Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) — Lagos traffic is so snarled and gridlocked that a recent trip from the airport to Ajah, on Lagos Island — a journey shorter than 50 kilometers — took me eight hours. That was two hours longer than my flight from Istanbul to Nigeria.
The city is unhealthily crowded. Despite being the smallest state in the country, it has the highest urban population with an estimated population of 22 million people and counting, more than double New York or London’s tally.
Mental health and productivity disasters
Traffic congestion, with its noise and environmental pollution, takes a huge toll on workers’ mental and physical health.
According to consultant psychiatrist Olufemi Oluwatayo, it’s not a surprise that Lagos commuters are negatively impacted by the traffic conditions.
A general view of congested traffic in Lagos, Nigeria.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
“It is not really hard to see why employees might feel stressed, burned out or exhausted, especially in a city like Lagos,” Oluwatayo says.
“They leave home at 4 a.m., enduring hellish traffic and then [have] to deal with work pressure and the prevalent job insecurity, not to add individual family problems and responsibilities. It is no surprise that, in general, many more people seems to be suffering from anxiety and depression.”
The situation is also killing workforce productivity.
‘Beyond the cubicle’
While working conditions across the globe are fast evolving, some Nigerian companies are reluctant to enable their employees to work from home.
Companies in Lagos who have enabled their teams to work from home say they rely on Internet tools such as Slack and ClickMeeting to foster communications remotely.
“We heavily leverage Slack for internal communication — this makes it very easy for people to be in the loop of whatever is going on in the company regardless of where in the world they’re working from,” says Abdulrahman Jogbojogbo, who works for financial company Paystack.
The state’s new governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has promised to tackle the traffic issues and also decongest the Apapa port area, but some say his changes need to go deeper as the city creaks under the weight of its vast population.
“As much as the removal of trucks will decongest some roads, it’s no one-size-fits-all. There is a clear need to moderate the flow of people as the population soars higher. Remote work offers that opportunity,” Ogunnubi says.