Lagos traffic jams disappear. But this isn’t good news for Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos feels different, the boisterous – often chaotic – energy that drives Nigeria’s commercial centre has been subdued by the removal of a fuel subsidy that had kept the price of petrol low for decades in Africa’s largest economy.

Since June, fuel costs have tripled, leading transport fares to shoot up and forcing many employees to return to the pandemic era by working from home.

Many private cars are off the roads. And with fewer passengers to tussle over, some of the yellow, fume-belching buses, pride of the city’s eternal hustle spirit, now idle at motor parks.

The notorious miles-long traffic jams have drastically reduced.

This bustling city of an estimated 20 million people is quieter, but for once, that is not a good thing.

What Lagos has gained in tranquillity it has lost economically since President Bola Tinubu abruptly ended the supply of cheap fuel in his first day in office at the end of May.

Oil-rich Nigeria, he said, could no longer afford to subsidise petrol which was costing billions of dollars a year.

Mr Tinubu also ended currency restrictions that had been put in place by the previous government, and while many experts agree that it was the right thing to do, it has led to a weakening of the local currency.

The double whammy of rising fuel costs and a weak currency has sent the economy into a tailspin, and nowhere is the biting hardship more apparent than in Lagos – a commercial behemoth that is often a snapshot of the rest of the country.

Many small businesses have packed up, and some low-income earners who live in the suburbs of the mainland and commute to the business districts on Lagos Island have stopped going to work.

Source : BBC News

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