21 February 2010

Nigeria: Challenges of Lagos As a Mega-City


Asia and Africa have large populations and prospects for huge urban growth. In 2005, Asia had an urbanisation level of 40 percent and Africa 38 percent. In spite of political opposition to urbanisation in many countries, rates of urban growth are expected to remain relatively high over the next 25 years, with marked increases in the urban population of both continents and of the world. In 1950, 14.7 percent of Africa's inhabitants were urban, in 2000 it was 37.2% and by 2015 it is expected to rise to 45.3 percent.

UN studies indicated that by 2005, half of the world's population lived in urban areas, a huge jump from the 30 percent living in urban areas in 1950. Some 3.2 billion of the world's 6.5 billion people live in cities today, and the number will increase to 5 billion- an estimated 61 percent of the global population by 2030 (UN Commission on Population and Development). In the cities, where most resources will be consumed, and most pollution and waste will be produced, nearly all of the expected increase in the world's population will occur in developing countries. Current patterns of urban development and human activity have led to environmental degradation, and have created a threat to continued human existence, and to the sustainability of life on earth. It is possible to make the cities more liveable through effective planning (Implementation and Monitoring of planning projects and policies) and community action.

Human settlements in developing countries carry a great burden from rapid, unplanned development. Communities face the problems of inadequate funding for basic infrastructure; rapid rate of population growth and relocation, and its consequent slums, urban sprawl, depletion and intensive exploitation of natural resources.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with a current population of 150 million persons.

Nigerian cities such as Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Kaduna and Calabar grow mainly through rural-urban migration. This urbanisation process has outpaced the existing urban management system. 1996 World Bank reports on Nigeria indicated that the growth rate of urban areas has increased from 20 percent in 1970 to 33 percent in 1993. It is also projected that by the year 2025, 75 percent of Nigeria's population of about 245 million persons is expected to live in towns and cities.

Basic problems in Nigeria's urban management include inadequate professional and supporting technical staff as well as inadequacy of current digitized data and information on urban conditions. Effective urban management strategies depend on comprehensive and up to-date information base.

Brief History of the Growth of Lagos Metropolis

First inhabited before the 15th Century A.D, Lagos as a coastal town grew from a small fishing and farming settlement on an island chosen primarily for its comparative safety from attack - a frequent feature of the then inter-tribal warfare. The advent of the Portuguese in 1472 gave the island its present name of Lagos. The Brazilian traders who came to Lagos in the 1880s settled in the area (on Lagos Island) that is known as Brazilian Quarters, where Brazilian architecture is still much in evidence.

As Lagos became a trade centre, the nation's capital and a seat of learning, migrants came to settle there. Thus began the trend in rural-urban migration. As the population of Lagos increased, spatial expansion became inevitable. From a land area of 4km on the island, and an estimated population of 28,518 in 1871; the population of the city grew to 126,108 in 1931 and the land area expanded to 62.8km. It is significant to note that Lagos grew at a rate of 3.3 percent per annum between 1901 and 1950 but its growth rate per annum between 1950 and 1963 had risen to 18.6 percent. By 1952, the population of Metropolitan Lagos, (whose boundary had expanded to include some rural settlements) had reached 346,137. By the 1963 census, a population of 1,122,733 was recorded for Metropolitan Lagos which at that time did not include Ikorodu.

While by 1971, some Nigerian urban centers were growing at an annual rate of 2-3 percent, Lagos metropolis was experiencing a growth of 14 percent (Lagos Executive Development Board, 1971).

By 1978, the population of Metropolitan Lagos had risen to 3.8 million, and by 1979 it was 4.13 million. The various economic activities encouraged population growth. This phenomenal population growth was not due to natural increase alone but also to rural-urban migration and foreign immigration. The migrants are mainly in their reproductive years and are in search of better opportunities.

Lagos remained the nation's administrative capital till December 1991, when the seat of government moved to Abuja. However, up till now it is still the nation's nerve centre for economic activities, and it has the status of the financial center of West Africa. It is centre of gravity for professionals, semiprofessionals, skilled and unskilled labour and also unfortunately criminals! Lagos also has a vibrant and aggressive informal economic sector.

Lagos continued to grow and by 1997 the Metropolis had a population of 11.85 million. Lagos Metropolis is presently estimated to have a population of 17 million persons out of a national estimate of 150 million. By the year 2015, the population of Lagos Metropolis is projected to be 24.4 million, becoming the third largest city in the world. Mumbai (formerly Bombay) will be second largest at 27.4 million, and Tokyo will be the most populous city with 28.7 million inhabitants.

