By Mike Ebonugwo
The Lagos metropolis was for many years defined by a skyline of chaos engendered in many casesÂ by uncontrolled erection and mounting of billboards and other advertising signs. Indeed outdoor advertisers appeared from every indication to be in a race against time as they stiffly competed forÂ Â every available space along most streets and roads in the city.
Apart from the mounted billboards, there were also the ubiquitous posters pasted on every available surface and banners hung or suspended on poles and cross beams. The outcome was a riot of all manner of outdoor advertisements.
But the story appears to have changed for the better as a visitor to Lagos today cannot but be impressed by not only the prevailing sanity in the way outdoor advertisements are placed, but also the innovative and creative dimensions that characterise some of these adverts.
Among the most eye-catching of these were electronic ones with their spectacular displays as well as institutionalised reflective overhead gantries and directional street signs that are always a beauty to behold.
The story of this steady transition from chaos to sanity started in 2006 when a regulatory body was empowered by law to take charge of the responsibility of managing and controlling the placement of outdoor advertisement in Lagos. Thus was born the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, under the enabling auspices of the Lagos State Structures for Singnage and Advertisement Agency Law, 2006. Its immediate task was toÂ modernise, standardise and regulate the streetscapes for the overall benefit of Lagosians and visitors alike.
Immediately LASAA came on board, it has taken charge of all first party signage (shops and businesses), second party signage (directional and informational), and third party signage (billboards, outdoor and out_of_home advertising). Apart from that Section 21 Paragraph C of the principal law as amended also empowers the Agency to issue permits for advertisement on mobile trailers, trucks, buses or vehicles in the region.
Four years after, Mr Makanjuola Alabi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of LASAA will make bold to say the agency has done more than enough to set the stage for the complete transformation of the city to meet the mega city aspiration of the state government. According to him:Â â€œA new look and feel along with setting firm guidelines for business and the commercial interests that drive the out-of-home sector has been implementedâ€. He did not stop there.
â€œAs the regulatory institution responsible for managing and controlling the placement of outdoor advertisement in a mega city like Lagos, LASAA has modeled its operations to meet the demands of an ever-increasing population yearning for a better outdoor advertising environment and displays. The introduction and enforcement of laws regulating the placement of outdoor advertisement has become a huge challenge for many outdoor practitioners who want to carry out the business of out-of-home media in the same old fashion approachÂ of â€˜business as usualâ€™.
Lagos State has its own unique visual character and atmosphere which plays an important role in the quality of the visual experience. For a mega city like Lagos, the visual streetscape and atmosphere needs to be modernised so as to deliver the requisite visual experience to locals, visitors and investors. The Streetscape Optimization Process System (SOPS) as being implemented by LASAA has taken anÂ audit of theÂ total number of commercial signs and billboardsÂ available in the State as well as the details of the owners on the one hand while also providing a platform for the even distribution amenities which support advertisement displays. It needs be stated that revenue can only come when sanity is in place and the structures deliver requisite value for the owner,â€ he said.
The agency according to him, is also involved in street light and illumination projects for both aesthetic and security reasons and has in fact, successfully completed one of these in Awolowo Road, Ikoyi. He informed that the agency is doing this in collaboration with the state Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
Alabi said that in spite of what has so far been done in trying to meet its target, the agency was not resting on its oars as it is putting in place a process to sustain the present initiative. â€œOur plan is to transform Lagos Stateâ€™s visual landscape, enhance the visitorâ€™s experience and setting the tone for the cityâ€™s bright future. We are presently implementing a business process procedure which ensures that we discharge our regulatory functions methodically, efficiently, professionally and in a manner that is faultless. At LASAA we are aiming to work at a world class pace. We are putting in place a Wide Area Network/VPN to connect all our various departments with the operations at the local government offices so as to enhance our data capturing activities.
â€œWith our enterprise resource planning and management software, we will be able to tie all the different units together and give a coherent and balanced view of our Agency. In the future we hope to completely merge all our operations into a seamless flow that will enable us capture information from multiple sources.
â€œThrough this approach we hope to bring information nearer to the public so that applications can be processed and monitored on-line. We aim to continually fine-tune our activities to meet existing realities and future expectations. These improvements can only take place with stakeholders support and participation,â€ he disclosed.
He also had words of praise for his staff to whom he attributed the success that the agency has recorded so far.. Their competence and dedication, he said, largely accounted for the successful implementation of all the measures adopted in the process of achieving an advertisement friendly environment.