholic Mission road, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.

“We have also begun a non- motorised master plan where we work with the ministry of physical planning to see how we can bring back the pedestrian and walk-ways in most of our estates. We have mapped out some areas where we will do lane marking,” he said.

The Project Manager, Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDU), Mr. Yinka Jones, compared air pollution in Lagos to those of cities like Beijing, Cairo and Mumbai, adding that Lagos state government was making tremendous efforts to make transportation in the state more effective, efficient and sustainable through its several infrastructural, policy, and institutional reforms.

“However, despite the efforts of the government, our roads and streets remain largely non inclusive, hence most of the transportation challenges persist resulting

in an increasing number of vehicles on our inadequate, and already overstretched road infrastructure creating a nightmare in our city.”
Also, the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, who was represented by the Technical Adviser, Corporate and Investment Planning, Mr. Osa Konyeha, described the proposed car-free day in Lagos this year as significant, saying the governor’s vision was for Lagos to have a sustainable integrated transport system that promotes the growth of the state.

“Walking and cycling as forms of transport help promote a healthy environment free of carbon emission. One of our rail lines, the Blue Line, will be powered by electricity in our quest to cut down drastically tail pipe emission on the Lagos Badagry corridor.”

The Captain, Cycology Cycling Club, Mrs. Temitope George recalled that during the lockdown in 2020, Nigerians used the opportunity to cycle or walk and cars were forced out of our roads.

“It’s good to remind people of safer means of transportation and promote carbon-free emission environment,” she added.
She commended the efforts of LAMATA in implementing the non-motorised transport policy saying that her club was part of the committee.
She, however, expressed concern about the number of road crashes in 2021 alone, adding that many of those who sustained injury, were pedestrians and cyclists.

“The road belongs to all of us, it is not just motorists that deserve to be on the road, we all deserve to be on the road, but proper infrastructure must be in place to ensure that,” she said.

A representative of African Cycling Federation (ACF), Mr. Dennis Kange whosaid the foundation is passionate about cycling at the grassroot, expressed concern about the rate of air pollution and road crashes in the state, adding that this calls for a serious concern. He re-emphasised the need to create more awareness about the social and environmental benefits of the non-motorized transport system.The programme witnessed the launch of a trishaw, donated to ACF by Cycling Without Age, Copenhagen 

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