Metropolitan Lagos which presently takes up about 37 percent of the area of Lagos State; is home to over 85 percent of the state population, and covers an area of about 1,183 km out of the 3,577km total area of Lagos State. An area of 455km of this is water body, wet land and mangrove swamps. Metropolitan Lagos is located on the South-Western coast of Nigeria along the Bight of Benin between Latitudes 60 and 70 North of the Equator and between Longitudes 30 and 40 East of Greenwich. (See Fig. 2) The central core (City of Lagos), which is the oldest part, covers an area of 70km.

Urbanisation in Lagos Metropolis

The Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos (1980-2000) anticipated that the metropolis will expand ultimately to about 3,885km, or about ten times its 1981 area extent, as Ikorodu and part of Badagry in Lagos State, and parts of Ogun State adjacent to Lagos; effectively become integral parts of the rapidly expanding metropolitan area.

The rapid population growth in Lagos Metropolis poses a number of problems in the urban area, which includes pressure on the land, shortage of housing and growth of slums, lack of housing finance, and failure of the urban community as a whole to adapt to changing conditions occasioned by the influx of migrants to its institutional and social services. The population increase has a direct impact on land use; it results in the demand for more land.

As at 1976, there was 16,177 hectares of built-up area in Metropolitan Lagos. Industry had occupied a significant proportion of the metropolis, and this gave rise to new problems such as heavy traffic and industrial pollution.

The Lagos Megacity Region

A megacity is a status conferred by the United Nations and the international system on cities with 10 million persons and above. It is a city with complex functions, and with ability to influence regional and global economies.

The Lagos mega-city region is largely the product of the current urbanization and globalisation process in Nigeria, with its promotion of the free market economy, information and communication technology, interstate and transnational corporations and high mobility of financial and human resources.

In response to protests of foreign investors that the state of security, sanitation and transportation within the Lagos mega-city region was a disincentive to their participation in the development of the country: a Presidential Committee on the redevelopment of the Lagos mega-city region was set up under Professor Akin L. Mabogunje.

The Lagos mega-city ranks first of the seven New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) African cities with an average population density of 20,000 persons per sq.km, and it has 28 activity centres. The Lagos Mega City Region has grown beyond metropolitan Lagos. It is the continuous built up area of Lagos from the Atlantic Coast spreading eastward, westwards and northwards beyond the boundaries of Lagos into Ogun State. The Lagos State portion of the Mega City Region, by 2000 A.D was estimated to be 130,700 hectares in area, with planned urban uses accounting for 63,100 hectares (i.e. 48 per cent of total) and non-urban land uses accounting for 67,500 hectares or 52 percent of the total. This portion incorporates 17 of Lagos States 20 Ogun State portion of the Region during the same period was estimated at 22,840 hectares, comprising 15,640 hectares for non-urban uses, such as agriculture, conservation/preservation, forest and water supply reserves, recreation, tourism and regional parks, while urban uses in Ogun State portion accounted for only 7,2000 hectares. By 2000, the planned area coverage of the Mega City region, both the Lagos and the Ogun State portions was thus 153,540 hectares.

Challenges Arising From the Rapid Urbanisation of Lagos Metropolis

Some of the challenges arising from the rapid urbanisation are: Urban Sprawl, Encroachment on Conservation Zone, Inadequate Basic Infrastructure and Communal Facilities, Inadequate Energy (Electricity), Inadequate Potable Water, Formation of Slums, Urban Road Transport Problems, Urban Traffic Congestion, Municipal Waste Management, Urban Violence, Change of Use / Illegal Development, and Impact of Industries.

Urban Sprawl and Encroachment on Conservation Zone

With the rapid population growth of Lagos Metropolis, physical expansion became inevitable. The suburbs continued to develop fast because land and accommodation for migrants was easier and cheaper to acquire there. The government agencies empowered to monitor and control development did not have adequate personnel and equipment to cope with this expansion. Consequently, the metropolis continued expanding, initially along major transport corridors. An example of urban sprawl is along Abeokuta Expressway where urban growth has merged Lagos State to Ogun State.

