If you’ve stumbled across this post, welcome! You’re clearly thinking about visiting or moving to Lagos, and are wondering how navigating your way through Lagos, a city of 14+ million people will be.
Well, that’s where I come in. Navigating your way through this city can be intimidating (if you don’t know what you’re doing) but it doesn’t have to be. So, I have written an in-depth guide that includes everything you need to know about getting around in Lagos. Safety tips, transportation tips, everything that will make your trip less stressful.
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Yellow Bus (Danfo)
This popular public transport operate as commercial buses. The fares are cheap – they can be as low as N50 and they are very frequent. The drivers however, aren’t very patient. If you decide to take a danfo you need to ensure you are alert and fast and have small notes in cash as they may not be able to change large notes. Danfo’s are usually the targets of pick pockets and petty thieves as they can be packed with 15 or more passengers.
How do you know which bus is going in your direction? The bus conductor usually shouts out the destination. So make sure you listen attentively to avoid entering the wrong bus.
The federal government however advises against taking this form of transport due to safety concerns.
Férìnàjò’s Tip: if you do decide to use this form of transport keep your valuables close and stay alert.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
This is the modern bus network which is operated by Lagos State Government. The buses have their own priority lanes in several major parts of the state, which means they are not usually delayed by general traffic. The BRT buses are also more comfortable and cheaper than public buses; they are also two types, Blue and Red.
However, the downsides to taking BRT buses are the long queues and overcrowding.
Tickets need to be purchased at BRT terminals before you start your journey. Be sure of the bus stop in which you want to alight, as the BRT buses have designated bus stops. BRT buses have speakers that announce bus stops and you can press the bell when your stop is announced.
They motorbikes which operate as commercial bikes and can carry one passenger or more.
Okadas are the best ways to avoid Lagos traffic as the drivers are experienced in “bobbing” and “weaving” through tight spaces.
However, they are not the safest form of transportation as the drivers often ignore the rules of the road and don’t usually have helmets (for themselves or their passengers).
In February 2020, the Lagos state government announced a ban on the use of Okadas in Lagos due to safety concerns. Motorcycle taxis are still allowed in some parts of the state.
Taxi’s in Lagos are easily identifiable by their colours – they’re usually yellow, red or a mix. They work the main roads in all parts of Lagos and you can find them in taxi parks or hail them from the roadside. You should choose the newer, well-kept cars, to avoid break-downs common to older cabs.
They usually charge foreigners exorbitantly, so be ready to negotiate. Most trips should not cost more than 3,000 Naira, however, it depending on how far your destination is. There are also taxis at the airport, but these are painted blue and only take passengers from the airport to their destinations.
Férìnàjò’s Tip: You must negotiate with the taxi driver and have a firm agreement on price before starting the journey and pay in cash.
Keke Maruwa AKA Keke Napep
These small yellow motor tricycle like vehicles are often used for smaller trips, they can squeeze through wider lanes with ease during traffic. A single trip costs can be as low as N50, depending on the distance to your destination.
The movement of Keke’s is restricted in parts of Lagos state.
Férìnàjò’s Tips: considering the fact that we are in a pandemic, if you decide to use public transportation, choose the option that reduces your contact with other people.
*It may not be wise to take public transport late at night so, look into other forms of transportation.
TRANSPORT NETWORK COMPANIES
Transport Network Companies like Uber, Taxify have mobile platforms which enable you order rides from any location and any available car within your vicinity will respond. This form of transport is quite safe due to their ride share option on the mobile apps and it saves time.
However, it can be quite expensive especially if your destination is far. It can also be very expensive during peak seasons due to surge pricing.
Surge pricing: the price usually goes up by 1.5x or 2x when the demand is higher. This usually occurs during peak seasons like December (Christmas).
Car Hire: If you are visiting Lagos for the first time you can rent a car from car rental companies. Some car rental services and independent drivers usually charge daily rates, while you cover the petrol costs. While some may include the cost of a driver and petrol in the daily costs.
