By Tayo Ogunbiyi
ACCORDING to the creation story in Genesis Chapter 1, the first thing that God created was light. This is to actually authenticate the place of light in human existence. Life and light are inextricably connected. We cannot imagine our life without light. From the first ray of Sun in the morning to the lamp in the night, light accompanies us in all our daily activities. Light, no doubt, is essential to life on earth. Without it, there would, probably, be no life. Like the African proverb that alludes to the indispensability of water to mankind, one can rightly affirm that light is life.
As a result of life’s many necessities, man has developed various concepts of light. One of such is the electric light which today is one of the daily conveniences that positively affect our lives. Thomas Alva Edison, the famous American inventor, is often credited with the invention of electric light because his version, which came into being in 1879, was able to outstrip the earlier versions because of a combination of factors.
Over time, other inventors have come up with sundry forms of electric light bulbs which have become quite useful in all facets of human endeavours. Today, across the world, even in the most concealed villages, electricity has become an integral part of human existence. In our clime, one of the most fundamental ways that any government could actually touch the lives of the citizenry is through provision of basic light infrastructure. It is this realization that prompted the Akinwunmi Ambode administration in Lagos State to embark on the Light up Lagos project. The project is conceived to light up major highways and streets in the Lagos metropolis with the ultimate goal of boosting commercial activities, enhancing security, improving the citizenry’s standard of living as well as boosting the aesthetics of the City-State.
In accordance with the administration’s all inclusive governance philosophy, the light up exercise covers the five divisions in the state. Thus far, some of the areas that have been lit up include Maryland to Mile 12, Oworonshonki to Kara through Alapere, 7up Toll Gate and Berger, Martins Street/Ereko, Brook Street, Lagos Island, Olowookere Street, Alimosho, Old Ota road, Alimosho, Cemetery road, Badagry, Ligali Ayorinde, Victoria island, Babatunde Anjous, Eti-Osa, Itire road, Surulere, Bode Thomas, Surulere, Coker street, Ilupeju, Apapa- Oshodi expressway, Gbagada by Charley Boy Bus stop, Hakeem Balogun-Jobi Fele Way, CBD, Ikeja, Berger-Ogunwusi Road, Ojodu, Pen Cinema to Oba Akran, Ikotun to Egbe by Synagogue Church, Lagos-Ibadan expressway by Berger bus stop to Third Mainland Bridge among numerous others. The ultimate target of the project is the development of a Lagos that is safe and secured Lagos, that operates a 24/7 economy.
In a bustling mega city like Lagos, there are a number of benefits to be derived from highway/street lightning. For one, it promotes security as hoodlums and criminals who hitherto hide in the dark to perpetrate evil would no longer have the leeway to operate. Street lighting also improves safety for drivers, commuters, riders and pedestrians. It is a common knowledge that pedestrians and vulnerable road users suffer from decreased visibility at night. For these reasons, one sure way of reducing the risk to all road users during the night hours is to light up the highways and streets. Research has shown that driving outside of daylight hours is more dangerous as only very few people can actually drive well at night. Though quite a few people are on the road at nights, yet it has been discovered that this period accounts for 30% of most fatal road crashes in our country.
Currently in Lagos, highway/street lighting ensures safety of residents by providing guidance and direction across the metropolis. Lagosians have now grown accustomed to driving through the streets, rural roads and busy urban thoroughfares, relying on improved visibility and safety afforded them by generous lighting conditions provided by several streetlight standards along the roadways. Similarly, the safety and ability to maneuver along walkways and sidewalks, in both congested and remote areas, is tremendously enhanced for commuters, pedestrians and other road users as a result of improved lighting.
Improved night economy is one other major benefit of the Light up project. In most major cities of the world, socio-economic activities take place 24 hours around the clock. This is especially true of developed countries where a 24-hour socio-economic system is in operation. A 24-hour economy is one in which socio-economic activities do not halt at night. New research from across the world has indicated that many cities, over the past two decades, have deliberately put in place a strategy to run a 24 hour economy. The hospitality and entertainment industries, in particular, thrive better in a 24/7 economy.
In today’s Lagos, entertainment spots such as restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, cinemas, casinos, concert halls, theatres and licensed clubs make more businesses at night than used to be the case. This is particularly because high flying business executives and others who have worked hard in the day and would love to unwind at night could now do so without the usual fright associated with night crawling in the metropolis. Indeed, other socio-economic activities that are non-hospitality and non-entertainment related are equally now flourishing in the night hours. Presently, Lagos boasts of the largest economy in the country. But then, the potential of the economy is yet to be properly harnessed.
•Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.