The Lagos State Governor, Babjide Sanwo-Olu said his administration is planning to institutionalise ‘car-free day’ as a way of combating climate change. This was disclosed over the weekend at the inauguration of the Lagos ‘Car Free Day’. However, it is clear that this is part of the initiatives that member nations of the Methane Pledge are to “voluntarily” come up with.
While claiming that the aim is to introduce alternative means of transportation to the people such as waking, cycling, public transportation like the BRT, lagride, Yellow buses, etc, (which in themselves are not new in any way as they are being employed from day to day), the governor, through his Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Frederic Oladehinde saliently admitted that the goal is to reduce Carbon emission which, in its real sense does not exist; because the whole nation and other African and Asian states only emit about 0.55% of the global carbon emission.
Alledging that the citizens and Residents of Lagos will be introduced to non-motorised form of transportation, the governor said: “no doubt, non- motorised transportation is of immense benefit to a state like ours with huge vehicular activities which contributes significantly to environmental pollution with its attendant effect on the health and wellbeing of our citizens. Although cars are of immense benefit, they also contribute a dangerous amount of pollution. So having a day-off comes highly recommended and we would see how we can institutionalise the car free day. It is something we will be doing every year. Nothing is impossible in Lagos; I can assure you that we would push for it. For us to understand why this day is important, it is vital to understand air pollution and how vehicles contribute to this.
“We have also begun a non- motorised master plan where we work with the ministry of physical planning to see how we can bring back the pedestrian and walk-ways in most of our estates. We have mapped out some areas where we will do lane marking.” The Commissioner said as part of the initiatives to combat climate change, the Sanwo-Olu administration has started building walkways along Catholic Mission Street, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos and drafting of policies that will favour non-motorised means of transportation.
However, as laudable as the initiatives seem, the responses from the people clearly show that there are better things that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration could focus its resources, time, and energy on. Pointing out the prolonged ASUU strike as an example, Ms. Obong said the resources that the Government want to spend on the building of walkways, doing lame markings, etc could be converted to the state’s contribution in the payment of the lecturers’ salary. ” The subtle threat of enforcing the people to use other means of transportation is totally not necessary. The cost of transportation is already high as is; and the available ones are not enough for those employing such means at the moment. Needless to say is the fact that it is more cost effective to ride your own car than the commercial means.”
Reacting to the issue of air pollution raised by the governor through his Minister and the Project Manager, Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDU), Mr. Yinka Jones, Madam Ibukun, an entrepreneur said the commercial vehicles are the ones that default the most ; ” no car owner wants to be in the net of the VIO in Lagos; everyone wants to make sure that the car s/he is driving is in good shape at all times. You do not find private cars releasing soot; but you can bet that it is common with the commercial buses. Secondly, it is rather ludicrous to compare air pollution in Lagos to some major cities like Beijing and Mumbai because they are not on the same level at all. There are so many differences that must be put into consideration before doing such. Nigeria does not need to make Carbon Emission a priority in our nation building at all, let alone the state building because we are not a major Carbon emitter in spite of the high vehicular activities. We have bigger and more important fishes to fry and they require very urgent attention too.”
Many said it appears the visit of the Governor to the US has a part to play in the push because the US is in bed with the FG in developing initiatives in favour of the Methane Pledge mandate which states that: “Participants joining the Pledge agree to take voluntary actions to contribute to a collective effort to reduce global methane emissions at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, which could eliminate over 0.2˚C warming by 2050.” The people see this to be nothing that the Government should concern itself with among many other things. Tree planting is a very simple solution to the matter which will not require depriving people of the ease of movement or doing business in the capital city.