By Ebele Orakpo
“Pray, what has a LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) official got to do with wearing or not wearing of seat-belts?” asked Jane flabbergasted, while commuters at the ever- busy Oshodi Oke Bus-stop watched as a LASTMA official tried to arrest the driver of a moving mini-bus because he was not wearing a seat-belt.
Trust a typical Lagos commercial vehicle driver who has perfected the art of driving in the ever maddening Lagos traffic, while dodging potholes, vehicular and human traffic. In fact, only a genius can drive on Lagos roads at peak periods when sanity seems to have gone on a long holiday. Driving at such periods can be compared to fighting in a war front where every method – both fair and foul – is employed. After all, it is said that all is fair in war.
So the driver in a bid to escape arrest by the LASTMA official, did as if he was obeying the guy’s order to stop, he stopped, his conductor got down from the vehicle and like lightening, the driver swerved the vehicle to the left and with tires screeching, he made a 180-degree turn, directly facing oncoming vehicles; a very dangerous move which practically made people’s hearts leap into their mouths as a head-on collision was miraculously avoided. The driver, of course, did not see anything wrong in what he did.
This enraged the LASTMA official who promptly held onto the bus conductor’s shirt.
“Go ahead, arrest him, he is the traffic you are supposed to be managing, foolish man,” taunted a man by name, Ahmed who was waiting at the bus-stop to board a vehicle to his destination. “Stupid man. Just imagine the terrible accident he would have caused here were it not for divine intervention. So many people would have lost their lives in a twinkling of an eye,” noted Luke.
“Sometimes they behave like human beings and at other times, they behave like strangers from another planet. In any case, what is his business with the driver wearing or not wearing seat-belt? Is that his brief?” asked Jane. To this, Lanre replied: “In Nigeria, anybody can become anything at anytime.
They are a bunch of confused fellows – the Police, Road Safety, Vehicle Inspection Officers, Kick Against Indiscipline, LASTMA, Area Boys, etc. They don’t really know their job specifications. I think the authorities concerned should educate them on what is expected of them.”
“Lanre, you counted Area Boys among them? Who are they?, government officials?” asked Tony.
“Siddon there! You are asking me who Area Boys are? No Lagosian will say he does not know about Area Boys and their activities, especially the way they work hand-in-hand with the Police to extort money from commercial vehicle operators. They control most of the motor parks in Lagos and make life a living hell for the ordinary man,” replied Lanre.
“I think enforcing the wearing of seat-belts should be the prerogative of the Federal Road Safety Corps guys,” stated Ijeoma.
“True, but we should also recognise the fact that ours is a peculiar society with a peculiar problem; so a peculiar solution should be sought. All hands must be on deck to solve the problem,” stated Bose.
“That doesn’t give just anybody in uniform the right to enforce traffic laws. These days, Area Boys and some jobless youths sew uniforms and use it to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public. One of these days, armed robbers will begin to wear uniforms too. Things must be done decently and in order. Probably if it wasn’t for divine intervention, most of us talking now would not have had the opportunity as we would have been dead a few minutes ago,” said Ahmed.
“No, armed robbers won’t be that patient. Why work hard to get N50 or N100 from each bus when they can forcefully get millions of naira within minutes,” asked Lanre.
Some minutes later, as people continued to rain abuses on the LASTMA official, the conductor was able to free himself from his grip and ran for dear life. Jeers followed the LASTMA official as he quickly left the scene.