Pressure on land has also resulted in extensive reclamation works which invariably destroy the fauna and flora. Reclamation has been carried out in several parts of the metropolis, notably - Victoria Island, Lekki Peninsula, Amuwo Odofin New Town, Festac, and recently the Ogudu foreshore. Encroachment has also occurred on the areas zoned conservation belt in the Master Plan, by desperate private developers who wish to own landed property in Lagos Metropolis at all costs. This tremendous pressure on land has resulted in largely unmet demand for urban basic services such as water, sanitation, access roads, public transport, effective drainage, and efficient waste disposal.

Inadequate Basic Infrastructure and Communal Facilities

The rapid population growth of Lagos metropolis has resulted in tremendous pressure on the land; and a consequent inadequacy of basic infrastructure such as access roads, effective drainage and sewage system, public transportation, recreational and other communal facilities. Septic tanks and soak away pits are being used by individual developers for sanitary management.

Inadequate Energy (Electricity)

Lagos State accounts for 35-40 percent of national energy (electricity) consumption. The current estimated national demand for electricity is 10,000 megawatts, whereas, production is only about 3,500 megawatts. (Source: Energy Commission of Nigeria). Individual attempts to meet energy needs are mainly by the use of generating sets with the attendant noise and fumes pollution.

Inadequate Potable Water

Current projected demand for water in Lagos State is 650mgd (million gallons per day). The design capacity from all the water plants in the state is 150mgd, but production capacity is

130mgd. Efforts are being made by Lagos Water Corporation to: Curb wastage, Raise the supply by increasing the number of mini water works, and Initiate new water works to be built at Odomola, Epe to meet up the demand and to serve the Lekki corridor. Individual effort to source for potable water includes sinking of wells and boreholes.

Formation of Slums

The core area of the metropolis is Lagos Island, and continues to be a haven for migrants who prefer such locations for cheap access to their places of work. Some of the inner city residential areas are in a state of decay, due for urban renewal (See Photo 3). Extensive redevelopment has occurred in Lagos Island. Despite fragmentation of land ownership in Lagos Island; comprehensive redevelopment projects are now being jointly undertaken under the Public Private Participation Programme of the Lagos State government.

Urban Road Transport Problems

The phenomenal population growth in Lagos mega-city has aggravated the situation in the transport sector resulting in inadequacy of transport facilities and traffic congestion. The dangers resulting from the ubiquitous use of commercial motor-cycles pose a challenge to safety of lives.

Urban Traffic Congestion

In Lagos Island, almost all accesses are vehicular with fewer lanes and pedestrian malls.

They serve as regional and international centre of trade and are very busy. Traffic congestion occurs in some parts of Lagos Mega City, particularly at peak hours. Traffic congestion occurs in some parts of the Metropolis, particularly at peak hours. In Lagos Island, almost all accesses are vehicular with fewer lanes and pedestrian malls. They serve as regional and international centres of trade and are very busy.

Municipal Waste Management Problems

Lagos' share of the country's urban population is 30.8 percent (World Bank 1996). Hence, Lagos is managing over 30 percent of the country's municipal solid waste. With the concentration of national socio-economic activities, especially the presence of over 60 percent of the country's total industrial and commercial activities; the state is faced with grave urban crisis that is closely associated with municipal solid waste management. Consequently as the city expands with a population of about 17 million people, over 6,000 metric tonnes of municipal solid waste are generated daily. As such, the largest of the three dumpsites in Lagos with an area of 41.67 hectares at Olusosun, designed as a sanitary landfill site to take care of 1,000 metric tonnes of waste daily, is now over stretched as it receives over 6,000 metric tonnes daily.

Urban Violence

Crime and other aspects of urban violence manifest as a consequence of urbanisation and have a profound effect on the quality of urban life. The anonymity of urban life often encourages crime. Rural-urban migrants resort to crime when their expectations of socioeconomic upward mobility are not met; Gizewski (1995) identified three broad categories of urban conflict: political violence, communal or ethnic violence, and criminal or anomic violence. Urban violence has its root causes in the 20th century urbanisation process.

Change of Use and Illegal Development

In development planning, the Town Planner, based on the available physical data about the site and the socio-economic statistics, allocates land to different uses, taking cognisance of the projected population. The Development Plan also takes cognisance of all the needs of the community, allocating complimentary land uses adjacent to one another, and separating uncomplimentary uses. Thus the Development Plan becomes a major reference point for all future development for the community. If for instance, an area is zoned for residential, and is converted to a school or a place of worship; a Change of Use has occurred. Such a change of use should not occur unless an application has been made to the Planning Agency and the application has gone through the whole approval process, and received the consent of the affected community.

