Lagos, Nigeria is already struggling with overpopulation problems.
There is widespread poverty, poor sanitation, pollution and perhaps the
worst traffic in the world. And the worst may be yet to come. The
United Nations projects that by the year 2015 the population will grow
to 20 million, making it the third largest city in the world. But, city
officials are surprisingly optimistic about the future. They say Lagos
has nowhere to grow but up.
For many in Nigeria's largest city,
traffic congestion has become a symbol of the country's inability to
keep up with its rapidly growing population. Lagos' population
currently is listed at over 14 million people but some local officials
estimate there are as many as 18 million. But Opeyemi Bamidele the
Lagos State Public Information Commissioner says overpopulation is not
"We do not believe that any nation can be
overpopulated because part of our strength lies in our population, part
of our strength lies in our diversity," he said."
what is needed is good governance, providing traditional government
services, like picking up the trash and fixing roads, and development.
says the recently developed bus rapid transit system or BRT, a
dedicated main traffic lane for buses, is the beginning of a long-term
But the city's most ambitious plan is to construct
shopping and office complexes, to attract foreign investment and
transform Lagos into a modern metropolis. The only thing that stands in
the way of development is the people who live on this land. One such
project is a three-story shopping mall being constructed in the busy
market section of Victoria Island.
Lagos Finance Commissioner
Rotimi Oyekan says the land owners, mostly market vendors, have been
incorporated into development plans.
"We are providing them an
opportunity to stay where they are in a new environment," he said. "Now
that goes a long way, in saying yes, in every class we care. It's not
just for the rich. It is also for the not so rich or the
Mustafa Atobajeun and more than 40 families
own the property being developed on Victoria Island. They have been
temporarily relocated to another part of the city. He says the
government has promised they will have shops in the new building,
collect rent from the tenants, and own the developed property in 30
years. But he says the government also promised to provide a place to
sell their goods during the transition, but that has not happened and
they are struggling to survive.
"I want to bring this to your
notice that whatever the government has promised us, they should
fulfill it to the letter," he said.
Finance Commissioner Oyekan says the government will fulfill its promises.
Lagos we believe in continuity. It is one of our cardinal principals,"
he said. "The people's faith in government must never be shaken and we
hope to carry that into the future."
While this development plan
sounds too good to be true to Atobajeun and other land owners, they see
little choice but to go along. They say to survive Lagos must create
some order from the chaos of this overcrowded city.