You can rent a car for the duration of your time in Lagos without a driver if you intend on driving yourself. If not, you can rent a car and hire a driver independently for the duration of your stay and negotiate a fee or hire a driver through your car rental company for a fixed fee.
Car Rental Companies
Driver Hire companies
A private car with a driver is the most convenient option.However, it is the most expensive option.
If you don’t go the route of car rental companies here are some things you can do:
- If you have a contact in Lagos/ someone you know, ask them for a contact for a private driver/ car.
- Hire an Uber/ Taxify driver: if you take an Uber/ Taxify and find you are comfortable with them and you believe them to be trustworthy, you can negotiate with them to drive you for the remainder of your stay for a particular fee.
- If you choose this option, ensure all the drivers’ documents are up to date and legitimate.
This form of transportation is reserved for use in the event you visit locations only accessible by boat or you want to avoid traffic. The prices are from 500 naira and above.
For more information on this check the Lagos State Water Authority website
Areas in Lagos only accessible by boat:
- Tarkwa Bay: this sheltered beach near the Lagos harbour is only accessible by boat.
- Badagry: it can be accessed by road, however, with the bad roads leading to Badagry it’s advisable to go by boat.
TRAFFIC IN LAGOS
This particular topic needed its own section. Lagos is known for its traffic. I mean for a city with 14+ million people it’s bound to be congested. So here are a few things to consider to help you navigate Lagos traffic better:
- During the week there is often traffic early in the morning (everyone is trying to get to work/ school), in the evenings (everyone is rushing home).
- During the week 4pm is rush hour. Everyone starts leaving work from 4pm so, from that time, the traffic starts building up.
- Mid – mornings and mid- afternoons during the week are often free of traffic (everyone is at work/ school).
- Sundays are a traffic FREE day (unless third mainland bridge is closed). It’s a rest day for everyone so fewer cars are on the road.
- Friday’s are often congested.
- Saturday’s are not as congested as days during the week however, they are not as free as Sunday’s.
- If you’re going to the island from the Mainland/ Lagos Island or Ikoyi, take the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge. It cuts out Victoria Island and saves you time.
- If your place of residence is located on the mainland and you plan on staying late on the island, it’s advisable to spend the night on the island. This saves you the trouble of spending hours in traffic on your commute back home.
Traffic during Peak Periods
December (Christmas) is a peak period in Lagos. Nigerians from the Diaspora and from other parts of the country often visit Lagos.
During this time there is traffic EVERYDAY.
However, the traffic often starts in the evenings, when the Christmas festivities are beginning. This leaves mornings and early-afternoons relatively free of traffic.
Again, in December if your place of residence is on the mainland and you have events to attend on the island it would be advisable to go to the island in the morning or during the day and stay on the island overnight and return to the mainland the next morning/ afternoon. It’s safer and you spend less time in traffic.
*Always check google maps for the best route to take before you set out.
During Rainy Season
During the rainy season from May to October (although these days it rains even during the supposed “dry season”) the traffic can be quite bad. A lot of the roads in Lagos are bad and riddled with pot holes, so this makes driving harder and you spend longer periods of time on the road.
Férìnàjò’s Tip: when in Lagos, always leave on time and factor traffic into your commute time.
Férìnàjò’s tips for staying safe while navigating your way through Lagos
- Don’t use your phone in traffic. The light from your phone will attract unwanted attention from passer-by’s.
- If you use an Uber or Taxify, always share your ride information and location with someone and monitor your trip via google maps.
- Keep your valuables out of sight, especially at night.
- Always carry cash on you when moving around in Lagos – at least 3000 naira.
- Don’t have your window too low when in traffic.
- When in doubt ask or use google maps.
- Avoid stopping at ATM’s late at night or when in taxi’s.
- Don’t take taxi on your own if intoxicated.
- When using taxi apps such as Uber or Taxify ensure the license plate and vehicle model on the app is the same as the vehicle you enter.
- When in a taxi always sit in the back instead of the passenger’s seat, preferably behind the driver.