Lagos Observes ‘Car Free Day’ to Promote Cleaner Air
September 27, 2022 - Written by Ahmed ALI

Nigeria’s economic hub of Lagos is the most congested city in Africa and has some of its worst air pollution. To highlight the problems, Lagos authorities on Sunday held the first Car Free Day, asking drivers to instead walk or ride a bicycle.


Cyclist Dimeji Olawale pulled out his electric-powered bicycle early Sunday morning to join colleagues in the Lagos state capital, Ikeja — the venue for the state’s first Car Free Day.


The initiative is jointly organized by Lagos State authorities and local nonprofit groups promoting cleaner air.


Roads were blocked to prevent vehicular movements while participants jogged, walked and cycled freely.


During the event, Lagos State authorities pledged to make it an annual commemoration. Authorities said it’s part of an already ongoing effort to encourage more nonmotorized transportation in the state.


Olawale said cycling was his way of encouraging the initiative.


“We promote e-bikes, and we encourage and support our communities to go entirely carbon-free,” Olawale said. “Everyone can work together in our bid to fight climate change.”


Lagos is rated as the most congested city in Africa and is among the worst globally, according to the Traffic Index by the website Numbeo.


Lagos is commonly known for the large numbers of yellow-colored vehicles swarming narrow roads.


While Car Free Day was held mostly in Ikeja, it was not observed elsewhere in the state.


But organizers like Dennis Kange, an official from the African Cycling Foundation, said that will change soon.


“For a city like Lagos, vehicular transport is not a sustainable way of moving people,” Kange said. “And with the implementation and awareness about nonmotorized transport policy, more people can become aware that you don’t always have to drive. Driving has other effects, like carbon emissions, obesity. It can affect our environment, our health.”


Lagos State resident Chidimma Nwanekezie participated in the event.


“It’s not a situation whereby the road is just for people who have cars,” Nwanekezie said, “but we’re able to share the road with other people who do not have cars — bikers, cyclers and even people who used the pedestrian walkway.”


Between 1990 and 2019, the impact of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere in Nigeria has increased by more than 270 percent, according to the International Energy Association.


Nigerian authorities said last week that more than 300 people died from flooding, and 100,000 have been displaced this year. Lagos State is among the states affected.


For now, authorities said they will be working to modify other modes of transportation and will encourage citizens to commit to cleaner and more sustainable urban transport.