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The bill setting up the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) was signed into law on 13 January 2002 by the then Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (1999 – 2007). The law empowered LAMATA with the responsibility of reforming the transport system in Lagos with the aim of creating a world-class intermodal integrated transport system for the emerging megacity.
Prior to the establishment of LAMATA, the public transport system in Lagos was dysfunctional and unregulated. Lagos had a population estimated at over 10 million in 2000, and projected, although conservatively, to grow to more than 25 million by 2015. However, transport infrastructure and services were at levels that supported a population of no more than six million. As a result, levels of efficiency and productivity in the metropolitan area had been adversely affected by a growing weakness in the physical infrastructure required to support the basic needs of the population.
The road network density, at about 0.4 km/1000 population, for example, was quite low even by African standards. The provision of bus public transport was highly fragmented with multiple private operators, operating small sized buses of poor quality and with absence of any management or a regulatory authority. Despite the city’s size, there were no organised mass transit systems. The quality of public transport in Lagos State had degenerated over time, especially after movement of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja. Like any other state in Nigeria, Lagos State lacked institutional capacity and adequate funding for the management of transport infrastructure to meet the demand of its teeming population.
Public transport environment: Public transport operation in Lagos is almost entirely owned and managed by the private sector—principally individuals owning one or two second-hand vehicles that they rent out to drivers on a daily basis. The existing bus fleet, estimated at 75,000 Minibuses (danfo), make up the bulk of the fleet, and their numbers are rising as the number of midi-buses (molue) dwindles. Every danfo and molue is affiliated with one of two main transport unions – National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN)- the largest being the NURTW.
Until very recently, buses accounted for almost 70% of the share of motorized person trips (3% BRT, 67% unregulated buses), the taxis and private cars accounted for about 20%, rail and water 1% and the remaining 9% accounted for by motorcycles, locally known as okada. The existing public transport vehicles prior to the establishment of LAMATA were often recklessly driven, not roadworthy, and contribute heavily to pollution. However, they are an integral part of the Lagos public transport system and most Lagosians still use them in the absence of alternatives, with close to 20 million trips made daily in the city. Despite poor service conditions and low availability, the cost of public transport was huge, costing on average, over 30% of household’s disposable income.
Key challenges in the Lagos public transport system
The major challenges in the Lagos public transport system are:
(a) Insufficient, poorly managed and unregulated services and weak infrastructure base;
(b) Lack of clear and coherent policies; and
(c) Weak institutional structure.
Many of the observed shortcomings in the transportation system in Lagos stem from the sector’s management weaknesses. These include: (i) absence of a well-articulated and adopted policy and strategic framework for the sector; (ii) fragmentation and duplication of institutional responsibilities among various agencies at the three levels of government; (iii) lack of inter-agency co-ordination among the various bodies; and (iv) absence of standard procedures for the technical and economic evaluation of programs and projects.
Recognizing the need to improve the transport sector in Lagos State, a number of studies were conducted in the 1990s to define appropriate solutions. The Lagos Mass Transit and Transport Systems (LMTS) Management Program study was undertaken in 1992. The study, which sets out to identify actions necessary to address the complex transport situation in Lagos, had as one of its major recommendations, the creation of LAMATA to coordinate transport policies, programs and actions of all agencies at different tiers of government.
The Detailed Framework for the establishment of LAMATA followed LMTS in 1996. The Detailed Framework considered functions and responsibilities of existing LASG transport-related Ministries\Departments\Agencies (MDAs), and in this context, proposed LAMATA’s role, including its core functions, organisational structure, resource requirements and relationship with stakeholders.
LAMATA is envisioned to provide a strategic planning platform to address long neglected transport needs of the metropolis and coordinate activities of the different executing agencies to provide a common and consistent basis for implementation.
LAMATA was established as a semi-autonomous corporate body with perpetual succession and an independent board responsible for formulation, coordination and implementation of urban transport policies and programmes in the Lagos metropolitan area. As previously noted, the authority was created by a State Law (LAMATA Law) that became effective on January 13, 2002.
The Authority has the overall responsibility for transport planning and coordination in the Lagos metropolitan area with the primary mandate to play a lead role and assist in transport policy formulation and coordination of major operational and investment decisions and implementation.
The law grants LAMATA several powers to facilitate the discharge of its statutory functions, including the power to levy and collect user charges in connection with the provision of its services and to collect any other tariffs, fees and road taxes as may be authorized by the Governor.
LUTP Preparatory Office: Prior to inception of LAMATA in October 2003, Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP) preparatory office was established within the Governor’s Office in 2000. The LUTP office received a grant from the Japanese Development Agency for the conduct of various studies undertaken towards the preparation of LUTP Phase One.