The term development as defined in the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law, Decree

88 of 1992 is "the carrying out of any building, engineering, mining or other operations in, or, over or under land, or the making of any environmentally significant change in the use of any land or demolition of buildings, including the felling of trees and the placing of freestanding erections used for the display of advertisements on the land."

Any development that does not have the planning permission of the relevant Town Planning Agency is classified as illegal development. The indiscriminate siting of temporary structures - used for dwelling or for commercial purposes, kiosks, and more recently metal containers, all constitute illegal development. Our government and the public are guilty of indiscriminate Change of Use. Thus, development control is dependent on the definition of development; if a particular operation falls within the definition of development, it requires planning permission.

The Impact of Industries

The disposal of industries waste is critical as it comprises effluent, and sometimes toxic/hazardous elements. Industrial wastes are often dumped along with household refuse and these results in derelict land. This aspect is being controlled by the State Government.

In addition, some industrial estates were originally located at the periphery of the Metropolis Such as the Ogba Industrial Estate; and over time, the metropolis has grown to meet it, eventually bringing residential development very close to (sometimes obnoxious) industry. At this point, the State Government is also enforcing protective environmental laws for residents of such estates.

In England, new cities grew with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century. Industries played a prominent role in the development of industrial based cities. Industrial entrepreneurs and corporate bodies are being encouraged to take up this role - to assist to develop new model residential / industrial estates and communal facilities in Lagos State in line with Public-Private Partnership policy. The situation in most Nigerian cities is that development has outpaced city management.

Origin of Modern Planning in Lagos

The quest to rid Lagos of slums began in the 1930s with the creation of the first Nigerian planning body, the Lagos Executive Development Board (LEDB). The first scheme is the Oko Awo Scheme which was followed by the Central Lagos Planning Scheme in the late '50s. With the execution of this scheme, the residents were resettled in Surulere in bungalows, detached houses, and multi-storey blocks of flats.

In addition, commercial centres were developed such as Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Centre, Falomo Shopping Centre, and several modern markets. Industrial estates were also developed at Apapa, Iganmu, Ijora, Ilupeju, Matori, Ikeja and Oregun. Later, more housing estates were developed by the successor of LEDB, - Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) at Isolo, Ilupeju, Gbagada, Victoria Island, Lekki, Ogba and Ojokoro. A new town was planned and developed at Amuwo - Odofin.

The Federal Government was also very active in planned development in schemes such as Festival Town (Festac), Satellite Town, and other Federal Housing Estates. Basic services were planned for residents in these estates, and the estates were generally well maintained.

In addition, both the Lagos State and Federal Governments allocated plots to individuals and corporate bodies for industrial, commercial and residential development. These are called "sites and services programmes".

The Lagos State Government in the last two decades commenced "the private developers' scheme" whereby individuals and corporate bodies are allocated large tracts of land, and are encouraged to develop such as housing estates. These sites are along the Lekki Expressway axis. An example is Victoria Garden City, located at Km 20 from Lagos Island.

The Nigerian Institute of Town Planners was founded in April 1966. Corporate members are in the academia, public service and in private service as consultants. Town Planners as well as allied professionals have been involved in the planning and execution of development projects.

Government Planning Efforts so Far

(i) 1964 Report on Metropolitan Lagos. The earliest study of Lagos as a Metropolis was by the United Nations for Technical Assistance, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs (led by Dr. Otto Koenigsberger). The Terms of Reference stated that all the development projects in Metropolitan Lagos should be considered in the context of the overall needs of the area. A fully coordinated development scheme was proposed.

(ii) Draft Master Plan for Lagos Metropolitan Area 1965-1985. This Report on a Draft Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos for the period 1965 - 1985 was completed by LEDB in 1972. It is the first alternative proposal for the development of Lagos Metropolitan Area, and it called for more detailed studies; The Master Plan to be prepared would plan for a potential labour force of 1.4 million persons. The movement of over a million persons per day is a considerable journey-to-work load.

