When it Rains in Lagos, Cars Swim

headline 2

It’s rainy season in Lagos. And if you’re in Lagos right now, you know when we talk about rain we don’t mean some pleasant dancing-in-the-rain rain. We’re talking tropical rainforest showers that transform the city. The rain comes down in torrents like the sky just ate hot yam and is trying to dump its contents asap (trying some Chinua-Achebe-ism 😀 ).

At any rate, rain in Lagos is a serious issue. Let me highlight a few reasons why. First, traffic. Why? One of the main reasons is that many major roads do not have operational drainage systems and cannot cope with the onslaught when it comes. Herbert Macaulay anyone? Or Abeokuta Expressway? Or Apapa-Osodi Expressway? I can see you nodding your head 😉 . These roads get flooded and make it very difficult for cars to navigate. And traffic slows to a snail’s pace because you don’t go speeding through a puddle that’s all the way up to your tires. We can’t even call that “puddle” anymore, but can’t think of a better word. And this is how cars begin to swim or become semi-submarines.

A lot of our roads just can’t manage the amount of water being dumped on them. Now, there will be times when mother nature sends showers that our man-made infrastructure just can’t deal with. After-all floods happen allover the world, even in the most advanced countries. But in Lagos’ case, it has become routine.

Usher in the potholes. Again, nothing new here. Potholes are the stuff of the roads in Lagos. You’re more likely to be surprised that there are none than there are some. But put rain in the mix, and again turn up the notches. Why? There’s this beautiful thing called erosion where sand is eaten away by water. Erosion transforms 1-inch deep holes into 2 inches; 2 inch ones to 5 inches, 5-inch ones 1 ft and so on. You get the picture. Sometimes the Ministry of Works is really efficient and patches the holes up almost as soon as they are formed. But put together heavy rains, vehicular movement, and poor quality of the repair and you get a bigger hole than you started with. i can personally testify to one on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. There was a decent-sized hole at the U-Turn (some metres opposite Alausa) a few weeks ago which got patched up pretty quickly. Now? It’s a crater. I’d like to exaggerate and say it’s of UFO dimensions, but I won’t. It’s just really huge.

These two factors make for horrendous motoring conditions. The traffic congestion that ensues is the stuff of nightmares, really. No, heavy traffic is not new in Lagos. Come rain or shine there will be some form of jam or the other in the city. But I can categorically say that the intensity of traffic jams turns up a few notches when it rains (it’s a “gba be” [take-it-as-it-is] situation).

This is what happens after 10 minutes of heavy rain on parts of Abeokuta Expressway

This is what happens after 10 minutes of heavy rain on parts of Abeokuta Expressway

The Ministry of Environment sent out a press release advising “intensive cleaning of drainages in flood-prone areas. But I’m wondering who by? Lagosians are supposed to take to the streets and start clearing out gutters? They’re also appealing to the public to stop throwing litter on the road – as all the garbage piles up and ends up blocking gutters and such. But to my thinking that is all just medicine after death. What happens to already-blocked gutters and roads that flood after just 10 minutes of heavy rain? This flooding issue has to be tackled more aggressively than that.

Full gutters along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway

Full gutters along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway


So, what to do? Drainage, drainage, drainage! Please, drainage!  It’s so crucial to the general development of Lagos. Discussing this extensively would make a discouraging-to-read-word-count. So, I’ll just make a few points.

This post has focused mainly on the effect rain has on vehicular movement. But that’s just one part of the story. Imagine what this situation does for pedestrians! Pedestrians don’t even have enough pavement as it is to navigate through Lagos as discussed in this other post. Add this rain situation, and don’t even bother going out on foot. If you pay attention to the urban theory world, there are many strong advocates saying that the city if the future is walk-able. So far, so bad for Lagos in that regard.

The second point I would like to make is concerning a possible solutions to this issue. If the LASG decides to start digging up roads (major or not) around the city to rectify the drainage problem, it’s going to cause serious upheaval. No jokes. The lamentations about traffic are already too much, we can only imagine what it’ll turn to. Plus, they’re aren’t ough alternative routes to most places anyway. So what to do? Committed to creative solutions, I’ve come up with this wacky interesting idea 😀 😀 😀 See sketch below 😉 I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

The air drain: my idea to solve Lagos drainage problems without digging up roads and causing havoc :-D

The air drain: my idea to solve Lagos drainage problems without digging up roads and causing havoc 😀

I’m sure many people have other pictures, rants, comments, ideas about the Lagos-rain topic. BYU wants to hear from you! Please comment and share your pics on our Facebook and Twitter pages; like, follow, and subscribe!

UPDATE: The crater on Lagos-Ibadan expressway has been patched up again.

Pictures were taken in collaboration with Just A Smile Productions (Contact: 0706 963 5360 or laolu.smile@gmail.com)

Èkó ò ní bàjé!

2 thoughts on “When it Rains in Lagos, Cars Swim

  1. The ‘river’ that forms from just few minutes of rainfall around Ile-Epo (along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway) is something I’m quite familiar with. It rains for 30 minutes around Ile-Epo bus-stop (as seen in the first two pictures above), just get your boats and canoes out.

    iLike the air drain idea, really nice! I have always questioned the intelligence of the road contractors and the Ministry in charge of roads in Lagos and some other parts of Nigeria. Its like they just pour some black sand on the ground and glue it together (Lol) and think that’s all there is to road construction.

    Another observation is that most of these roads mentioned above are Federal roads and you know this FG vs State ‘Don’t touch my roads’ nonsense.

    I hope somebody would start thinking right like you are.

    Great piece. Well-done!

    • Haha @ black sand and glue! Thanks so much for this. And you’re so right, I didn’t consider the Federal vs State roads angle. Will definitely put that into consideration now. 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *