For any smart nation, state or society, a large population is an asset and not a liability; this school of thought has stood the test of time in densely populated nations and cities of the world. From Cairo to Tokyo, from Paris to New York and from Mumbai to Manila, statistics has shown that authorities in these respective geographical enclaves made the best out of influx of people from different walks of life.
As a result, appreciable percentage contributions are made to their gross domestic products (GDP); a case in point is Egypt where transportation is built around Cairo to drive the nations multi-billion dollar tourism industry as well as New York where transportation/warehousing contributes over 22 percent to the city’s GDP.
In the case of Lagos which is Nigeria’s economic capital, the money spinning sector is left in the hands of the highly disorganised and volatile informal sector operators that over the years have grown to become behemoths too influential beyond government control.
This high level of impunity is traceable to patronage which the transport unions have enjoyed from politicians or political parties as the case may be. Little wonder why the sector’s contribution to Lagos’ GDP is negligible.
The rough estimate
Against the backdrop of an estimated 23 million population, and a population growth rate of 3.2% per annum; 2010 statistics from the African Association of Public Transport, (LAMATA, 2014) shows that about 2,600 km of roads in Lagos is being plied frequently and congested, with over 1 million vehicles on the roads on a daily basis.
Using rough estimates from six different locations in the city, not less than an estimated ₦282.6 billion internally generated revenue (IGR) of Lagos State’s Transportation Sector has been left in the hands of these operators advertently or inadvertently.
Has anyone wondered why a Lagos garage tout otherwise known as “Agbero” can have 9 kids showing off in Atlanta Georgia?
Sampling six locations; the average illegal tax on commercial motorcycles popularly called “okada” in Lagos is ₦600 per day, while the average illegal tax on tricycles also known as “Keke Marwa” is N1000 a day.
Average illegal tax on yellow buses (danfo) and high capacity buses known as “molue” is ₦3000 per day using the same six locations in Lagos.
There is a minimum of 120,000 motorcycles in Lagos taxed illegally, while a minimum of 120,000 tricycles in the city suffer the same fate everyday.
In the same vein, at least 145,000 registered “danfos” and “molues” in addition to the unregistered ones (roughly 250,000 automobiles) are taxed illegally.
These “Agberos” are very efficient in this illegal tax collection that they rarely miss. Below is a simple summary of what they smile home with:
Commercial motorcycles (Okada)
₦600×120,000 = ₦ 72,000,000 /day
Commercial tricycles (Keke Marwa)
Yellow buses (danfos) + high capacity buses (molues)
₦3000×250,000 = ₦ 750,000,000/day
Illegal taxes at stake per day in Lagos going by the above analyses equal to ₦942 million /day
Meanwhile, on annual basis the “Agberos” in Lagos stand to cash out:
(₦72m + ₦120m + ₦ 750,000) * 300 days annually =₦ 282.6 billion annually. Excluding public holidays and Sundays, some collect taxes on Sundays.
This humongous amount is 91% of the IGR of Lagos in 2017, also it represents over 27% of the 2018 Lagos State budget and at the same time more than the capital spending on education in Lagos since 1999. This cash is more than the IGR of all the 35 states individually.
If Lagos State takes just 50% of this cash and leave 50% to the “Agberos” we will fix our roads in 15 years maximum.
Over to the incoming Governor of Lagos. The recent violence that greeted the APC governorship campaign flag-off leaves one to wonder and ask, that with these kind of “cash,” are we surprised at the evil and the carnage?
Story by Segun Idowu