Our weekend in Lagos, and beyond

Our team took a short break from our transportation project this weekend to help the local community. One of our local IBMers is part of a group that helps feed disabled and needy people in Lagos each Saturday. So our team helped deliver 500 meals to people who really need them — including a community of blind and disabled people. They also took us to somewhat remote sections of the city where people typically live on $1 a day.

This also gave us an opportunity to see how many people in Lagos live, everyday. I think we all knew that it’s a difficult situation in Lagos in terms of poverty, but it’s very different when you see it first hand. Below are some photos of the people/neighborhoods we visited and delivered meals to. They were all extremely grateful, and even given their surroundings, many of them have smiles on their faces.

Local family disabled man cute girl 2 mom and girls  kids with mom boy in blue neighborhood mom and baby men food little girl kids with candy happy kids grandma working fish on head feeding woman

On Sunday, we took our first trip outside of the city. We visited a national park type area called Olumo Rock and the nearby town ,Abeokuta. It was nice to get outside of the city and see some of the natural beauty of Nigeria. But we also got a hard lesson in the traffic congestion challenges here. It took us roughly 90 minutes to get there, and nearly 5 hours to return. The traffic coming back to Lagos was bad, but it seems that the people here tend to make it worse.

Since the traffic heading into Lagos was practically at a standstill, people simply started moving to the other side of the road/highway. Just imagine this in the U.S. or other parts of the world. Traffic is backed up, so cars start moving into oncoming traffic until they take over that side of the road as well. Play that out in your head. At some point, there was total chaos where the traffic flowing in the CORRECT direction (out of the city), met the ILLEGALLY flowing traffic, head to head. All of those cars on the wrong side then had to merge onto the correct side of the road. Police were there, but there wasn’t much they could do beside try to get cars flowing in the right direction.

It’s Monday and we’re back to the task at hand…..working with the local government to build a smarter transportation system. Before they get too sophisticated, they do need to address some of the basics like potholes, and chaotic situations like we were part of last night.

Here is a view from the top of Olumo Rock:

view from rock

And our team with some of the locals there:

team with women

#smartercities Challenge



Filed under Lagos, Nigeria

2 responses to “Our weekend in Lagos, and beyond

  1. Jörg Winkelmann

    Reading your report about the traffic chaos it reminds me of similar situations I have been in before. It’s both, about the basic infrastructure as well as culture and behaviors.

  2. John H

    Thanks Matt for taking the time to share your experiencing. Amazing.