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Public Transport in Africa’s Largest City with Oluwaseun Sonoiki

In the first episode of our fifth series of Reimagining Motion we talk with Oluwaseun “Seun” Sonoiki, legal counsel at the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). We explore the challenges of coordinating and expanding transport in one of Africa’s most rapidly urbanising cities.

Below is an excerpt of the conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Holger Dalkman

So thanks for also joining the podcast today. So as I mentioned, you have worked for LAMATA for more than a decade already. So tell us a little bit more about the situation currently in Lagos. What’s the city’s infrastructure like? What are some of your main challenges?

Seun Sonoiki

Okay, so Lagos has a population of about 22 million people. It is the largest state in Nigeria and one of the fastest growing megacities in the world. It’s the sixth largest city in Africa and the fastest growing city in Nigeria. So the cities’ transportation infrastructure is being stretched to cater for its booming population. 

We have over 80% of its residents said to be dependent on public transport. We have a chaotic traffic congestion along most routes and this proves the existing transport systems inadequate for future urban population growth and puts increasing pressure on current services and infrastructure.


So 80% of the people are using public transport and Lagos was in fact also the first one setting up also a bus rapid transit. So a system also with its own transport infrastructure and corridors. But also you have, I assume, also quite a lot of other forms of public transport. Share a little bit more about what is on your streets.


So we have a variety of informal service providers such as the Molue, the Molue has been there for over many years since I was a child and this is a 60 seater bus. We also have the Danfos. Danfos, come in the 14 seater and the 18 seater buses. 

We have what we call the Korope. These ones are the smaller buses, they carry at least or not more than seven passengers on the bus and then we have three wheelers. The three wheelers are the ones we call the Keke Napep, you know the tricycles. And we also have the Okadas, which are motorcycles. 

So aside from the BRT and other modes of transport that we have, we also have these listed ones and these informal operators are private sector providers covering both interstate and intrastate, transport services.


So that sounds like a very complex and challenging situation, particularly for an agency like yours. So tell us a little bit more about what LAMATA is actually doing. Tell us more about it as a shining example for African transport management.


So what LAMATA is doing and what it was set up for was to provide a solution to the traffic, the chaotic traffic congestion that we have in the State. LAMATA was set up by law in 2003 to provide for public transport infrastructure and also to regulate public transport infrastructure.

So by this, we have introduced a BRT and recently introduced a rail blue line as well as a red line system. We also provide for non-motorised transport infrastructure. So we’ve put all of these in place. We are not doing too badly in terms of moving people. We realise that 22 million trips are done in Lagos daily and this spreads across all modes of transport. However, 40% is walking and cycling the rest is motoried. So this makes it approximately 13 – 14 million motorised trips daily. So LAMATA is providing a solution to traffic congestion by ensuring a multi-modal integrated transport system.