The Urban Transport Crisis in Emerging Economies

Part of the series The Urban Book Series pp 173-195



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The challenges of urban transport in sub-Saharan Africa are daunting in that African urbanism creates challenges that are compound the inherent difficulty of managing urban transport anywhere. These include the limited ability of both households and government to pay for services and investments, the limited capacity of both public and private actors to manage and operate urban transport infrastructure, and the ongoing dominance of small-scale, informal provision of transport services in most urban contexts. These factors complicate an already inherently complex sector, where numerous stakeholders, competing objectives, high investment costs, complex interdependencies of land and labor markets, and unpredictable and hard-tomanage demand-supply interactions are ubiquitous challenges in developed and developing countries alike.

In Nigeria, however, the challenge of urban transport is made even more complex by distinct characteristics of the political economy of the nation, including the long-term dominance of the petroleum industry in the national economy, leading to long-term prevalence of distortionary energy subsidies, decline in the share of the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP at precisely the moment of burgeoning urban populations, a fundamental mismatch between geographic size of human settlements and the geographic reach of jurisdictional authority, and inconsistent and frequently counter-productive involvement of the Federal government in urban transport. These challenges have been compounded in recent years by security threats in urban environments. This chapter reviews these factors and their impact on urban transport in Nigeria.