(iii) Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos 1980-2000. In 1978, Wilbur Smith and Associates (Town Planning Consultants) was appointed as the United Nations Sub-Contractor to prepare a Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos. Working with Nigerian professionals, the Draft Final Lagos Metropolitan Master Plan 1980-2000 A.D. was prepared. The evaluation of concepts and alternative development schemes led to an urban growth strategy, which was refined to show the principal structural elements and the broad pattern of land use that was to be achieved by the year 2000; as the Metropolitan Area expands to accommodate a projected population of nearly 13 million. The Implementation, Monitoring and 5-yearly Review of this Master Plan was not adequately effected because personnel and equipment in the planning process were highly inadequate to cope with the phenomenal population explosion.

(iv) Presidential Committee for the Redevelopment of Lagos Mega-City Region. This Committee, inaugurated in December 2005, was to address issues arising from the phenomenal growth of metropolitan Lagos across the border of Lagos State into the adjoining Ogun State. Committee's Terms of Reference: Review the implementation of the 1981 Technical Report on common border problems between Lagos and Ogun States; Identify problems relating to security, traffic and transportation management, water supply, land use planning, infrastructure development and maintenance, urban renewal and slum upgrading; Propose solutions; Identify the role and responsibilities of key stakeholders in managing the Region; Recommend institutional and legal framework for Lagos and Ogun states and the Federal Government to manage the Region; Identify the management, information/organisational framework and funding; Propose timeframe for the implementation; Formulate policies relating to infrastructure development; and, Advise on private sector participation.

Urban Regeneration Programmes

A comprehensive Urban Renewal Programme covering 750 hectares made up of nine communities was launched in Lagos State in 2001 based on the World Bank Study (1995). One of the blighted communities is Makoko . The project is named "Trunk Infrastructure Delivery" and is a $200 million World Bank assisted project being presently managed by the State government agency - Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). The scope of the project includes solid waste management, drainage services, potable water supply, road construction and rehabilitation, and institutional support. The upgrading projects will be preceded by surveys. Out of a current estimate of 200 distinct slums in Lagos metropolis, 100 have been identified as severely blighted.

Community inclusion as part of the urban regeneration process, allows communities to prioritise their needs and inform the executing agency. Community slum upgrading studies is being continuously undertaken by the Lagos State Government for the improvement of other Identified communities. The impact of these interventions on the socially and environmentally degraded areas, and the institutional reforms of the state and local government capacity will re-establish them as functioning hubs of the Lagos Mega City.

Some Strategies Adopted

Community Inclusion: The livability of Lagos mega-city is a challenge to the Nigerian government (Federal, Lagos State and Local), the corporate world, professionals in the construction industry, and the communities.

The Nigerian Institute of Town Planners at National and State Chapter levels has on-going programmes to enlighten the government and the public on planning policies - financing, monitoring and implementation.

The Lagos State Government and the Consultants on Development Projects organise stakeholders' fora to include communities in the planning and decision making process; and on-going strategies consider the cosmopolitan background of the people of Lagos.

To mitigate the already identified environmental problems, a bottom-top approach rather than the traditional top-bottom approach is now in place at three levels - at the local level, the state level and the federal level.

At the Local level, planning is brought to the grass roots through public enlightenment programmes.

At the State level, policies distribute population and economic activities; and also implement development programmes such as public transport.

Extensive tree planting, safe pedestrianisation, better control of bill boards, landscaping and street furniture has been effected by the Lagos State government. Solar powered street lights have also been introduced.

At the National level, the policies deal with demographic and economic aspects. The collaboration will ameliorate national and inter-state environmental problems in the Lagos mega-city region.

Geographic Information System /Land Information System: With an effective GIS/LIS in place, dynamic tools and strategies will resolve complexities of land use that have outpaced management. Urban Planners and managers would have an aid to make day to day decisions. Urban management will mobilise diverse resources to work in a co-operative manner in the field of planning, programming, budgeting, development, operations and maintenance of settlements.

Financing Urban Management

Urban Management programmes are capital intensive, and there has always been a continuous dependence on government statutory allocations. A World Bank's suggested strategy of financing urban infrastructure and services in Nigeria is the use of property tax (World Bank 1996); and Public Private Participation. The World Bank has supported many developing countries to prepare town cadastres; that is town property registers which identifies the owner of each property and his payment status.


This presentation has highlighted the rapid urbanisation and environmental problems of Lagos Metropolis, the resultant Lagos mega-city, and the challenges of managing the situation. The efforts to redress the environmental challenges by the Lagos State Government and the professionals have also been noted. Legal empowerment exists for Town Planners to protect Nigerian cities from developing into slums and shanties. But this has to be backed by adequate institutional framework and finance.

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