BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
LAGOS State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, signed the traffic bill into law.The new law repeals the old one and makes provisions for road traffic and vehicle inspection offences in the state.
The Lagos State House of Assembly, on July 12, 2012 passed the bill for the governor’s assent.
The bill which emanated from the executive arm, sought to return sanity to the roads by regulating vehicular movements and imposed strict sanctions and enforcement on any erring vehicle operator in the state. Yesterday’s public assent to the bill was the first ever to be witnessed by representatives of the three arms of government, Executive, Judiciary and Legislature and the law enforcement agencies.
The event which was spearheaded by Governor Fashola had in attendance; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly – Adeyemi Ikuforiji; the new Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Adeyoola Phillips; members of the state Executive Council, High Court Judges and Magistrates, state Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko; Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, senior ranking officials of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority, LASTMA and Vehicle Inspection Officers, VIOs, among other stakeholders.
Governor Fashola explained that in response to agitations of members of the public on operations of National Union of Road Transport workers, NURTW, and other transport road workers unions, the government set up a tribunal of enquiry into operations of the unions headed by Mr. Dolapo Akinsanya and that a white paper was submitted afterwards.
Response to security issues
He noted that in 2007, in response to security issues arising from operations of transport workers, another committee was set up, headed by former Inspector General of Police, Musiliu Smith, which had submitted its reports. Similarly, Waheed Rasheed, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, also headed a committee set up last year to look into the security challenges posed by Okada riders .
The governor said: “There are rules that operate in many cities that compare with this state, we have been to many of these cities and we comply, why is it difficult to comply at home. Our lives will be better if we comply with this law. Some of us have some parts of the law that we like and some parts that we don’t like. That sits well with me, maybe not all of us. The deputy governor and I are the only ones that have immunity from arrest, but we will subject ourselves to the law because no one will be above this law.
“Those who are ready to live with the realities and the complexities of our state are welcome and those who can’t should stay away. Those that drive against traffic when we queue are cheating us and we will not allow such to happen again. If we cannot reclaim our sane society for the coming generation, I think we have failed.
“Between January and July, 2012, there were 722 reported cases of accidents on okada at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH,. Out of this number, 568 were males and 154 were females.”
Main kernels of the law:
Some of the items contained in the new state Road Traffic Law, are the restriction of trailer movement in the state to within the hours of 6am and 9pm as well as the ban on okada on bridges with their activities prohibited on 443 routes in the state. Smoking, pinging on phones, eating, making calls and other dangerous acts while driving are offensive to the new state traffic law.
The new Road Traffic Law stipulates that driving in a direction prohibited by the road traffic law, that is driving against traffic, popularly known as one-way driving now attract a three year jail term, while a first offender gets one year term and the vehicle forfeited to the state government. Bullion vans are not exempted from the law as any bullion van that is driven in a direction prohibited by the road traffic law will be forfeited, while abandoned vehicles on highway will be fined N50,000 or three years imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.
Schedule (1) section (2) of traffic offences and penalties states that a first time offender who rides a motor-cycle against traffic and riding on the kerb, median or road setbacks, will be fined N20,000, while a subsequent offender will pay N30,000 or the rider’s motor-cycle will be impounded.
Smoking while driving will attract N20,000; failure to give way to traffic on the left at a roundabout N20,000; disobeying traffic control will be N20,000; while violation of route by commercial vehicles will attract N20,000. Riding motor-cycle without crash helmet for rider and passenger will attract N20,000 or three years imprisonment or both.
The law also prohibited under aged persons- under 18 years old, from riding a motorcycle with fine of N20,000. Operating a motor-cycle in a restricted area on or prohibited route will be fined N20,000 or the motor-cycle impounded.
In schedule II, section (4) lists prohibited routes for motorcycles and tricycle. The highways include Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki; Lagos-Ikorodu; Lagos-Abeokuta, Babangida Boulevarde way. Others are Eti-Osa Lekki Epe expressway, Funsho Williams avenue, Agege motor road and Eti-Osa-Lekki coastal road.
Controversy over the law
This bill has continued to generate controversy in the state as some stakeholders are for the law while some are against it.
Enforcement not immediate, says Ipaye
However, the State’s Attorney General, Ade Ipaye said: “In introducing the bill, comprehensive sensitisation is to be embacked upon in the coming days. It’s customary that a law, unless otherwise stated, takes effect when it is signed. Of course enforcement may not take immediate effect, after signature, the ordinary citizens will have access to the gazette. It is only then, real enforcement will begin
“We will wait for the law to be gazetted before the enforcement commences. It is only then that real enforcement will start. Nobody should be arrested now, we need to gazette the provision of the law first.”