Below is an overview based on the most common questions potential newcomers have. Typically, most people want to understand the Medical and Safety/Security issues. As always, do not hesitate to contact Outpost for more guidance. Detailed information can also be found in The Inside Guide. Lagos is a continually changing environment so talking with employees and partners currently on assignment is always best.
Before traveling to Nigeria, you and your family will be required to have a medical examination which will normally be arranged by the Company medical adviser in your base country or current host company. Your vaccination records should be checked and updated. Pay close attention to the requirements and ages of children especially.
The Yellow Fever vaccine is mandatory for all visitors to Nigeria over the age of one year. It is valid for 10 years from the 10th day after vaccination. It is critical that you carry your Yellow Fever certificates with you as they are regularly checked on arrival at the airport.
Recommended vaccinations are:
• Typhoid vaccine (booster dose every three years)
• Diphtheria vaccine
• Tetanus vaccine
• Poliomyelitis vaccine (booster dose required every ten years)
• Hepatitis A vaccine
• Hepatitis B vaccine
• BCG vaccine (under age of 12)
• Rabies vaccine (frequent travelers and transferees)
• Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine (transferees and travelers with accumulative stay of more than 6 weeks in endemic areas)
The latest information is available at the website sww.shell.com/health/
General Health Tips
Every day life in Lagos should be injury-free. However, illness and injuries do happen, especially in a hot environment and for those with school-aged children. Drinking water from the tap is discouraged and local fruits and vegetables must be sanitized with anti-bacterial tablets such as Milton. If you or members of your family use prescription medications on a regular basis, make sure you bring extra supplies (drugs, epi-pens, inhalers), copies of the prescription itself and basic medical supplies such as thermometers, band-aids (plasters), cough and cold medicine, anti-diarrhea. Pharmacies or Chemists are available, however brand names may differ from what you are used to and items can frequently be out of stock.
Malaria, particularly when diagnosed late, can be fatal. It is a parasite, which is carried in the saliva of the female mosquito and is passed into the blood stream once you have been bitten. Malaria-carrying mosquitos tend to be active at dusk and dawn. Malaria is the only disease for which you will be advised to take prophylactic drugs. Before visiting Nigeria make sure you have consulted your GP or Shell medical adviser and are well informed about the benefits and risks associated with Prophylaxis drugs, especially for children.
Information is also available on the Shell Health website at http://sww.shell.com/health/employees/malaria/
For most expatriates on assignment, Health Insurance is provided by Cigna. Cigna approved facilities are easily accessible from both Shell housing and the Shell offices. In addition to two hospitals on Victoria Island - Reddington and the Lagoon Hospital, there is a medical clinic inside the main Shell office at Freeman House and an International SOS clinic in Ikoyi near the Shell housing complexes. Clinics can manage everything from cuts and scrapes to malaria tests and prenatal care. More information can be found here. If you need an optician or other medical specialist, the Shell Clinic will refer you to them.
There are several good dental clinics used by many expatriate adults and children. The dentists are highly trained and efficient. The surgeries have some of the latest technology and are extremely hygienic, well equipped and offer a high standard of treatment. Appointments are easily arranged and there is not usually a long waiting list. Prices are competitive with those paid in the UK.
Lagos is one of Africa's largest, most populated cities and like any big city, has its share of crime. Recent improvements in communications, infrastructure and policing by the Lagos State Government have shown a consistent reduction in crime statistics over the last couple of years.
Although Lagos has the reputation of being a not-so-safe city, most expatriates encounter very few problems while living here. Life in Lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island is generally quite safe. While some expatriates drive themselves in these areas (on weekends and in daylight only), a driver is considered a necessity throughout the week. Upon arrival, Outpost can provide you with a copy of a recent Security Briefing which provides an overview of the environment and a map of “safe-zones”.
Roadblocks are a common sight but they cause few problems. Occasionally you may be stopped and asked for money, but if you are polite and calmly refuse to pay, you are usually waved on. Always keep personal and car documents in the car as well as emergency numbers.
Petty crime and fraud are prevalent but can be minimized by the application of personal security principles as provided in the Shell Security Awareness Guidelines and from information included in regular security briefings and engagements. The Company also complements the local Policing in place with additional security services to further safeguard staff and their families particularly in the areas of office, residential and travel security.
Each housing compound has Shell security in place and protocols that must be followed. Shell drivers are given mandatory background checks and must complete the Shell Defensive Driving Course as well as a Security Course prior to employment.
While proper sidewalks and parks are not very common in Lagos, there are a few gated communities where one can walk or run with a group, pet or pram. In general, walking alone in any part of the city - the islands or the mainland is discouraged.
There is no problem with bringing pets to Lagos but it is worth remembering that most accommodation are apartment blocks (flats) with small green spaces.
There are several reliable vets and necessary supplies are available in the supermarkets. Requirements for arrival and departure change regularly so it is best to contact Outpost close to your arrival date so that you can connect with another pet owner familiar with the process. Please note the Company has a published policy on pets and this should be read and understood before bringing pets to Lagos. No exceptions to the policy will be approved. In addition pet owners are required to take pets with them on re-assignment.
While Lagos is still primarily a cash society, local banking has improved greatly over the past few years and is now more widely available. It is simple to set up standard savings accounts, and banks will issue cheque books and ATM cards. The ATM cards are accepted in most hotels, shops and some restaurants. It is not recommended to use overseas credit cards, however, or to respond to any communication from overseas banks sent to you by mail in Lagos.
The unit of currency in Nigeria is the naira, written as “N” preceding the numerals. Notes come in denominations of N1000, N500, N200, N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5. It is useful to maintain Naira checking accounts and Verve Debit cards. This can be done at the First National Bank (at Freeman House). Please note that there are now restrictions on daily cash withdrawals and deposits, thus, the use of local Nigerian debit and credit cards are on the rise. The Central Bank of Nigeria has implemented theses measures to decrease the laundering of cash and to prevent theft. However, be prepared to carry some cash as Point of Service devices do fail periodically due to network issues.
There are several partners working in Lagos at the time of writing and there are many ways of finding work here. Lagos is well supported by NGOs who are often interested in employing suitably qualified employees locally. The large international schools are also very keen for local employees, either as full time teachers with the correct qualifications or as substitute staff, where a tertiary degree is often sufficient. There are hospitals, international businesses and local companies that may all be open to approach. In addition there are endless opportunities for volunteer work.
As is standard practice elsewhere, under Nigerian law, paid work for a non Nigerian national is only possible upon the employer obtaining the necessary approvals from the Ministry of the Interior and the prospective employee subsequently obtaining a work visa.