…As government moves to retrain motorists
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE popular belief is that only the very determined motor owners can brave the recklessness on display on Lagos roads everyday. Those considered as faint-hearted had long since given up any attempt to be part of the mad rush that passes as driving in theÂ metropolis.
As far as transportation is concerned, many first time visitors regard Lagos as a kind of jungle where only the most reckless drivers hold sway, resulting in frequent crashes and attendant high toll in casualties.
Indeed road traffic crashes statistics from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), show that the state recorded a total of 273 road crashes involving 478 vehicles with 52 fatalities and 268 injured this year. During the same period in 2008, the state recorded 396 accidents involving 720 vehicles with 88 fatalities and 659 injured. This is a reduction of 31.1 percent in number of road crashes, 33.6 percent in number of vehicles involved, 40.9 percent in persons killed and 59.33 percent in persons injured during the same period.
But it will appear that the Lagos State Government is determined to change these ugly scenarios as it recently commissioned two of the stateâ€™s five drivers institutes located at Ikorodu and Ikeja/Oshodi areas of the state.
For long, government and other relevant groups and individuals have expressed concern on the competence and certificate of drivers in Nigeria. The common belief is that most of the drivers in Nigeria never passed through any formal instruction before securing drivers licenses. The resultant effect is obvious on the roads, with records of road traffic crashes claiming several lives and destroying manyÂ Â properties.
Obviously aware that the competence of most drivers in the country, including Lagos,Â is questionable, due to the way and manner they acquire driving skills and obtain drivers licenses, the state government decided to set up what it calls the Lagos State Drivers Institute (LASDRI) through the Ministry of Transportation with centres in Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos and Epe.
The original proposal to set up the institute was said to have been conceived in 2005 with plans to renovate five districts of the state and equip them for the purpose. The legal backing for the institute was passed by the then state House of Assembly and signed into law by Bola Tinubu, the then Governor of Lagos State.
However, the scope and concept changed with the advent Governor Babatunde Fasholaâ€™s administration which directed that the prototype buildings for the centres shouldÂ be furnished with state-of-the-art equipment and headquarters building for the project be sited at Oshodi.
To ensure compliance to the rules and regulation guiding the use of the highways the state government says it willÂ continue to enhance the capacity and capability ofÂ LASTMA through increased staffing, purchase of modern traffic management and rescue equipment with high capacity patrol motor bikes and communication equipment that has a state wide coverage.
This also includes the strengthening of the Vehicle Inspection Unit through recruitment, training of more personnel, provision of working tools and vehicle for effective vehicle inspection and examination activities. The unitâ€™s location, according to officials, has been expanded from the initial six zones to 18 zones spread across the state with working hours extended from 4pm to 7pm for an effective and more efficient compliance of law and regulations.
At the handing over ofÂ LASDRI for public use Gov. Fashola had declared that â€œall public and private drivers on our roads have the requisite skills, knowledge and temperament to drive safely in our highwaysâ€.
The institute has the following facilities:Â An ultra modern eye centre to examine drivers vision, a simulator room for drivers analysis and training, a 75 seater auditorium complete with audiovisual and full multimedia, a web based database centre for drivers, conveniences and office for staff.
Lagos moves to boost agric
As part ofÂ measures to boost agriculture in the state, the Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Rural Development has handed over two completed agricultural projects to two communities in Badagry out of seven other projects which include four water scheme, a rural electrification, two jetties and a Neighbourhood Watch office.
Disclosing this was the Commissioner for Rural Development, Prince Lanre Balogun during an inspection and handing over tour to various communities in Badagry.
Balogun noted that the project will help to make foods readily available and aid rapid development, improve the standard of living, create additional employment for the youths and further bring the dividend of democracy to the grassroots as the State moves towards a mega city.
He noted that the project at Shoko community tagged, â€œReduction of post-harvest lossesâ€ will help to increase production and lessen loss of farm produce suffered by farmers. With this the farmers now have the benefit of modern facilities to preserve their farm produce unlike what obtained in the past when they recorded great losses.
Balogun said: â€œThe Replenishment of water bodies at Pashi will further increase the quantity of fishes in all the rivers as the state government has procured brudals (big fishes) that will reproduce small fishes (finger line) that will be transferred to the four acting pounds for rearing before their maturity stage after which they will be transferred to the riversâ€.
On the other seven projects, the commissioner stated that they were constructed in other communities to bring even development in the area.
NGO donates to the needy
A non-governmental and inter-religious Â Â Â organisation, The Congress of Muslims and Christians Youth Leaders, CMCYL, recently donated food-stuff, bags of detergent, rolls of tissue paper and packets of biscuit to SOS Children Village Home in Isolo to commemorate with the 67th birthday anniversary of its grand patron, Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
The group was received by the management of the SOS Childrenâ€™s Village, led by the Youth Counsellor for girls, Mrs. Malomo F. Funke, who revealed that SOS is not a religious-based orgainsation but rather an independent, non-governmental international development organisation which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children like orphans, destitutes and the abandoned.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation, the General Secretary, Akindele Femi Lawson, said that the visit was to mark the 67th birthday of their patron. â€œMay we by this medium thank the Almighty God for making our Grand Patron, Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu to attain 67 years on earth today, 4th September, 2009.
â€œWe commend all men and women of good will who in one way or the order are contributing their own quota to the dignity of man, peaceful society and the development of the Nigerian childâ€.