This year, the city of Ikorodu joined the club of cities with one million inhabitants or more, going by the UN population estimates and projections of major urban agglomerations. With a 2022 estimated population of 1,041,166 inhabitants, it is currently Nigeria’s 12th largest city, and the third largest city in the Southwest after Lagos and Ibadan.
It has a higher population than several state capitals, including the capital cities of Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo and Osun. Ikorodu is currently more populous than cities like Ilorin, Owerri, Warri, Jos, Umuahia, Maiduguri, Enugu, Lokoja, Bauchi, Abakaliki, Calabar, Gombe and Katsina. Outside Nigeria, Ikorodu can be compared with Oslo, Norway’s largest city, or Sekondi Takoradi, Ghana’s third largest city.
The population of the city currently grows at 5.26% annually and it is projected to reach 1.7 million by 2035.1 This new status should be a call to action for all stakeholders.
Lagos State is the only state with two cities with more than one million inhabitants in Nigeria. The city of Lagos itself has a population of over 15 million inhabitants, and it is currently Africa’s third largest city, behind Cairo and Kinshasa.
Much of the growth occurring in the city of Lagos in recent years is northward, into Ogun state, although ongoing efforts on the Eko Atlantic City may lead to some southward expansion. The saturation of the city of Lagos is partly responsible for the growth Ikorodu is experiencing.
A recent assessment ranked Lagos 172 of 173 cities in the world in terms of liveability. The reality is that large cities are not easy to live in and the liveability of cities depends on the planning that has been done in the early days of the evolution of those cities. That Lagos scores low on the liveability scale is a function of the planning that did not occur decades ago.
Managing a city requires enormous long-term planning and sustained commitment to compliance with the plan. This is partly because of the high population density cities are known for.
With a large population of people crammed into a geographical area, everyday human activities begin to have serious implications. For instance, Ikorodu’s one million inhabitants mean a million people who will generate human and domestic wastes every day in perpetuity. And here we are with a city without a sewerage system.
All households depend on septic tanks with huge potentials for contaminating the ground, surface water, and shallow wells which are still major sources of water for the majority of the households in the city.
The city lacks a proper drainage system, and the gutters are open and prone to being clogged with improperly disposed wastes, much of which are not biodegradable.
The emerging city also needs a reliable source of water that should be designed to serve two to three million inhabitants in the next couple of decades. Water and sanitation are key requirements for protecting the city from disease outbreak and if the city is to be liveable, these amenities should be prioritized.
There is need for affordable housing. Having a million city dwellers also means that the cost of housing may increase with time as demand outstrips supply.
Cities typically have pull factors to which rural dwellers respond. If there is no adequate housing scheme to meet current and future needs for housing, a huge housing deficit will be witnessed and homelessness will soon become a common feature.
At present the city is just sprawling organically in a patternless manner in different directions. It has sprawled to communities like Maya and Ijede. To the south, houses have continued to spring up along Owode-Ibeshe axis and Baiyeku axis.
There is also a continuous stretch of built-up areas along the Ikorodu-Sagamu road.
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