Since the 1970s, Lagos has witnessed some of the most rapid
urban population growth the world has ever seen. Even after losing its status
as Nigeria’s capital in 1990, its physical growth has remained unrivalled in
Africa, swallowing several border communities of neighbouring states and even
expanding into the Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Alongside this journey into
becoming a megacity and global hub have come several geographical changes and
infrastructure projects that are changing the face of this city forever. Here
is a look at some of the major changes and challenges that Lagos will be seeing
10 in 2027.

Rail Transport

Currently the only operational daily rail service in Lagos runs along the NRC’s
narrow gauge line linking Lagos with Kano via a number of stops along the
decades-old route. What this has meant is that the exploding volumes of
passenger and cargo transport that come with increased population have been
borne almost exclusively by the roads in Lagos. This is the reason for the
permanent traffic logjam and poor road conditions around the city. 2 major rail
lines under construction are set to change that within the next five years. The
Lagos Light Rail Blue Line linking Okokomaiko with Marina and the Lagos – Ibadan
Standard Gauge Railway are set to not only take substantial passenger and cargo
volumes off the roads, but also affect everything from property valuations to
future settlement patterns. The LLR Blue Line, which has been under
construction since 2007 has reached an advanced stage of completion, with only
the bridge linking Iddo to the Marina still under construction. After missing
several construction deadlines, testing is tentatively set to begin late 2019,
with the line opening to the public sometime in 2020. This line will give
commuters another way of reaching the Island CBD from the mainland, giving some
much-needed relief to the only 3 existing Island-Mainland road links in Lagos. The
construction is set to alter the physical appearance of Marina, Iddo and Ijora,
with new bridges and road links to service the new train stops. The Lagos –
Ibadan SGR on the other hand, will give people an alternative to living in what
is becoming an overcrowded city. Giving a throwback to when it was possible to
live in Ibadan and commute to work in Lagos daily, the rail line will run at a
maximum speed of 160km/h and also connect Abeokuta, once another popular
commuter city. Preliminary construction work has begun, with the line projected
to be completed by 2024.

Growth of Satellite
Town to Badagry Corridor 

As the Blue Line inches toward completion, there
is already a property speculation and development feeding frenzy underway along
its Mainland route spanning Satellite Town to Okokomaiko, and even further
beyond its last stop, up to the Seme international border in Badagry. The
palpable excitement is because this corridor is set to become the first genuine
commuter belt in Nigeria, and it still has a large stock of relatively cheap
and undeveloped land available. The Lagos State government is also constructing
a 10-lane highway concurrently and planning to integrate the bus and train
stops with the overall LAMATA transport masterplan for Lagos. What this means
in plain English is that in an area that is the last untouched area of Lagos
State with lots of cheap land available, a world class transportation nexus is
set to become active, bringing billions of Naira in property investment, trade,
hospitality and infrastructure.
If the Lekki-Epe corridor was once the new frontier of
Lagos,the Badagry Expressway corridor is now definitely positioned to take up
that mantle and run with it for a much longer period. For one thing, unlike the
sandy, soft, unsuitable land that most of Lekki is built on with attendant
issues like unusable borehole water, the Badagry corridor is mostly made up of
dry, packed land perfect for building permanent structures and conventional
roads. The sheer size of the available area up for development is also
mouth-watering for those in the property business, with several developers
scrambling to lay their claim to parcels of land for housing estates, retail
establishments and waterfront hospitality developments. By 2027, the urban
sprawl of Lagos will have reached its physical border with Benin Republic.

Rents and Property
Valuation Continue Upward Trend 

Despite the uptick in property supply
that the building boom sparked by new transport infrastructure will cause,
rental and sales valuations for property in ‘decongesting’ areas will not decrease. One major reason for this
is that said decongestion is likely to be marginal. Realistically, there will
not be a great migration of people from high density accommodation in Yaba to
new builds in Ojo, just because there is now a shiny new rail link from there
to the Island. The people who will make the switch are likely to first of all
be those who can afford to buy their own property, taking advantage of
comparatively cheap initial house prices in the newly opened up areas.These are
not the people who cause the blight of congestion in Lagos because as a group,
they are maybe 1.5% of the city’s total population. The vast majority of daily
commuters in Lagos are struggling renters who do not have the wherewithal to
immediately up sticks and move across the city.
In addition the way property valuation is carried out in
Lagos is very heavy on speculation and hope, as against actual value.It is
unlikely that a landlord in Okoko close to a Blue Line station will offer a
2-bedroom flat for N200,000 while an equivalent in Yaba costs N400,000. Over
and above all this, there is the fact that an estimated 80 people migrate into
Lagos every hour, so regardless of any uptick in supply, it is unlikely to
overturn the market balance which is firmly weighted in favour of excess
demand. The only way property prices can ever come down in Lagos is through a
government intervention to construct and market subsidized housing, which will
cool the market down. In the absence of this, prices will only continue
trending upward.

Mainland Bridge Will Still be the Main Artery of Lagos 

37 years after
being opened in 1990, 3rd Mainland Bridge will still be the main
link between Island and Mainland in 2027. Despite the Blue Line linking the
Mainland to Marina, the majority of the vehicular traffic commuting across this
bridge daily will not reduce significantly. This is because the vast majority
of the vehicles making the commute are private vehicles conveying upwardly
mobile people who will always prefer to make use of their own private
transportation regardless. Perhaps there will be a slight reduction in the
volume of public transport buses plying the route as those commuters use the
rail service instead, but this will barely make a dent into the amount of
vehicular traffic on 3rd Mainland.
Lagos as a whole was built around its roads, not giving much
allowance for large scale rail transport unlike New York or London, so until
the 4th Mainland Bridge is constructed, 3rd Mainland
Bridge will continue to be the most important route for people moving around
Lagos everyday. At present, the prognosis for the 4th Mainland
Bridge does not look great, with the state government yet to close on a
financing arrangement. Even the most optimistic estimates put the project
construction duration at about 7 years. When you compare that with 3rd
Mainland, which took 11 years to complete despite being less than half the
length of the proposed bridge, it does not look great.

Eko Atlantic will
Exist Completely Parallel to the Chaos of Lagos 

Nestled in a comfortable
cul-de-sac the size of Victoria Island off the coast of Lagos, Eko Atlantic
will continue to rise out of the sand, populated almost exclusively by the
super-rich and expatriates. Home to most of West Africa’s finance industry and
blue chip business establishments, the city will be by far the most exclusive
part of Lagos, with entre heavily restricted and regulated. Even now at an
early stage of completion, entry into the city is heavily restricted, with the
area given special autonomous status by the state government, including its own
law enforcement, utilities and building codes.
Critics have contended that the location of the city at the
mouth of Ahmadu Bello Way will cause an interminable traffic jam of vehicles
coming in and going out on what is already an extremely busy and small
thoroughfare. What they do not reckon with is that Eko Atlantic is not being
built to be a part of ‘Lagos’ at all, and its developers have been very upfront
about this. There has even been talk of giving new residents a special
orientation program to teach them how to live and behave within the city
limits. It is built to function as a completely self-sustaining entity with its
own schools, hospitals, leisure establishments, hotels and heliports. This is
not a new suburb of Lagos, but a new city in its own right, which just happens
to have geographical proximity to Lagos.
In summation,  Lagos
will look very much like it does now, hosting an even greater number of people
and increased wealth concentration. It will also still suffer from an
infrastructure deficit, with the main difference from today being an increased
convergence of services like water, power and sewage treatment in the newer
housing developments slowly springing up.

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