November 1, 2013

Mixed feelings over intelligence traffic signal lights in Lagos

Mixed feelings over intelligence traffic signal lights in Lagos

*The newly installed traffic signals under test run

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

MANY lives had been lost to the recklessness of drivers on the road. Also many people had been maimed by hit and run drivers. The belief in some informed quarters is that this would not have been the case if there are traffic signals at strategic positions on the road. Traffic signals are instruments for controlling traffic by using changing lights, namely Red for ‘Stop’, Amber (Yellow) for ‘Ready to Go or Stop’, while the Green indicates to ‘Go’.

Acknowledging the importance of having this in place, the Lagos State government had a year ago declared that the functionality of the entire traffic lights system in the state a priority. But the joy this elicited was short-lived. Two months ago, motorists and other road users were left in confusion as some of the traffic light signals installed in strategic points continued to flick amber. In some cases, many of the confused drivers waited endlessly at the stop line for the light to turn green.

However, unknown to many, the traffic lights were still being test run. Thirty of these new intelligence traffic signal lights powered by solar system, were launched last week and installed at major intersections identified for synchronization in the state.

Some motorists who spoke with Vanguard Metro, VM, on the development expressed divergent views on the installation. While some described it as a welcome development, others tasked government to focus on road rehabilitation and maintenance rather than traffic signal lights.

Mr. Afis Alakija, a taxi-cab operator along the Agege Motor Road, said the traffic light was unnecessary when the state of road is left unattended to across the state. According to him, “The state government should re-channel its scarce resources to fixing of bad roads instead of erecting traffic light that would not be properly maintained.”

*The newly installed traffic signals under test run

*The newly installed traffic signals under test run

Mr. Anthony Alaba, a civil servant, lauded the initiative saying, it would go a long way in checking the excesses of reckless drivers, especially the commercial drivers. Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, while speaking with VM, explained that the measure would reduce traffic gridlock as well as restore discipline on the road.

He said, “We have 87 traffic lights and they are working well except for areas where road and drainage construction work are ongoing. And some of the areas are Ejigbo, Isaac John, Ikeja GRA and others. In Ikorodu, there are about three traffic lights that have been powered down due to the ongoing expansion work on the road.

“All these 87 traffic lights are working. And they are doing at least 90 percent. The issues are with the 30 new intelligence traffic lights that have the function of allowing pedestrian crossing light. It means the traffic signal light sends new traffic challenge that was against its programme. It will do some new calculations on its own and re-programme itself to address the new traffic challenge at that location.

“For instance, if 10 vehicles were to come from one particular direction, and the light discovers that the number was more than that, like 100, the machine will decide to switch to the new traffic challenge. And when the atmosphere returns to its earlier programme, it will switch back. These are the traffic lights that are painted in yellow.

“And when any of the new traffic lights is found flashing the amber (yellow) light, it shows that it is ready to go. It is also meant to create awareness to everyone that a traffic light has been erected at that place. It is obvious to us that Lagosians now understand the importance of the traffic light. Lagosians tend to believe that they could move freely but when the traffic light is erected, it makes the vehicle move in a certain sequence. And where one did not experience delay before, he may find it there. This is expected to create safety in the state.

TLS intersections: “And we have picked all the interceptions from Abule Egba up to Stadium. We have signalized major interception from Ojodu Berger to Agidingbi except for the junction at Ojodu Berger and from Agidingbi to Maryland. We have also increased the signalization on Opebi axis. And this would be noticed between Adebola and Salvation. We have erected one at Kings College.

“With the traffic light at Abule Egba, we will be able to manage traffic effectively in that axis. With the traffic signal light on Agege Motor Road, we have adjusted how people approach Oshodi. We have controlled the number of vehicles that approach Oshodi, which causes traffic congestion at the Bus stop.”

Traffic points

Opeifa  explained that another traffic point would be erected at Ago Palace, Isolo, stressing that it is meant to address the stand alone traffic points in that axis of the state. He said, “Like what we have in Allen Avenue, we now have on Kudirat Abiola Way and Agidingbi, we believe it is better we complete the circle in Mushin and others..

“In Alimosho axis, we are using traffic and gridlock point resolution. For Ikeja, we have passed this level and we are moving into corridors. For Surulere, we will be using the gridlock point taking into consideration the traffic.

On how the traffic light will be powered: “The new traffic lights would be solar powered. And currently out of the 87, 35 are being powered by solar energy. But with the switching-on of the Marina Independent Power Project, IPP, the traffic light are being diverted to IPP. It was expected that when the IPP in Ikeja commence operation, all the traffic light in will be diverted while those on solar powered, will not be diverted. With the new 30 traffic lights it has increased the number of solar powered traffic light to 65 in the state.”

Opeifa added, “Residents of Lagos respect the traffic light but because they have not seen enough and when they start seeing it in every interception, there will be at least 95 percent compliance.

“And those who violate the traffic light regulation are the drivers of the yellow buses. Very soon we will introduce technology that can help track traffic light offenders. Also, should residents see any of traffic lights not working or damaged, they should endeavour to call 0807-755-1000 for onward repair.”