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NIGERIA: Lagos traffic is a harbinger of frustration that has waged out its citizen’s mental health

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes below.

Photo credit: Pulse Nigeria

Apart from being a city that attracts indigenes from across the country, Lagos is known to be home to several expatriates, and they have attested that it is vibrant, colourful and fun [1]. However, fun is relative especially when it is short-lived, and you can only find it in the comfort of your home or at the cost of several hours spent going around the city searching for a bubbling spot.

In Lagos State, the minimum wage for civilians is NGN 30,000 naira recently increased to NGN 37,000[2] by the state governor, Sanwo-Olu, that is approximately $83 dollars per month, an all-time low for a supposedly mega-city in Nigeria. Lagos states current GDP is valued at $136 billion[3] and there is an intention to increase this figure by 4 % but at what cost? More road congestions, more mental health problems and unproductivity at the workplace. It is a harbinger of frustration. Many Lagosians have continued to cry out to the government to solve the problem of transportation as not many can afford owning a personal car. But the sad truth is, owning a private car are regarded as symbols of wealth and a luxury. A few lagosians purchase cars to avoid being sandwiched in public buses also known as danfo which are mostly unkempt and in bad shape.

On social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, jokes have been cracked that ‘If you can survive in Lagos, you can survive in any part of the world’. This survival is connected to the daily bouts with traffic and congestion on the roads and its contributory factor to behavioural changes to all road users. It has also translated to businesses and business owners as well, resulting in a drop in financial power and a rise in mental health issues[4]. Each day, once you leave the confines of your office and arrive home, oftentimes, fatigue sets in and it does not necessarily come from your job but from the long hours spent in traffic. The population of the city has increased with an addition of 3.1 million people in about 8 years[5]. This has consistently contributed to the traffic slowdowns and leads to an impact on air quality as a result of vehicle emissions and carbon footprint, a disruption in the quality of life that we live and quiver in overall business activities affecting additional costs, suppliers and customer markets.[6]

Unlike first world countries in the world, the employment system is quite different as most jobs require a 9 – 5 straight working time and an hour for lunch break. According to a paper written by the world bank in 2009, an estimated 8 million[7] people commute to work daily in Lagos state. My experience was 8 – 6 and if you left at exactly 6 pm, you would get a menacingly look by your supervisor for being cunny.

'By the time Lagos people get to work, they are already tired’.

This was a commented posted by a concerned citizen on the twitter platform to express his frustration regarding the intense traffic gridlocks that tours the city of Lagos.

It begs the question, is it not better to work from home, avoid the large train of traffic, turn in your work by e-mail, meet once or twice a week to discuss relevant issues, that way you save time (the number of hours spent in the traffic daily amounts to 10 hours per day), save money (more traffic hours consumes a great deal of petrol). There are several companies taking advantage of social media to handle company affairs, boycott the traffic and still ensuring their staff is kept in the loop of what is happening. An example of such companies is Paystack, a start-up company in Lagos that provides online payment facilities to merchants and others by way of an API and a few lines of code[8].

The traffic congestion is currently costing the Lagos business community alone $30.5 million[9] naira monthly and if that is multiplied by the number of months in the year, that would total $366 million and if you subtract that from the calculated GDP for the year, you would realise that something drastic must be done to curtail the traffic situation before it runs dry of the city’s capital.

Rachael Wanogho (Africa)




A Quick Guide to living and working in Lagos by Fay Campbell (29/12/2017) WRS, 2016 ( accessed 28 November 2019

Employees in Lagos are stressed, burned out and exhausted because of 'hellish traffic' by Shakir Akorede for (CNN, 2019) Market Place Africa ( accessed 25 November 2019

Sanwo-Olu approves N35k as minimum wage for Lagos civil servants by Bayo Wahab for (Pulse Nigeria, 2019) ( accessed 27 November 2019

Social and Economic Opportunities of Moving to Lagos (Cool Geography, 2015) ( accessed 25 November 2019


Economic Intelligence Unit, Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, ‘The Socio-economic costs of Traffic Congestion in Lagos’ (pg 4 - 5) No. 2 July 2013.

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