Implementation of Physical Planning Law Will Address Lagos’ Parking Challenge

Bennett Oghifo

Parking spaces in Lagos are shrinking by the day with new buildings, both commercial and residential springing up and with their promoters not paying attention to planning laws that specify the setting aside of an area for parking of residents’ vehicles.

The land mass of Lagos is small and individual plots are expensive and so it is understandable that buyers always seek to maximise their use by building wall to wall, unmindful of the fact that this runs contrary to the law.

Every driver’s concern when setting out of their homes is where to park at their destination and where to park when they return home late in the evening. Some residents have one or two parking spaces in their homes but a third vehicle or a visitor’s vehicle must park on the street. Even malls with large parking spaces are beginning to struggle.

Most streets are lined with cars, creating movement problems for everyone, including pedestrians who are not able to use the walkways because petty traders have annexed these spaces to spread their wares. It can be frustrating. 

Also, new estates are springing up across the state without addressing the same issue of parking, while developers are pulling down old houses daily at key locations in the state. In most Business Districts, skyscrapers are coming up without adequate or without car parks.

If the traffic situation in the state is to improve, the issue of illegal parking must be fully addressed. A recent study conducted by the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, has shown that a major cause of traffic gridlocks in the metropolis is street parking.

The study further revealed that no fewer than 10 vehicles vied for parking spaces every 10 seconds at every street in the state. This has often left most streets clogged with motor vehicles, with many being parked at the roadside, or on the walkways.

The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu resolved to address this problem with the establishment of the Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) by an Act of the Lagos House of Assembly in 2019, with a major goal of promoting parking policies in the state in line with international standards practice.

According to those familiar with the parks’ development, the idea came up during the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and finally brought to life by the visionary and focused Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. LASPA has been making concrete efforts to tackle the menace of haphazard parking in the state.

As the regulatory authourity on all forms of parking, the agency is laying the foundation for a system that would demand a change in the residents’ parking culture in line with the Sanwo-Olu-administration’s agenda of attaining a ‘Greater Lagos’.

The General Manager, LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, said the organisation has developed a strategic road map to ensure that every part of the state feels its impact.

Adelabu said: “It is a rare privilege and a humbling experience for me to be steering this organisation to the fulfilment of its purpose. I call on relevant stakeholders to collaborate with us to attain the Lagos that we all envision.”

The major reasons for regulating parking in Lagos are to regulate and manage all forms of parking (both private and public), register all the existing private and public car parks and sensitise the public on parking.

Others are implementing policies and directives of the state for the provision, maintenance and management of parking, to charge fees on parking, issue parking permits and conduct parking enforcement.

A major preoccupation of LASPA is to provide an enabling environment for vehicle owners in a secured, functional, orderly and sustainable parking management system scheme.

She said, “Parking will take steady steps towards technology adoption. These technologies will overhaul how Lagosians view parking and ultimately change their parking culture, and operate a more efficient parking system.”

The responsibilities of the organisation include, among others, minimising indiscriminate parking-induced gridlocks across the state, mitigation of valuable business hours being wasted in traffic, eliminating touting systems in the parking sector and redesigning and restructuring the current parking culture.

Others include employment generation, regulating/charging appropriate fees on all forms of parking across the state, implementation of the statewide parking policies and ultimately boosting the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

Thus far, LASPA has expanded its scope of operation to include on street parking. This is the kind of parking done on one side of a carriageway or two sides of a dual carriageway, depending on the width of the road in question. To be able to accommodate on-street parking, a road must be up to 9.5meters in width minimum.

In addition, vehicles must be parked facing the direction of traffic. In highbrow areas and CBDs, on-street parking, according to LASPA, will be limited to two hours on normal charges. Extra hours attract higher charges.

LASPA is also engaged in off street parking, a kind of parking that is arranged off the carriageways. It includes ground parking lots, multi level parking lots and setbacks, which are spaces between the fence of a property and the walkway. Government owns setbacks. Therefore, users will have to pay to LASPA.

The LASPA General Manager said, “All multinationals and their distributors must register with LASPA and get a permit for their fleet to enhance regulatory compliance and ensure eradication of indiscriminate parking.”

LASPA, through its enforcement team, authourised parking in all areas designated for parking, commercial and private, to ensure efficient service and compliance to the stipulated guidelines as set by the Authority.

The team is also engaged in collection and collation of data through mobile app in readiness for reporting.

It equally submits up to date information on the level of activities at concession zones and parks to enable adjustments to the strategic 5 years plan.

LASPA is making efforts to ensure the menace caused by inappropriate parking in the state is reduced. This is being done by monitoring overstay and illegal parking via real-time technology.

LASPA has been optimising parking space and making processes efficient by giving real-time car parking information such as vehicle and slot counts, available slots display, reserved parking and pay-and-park options among others.

According to International Parking Institute, IPI, the U.S. parking industry generates more than $25-30 billion in gross parking revenues. Also in South Africa, the parking industry contributes more than 8%to their gross domestic product, GDP.

A recent statistics by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, also reveals that there are more than 13 million active vehicles plying Nigerian roads, of which more than 2 million are in Lagos.

All these data point to the availability of an untapped market here in Lagos concerning car/vehicle parking. Undoubtedly, a more organised parking process within the state will not only prove to be an income generator, but such could also help in reducing traffic congestion.

This is what LASPA said it wants to achieve. With the cooperation of all stakeholders, the organization’s current efforts at addressing indiscriminate parking will create an enabling environment for everybody to live, thereby improving the condition of living of Lagos residents.

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