BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI
Tough time, henceforth, awaits those who make false calls to its 767 and 112 telephone numbers set aside for emergency situations.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, recently assented to a law establishing the Lagos State emergency command and control centre, that regulate the making of telephone calls to the centre and provide for other connected matters.
Following Fashola’s assent, the law, which was earlier passed by the state House of Assembly, makes it illegal for anyone to call the emergency numbers for fun and irrelevant issues as offenders would be liable to fine or jail term.
Lagos State Government in its effort to respond effectively to emergency situations set up hotlines to receive information and assist affected persons.
It has however, been observed that since the provision of the emergency numbers, a good number of callers were using them for purposes other than the intended one.
It alleged that a lot of callers drop the line once it is answered or just announce their intentions to greet or encourage the operators. Others give wrong addresses or announce false emergencies.
To prevent these mis-use, the state saw the need to provide a regulatory control over calls made to the emergency telephone numbers.
It is in the light of this that the Lagos State Emergency Command and Control Centre Law was made. The Law generally outlines the process for the exercise of the emergency response by the Centre through speedily processing emergency calls received and taking urgent steps to respond to them by informing other safety and emergency service providers within and outside the state as may be required, to provide an effective response to emergency situations.
The Law also prohibits persons from making hoax calls to the emergency telephone numbers of the Centre.
Particularly, the Law provides under Section 12, that a person who misuses or persistently misuses the emergency telephone numbers of the centre shall be guilty of an offence and liable to penalties stipulated under Section 14 of the Law.
At the signing of the bill into law, Fashola said by establishing emergency lines of 767 and 112, the government created a path that were none existing in order to improve the capacity to respond to life threatening incidents and emergencies in the real sense of it.
Dedicated emergency line
“As for the emergency line, we have broken a path here were none existing, we provided a three digit dedicated emergency line for Lagosians in order to improve our capacity to respond to life threatening issues and emergencies in the real sense of it” ,he added.
According to him, people must pay attention to what really is an emergency, because the way people have used the words- emergency or urgent shows that the word must really be defined.
“Those lines, the 767 and 112 are for emergency and nothing and nothing less, emergencies are often times for us, life threatening situations, very grievous threat to property or a combination of both and as the Attorney General said in his remarks, this is not a line to commend us or to ask for broken pipes to be repaired or complain about our neighbours making noise because we know that those are still service issues”.
“When the threat to life occurs, our capacity to respond makes the defining difference in what in real emergency management is referred to as the golden hour and during that period, if you clog the lines, then those who need the lines desperately are denied use of the assets, so it is not just the law that we will enforce, it is also an attitude and behavioural requirement that we must all resist the temptation to use that line unless there is an emergency”, he stated.