Endless problems of transportation in Nigeria


Posted by: Hassana Obi

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”Problems of transportation in Nigeria” is never an outdated topic to discuss. As the list is endless, the post tries to pick the most typical ones.

1. Overview of the transportation in Nigeria

Before coming to the problems of transportation in Nigeria, let us review a bit on transportation system in Nigeria. Overall, we have 5 modes of transportation in Nigeria, including:

  • Land transportation
  • Water transportation
  • Air transportation
  • Human portage and use of animal (old means of transportation in Nigeria, mostly in the North)

The land transportation is also divided further into 2 types: road transport and rail transport.

a family riding horse for transport

Use of animals for transport is most common in the North

Means of transportation in Nigeria vary accordingly for different modes. For example, on roads we have motorized vehicles like bus, cars, motorcycles or trucks. Besides, there are trains on railways and ships on waterways. The air transport is surely for planes.

To administer Nigeria transportation, we need Ministry of Transport with several supporting organizations and departments as FRSC, VIO or VIS. Current Federal Minister of Transport Nigeria is Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who used to be the fifth Governor of Rivers State between 2007 and 2015.

2. Problems of transportation system in Nigeria

Transportation problems in the country vary in different types of transport system, namely road transport, rail transport, water transport and even air transport. Below are problems of transportation system in Nigeria in 4 different aspects.

2.1. Problems of road transportation in Nigeria

Among all traffic-related issues, problems of land transportation are the most alarming. This is due to the overpopulation plus dominance of road transports compared to other means. Road infrastructures are widespread throughout the whole country, making land traffic the most crowded one.

Funny things happen on Nigerian roads

And of course, more vehicles or more people is equivalent to more problems. The list below is just a brief mention of current matters.

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Lack of infrastructure for public transport

Hardly can one find a proper bus stop on Nigerian roads with shelter for Danfo riders to sit while waiting the bus to come. This insufficient provision of bus shelters has led to lines of bus passengers standing right on the roadside, causing troubles for vehicles to move through.

>>> If you are plying Lagos-Abuja route, here are the best transport companies you can travel with.

Lack of pedestrian infrastructure

As you may see yourself, Nigerian government hasn’t paid enough attention to pedestrians, proved by the lack of walkways, lights, signals or pedestrian bridges.

Chaotic junctions

Traffic participants in Nigeria have been so familiar with unsignalled junctions which allow everybody to travel freely in any direction at any time they want. Lucky enough, some busy junctions have traffic wardens to co-ordinate the traffic flow but yells and quarrels are frequently seen even in these cases.

a junction in Lagos

Junctions without traffic lights are common

The problem goes on with poorly planned junctions as well. Even when the junctions are equipped with signals and roundabouts, road congestions and traffic collision still occur. The reason lies in too big roundabouts while the regulation of traffic flow through junctions is not logical enough.

Poor road conditions

Should you experience a road without any crack or pothole in Nigeria, you must be daydreaming. Not mention the mainstream routes with uneven terrain or hundred potholes, there exist some “dead zones” due to its horrible past. These roads are so poorly maintained that they caused countless traffic accidents, leading to the shocking number of fatalities.

Lack of vehicle laybys

Imagine a fleet of buses or cars are parking on the side of a not-so-large street and the number of moving vehicles also increase exponentially in rush hours. A several-hour traffic congestion is definitely unavoidable in this case. Only when sufficient bus laybys or car parks are constructed, dare we hope for the problems to be solved.

cars parking and running on Nigerian roads

Roadside parking is a pressing problem in big cities

Occupied road space for other purposes

Though the roads are not well built for vehicles, they are also suffering from other semi-market activities like advertisers, vendors, food stalls, commercial containers, beggars or even street dancers. These people encroach the road space for vehicles, triggering the traffic jam on major roads.

Contumacious drivers

Yeah, I think there’s no need to prove this. At any time on road, you can see drivers breaking traffic rules and regulations. They drive like they can never do it one more time (probably if they continue driving that way), beat the traffic lights and go on pedestrian track, ignoring all kinds of road safety signs and their meanings.

2.2. Problems of water transportation in Nigeria and rail transport in Nigeria

Not only our roads, either water ways or railways are bending over backwards to handle the traffic in the shortage of infrastructure.

Lack of infrastructure for these alternative modes

If citizens from developed countries can easily avoid traffic congestion by changing their routes to work thanks to the diverse alternative ways of transport, Nigerians are left with no other choice but travel on the same way daily.

a waterway in Lagos

The rare waterway on operation

This is actually the problem of entire transport system, starting with same problems of road transport. If we can offer our residents alternative waterways or railways to travel, the volume of traffic on road will be surely reduced.

Limited means of transportation in Nigeria

Again, the country doesn’t care much about train networks and waterway transportations. Most transport businesses focus on traditional modes of transportation without updating the latest technology for trains or water transport. Think of sky-trains, underground vehicles or motored boats and what they can do to transport freights or reduce the number of vehicles on roads!

sky trains in Bangkok

When will these sky trains arrive in Nigeria?

2.3. Problems of air transportation in Nigeria

The last aspect Naijauto wants to mention is problems of air transportation in Nigeria. As you may know, the Nigeria Air is about to launch its services soon. However, whether the business can survive or be declared bankrupt as previous ones remain controversial. Let’s look through several problems of airways in Nigeria to explain their past failure as well as improve for a better future.

Poor management

This is clearly the most obvious drawback of Nigerian Airways. The lack of management efficiency has led to the collapse of national carrier in the old days and might affect the upcoming, too. Should the management be tightened, corruption will be limited, securing the air transport to be at stable development.

a Nigeria Air plane

Hope the new national carrier will be managed more efficiently

Air facilities in extremely bad conditions

I must say the facilities (and services) in some airports in our country are unacceptable. For example, the Owerri Airport lacks trolleys for passengers to carry their luggage while facilities in other places are decaying or abandoned.

Lack of security

Not only airports but also roads to airports in Nigeria need more security guards. There have been a lot of incidents related to insufficient surveillance on runways such as in 2005, 7 cows are crashed dead while wandering on the runway of Port Harcourt International Airport by an Air France flight. The landing gear of the plane was then severely damaged. Fortunately, there’s no injury to passengers.

runway in Abuja

A clear runway in Abuja


We may spend the whole day discussing problems of transportation in Nigeria but still lack time to analyze the issues in details. However, a brief overview is enough for us to be more aware of our country situation. To address the problem, a concerted effort from both governments and individuals is of great importance. We also hope that in the near future, the adoption of intelligent transportation system will be considered to better the travelling scenario.

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Hassana Obi
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Hassana Obi

Hassana Obi

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Hassana Obi is an automobile writer and editor at Naijauto.com. She prides herself on hundreds of informative and entertaining articles on Nigerian traffic regulations, car prices and celebrity car collections. When Hassana is not writing, she is a teacher and philanthropist.

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