By Olasunkanmi Akoni
THE impression that the law against driving against the traffic has been suspended in Apapa and environs on account of the prevailing gridlock there may have been reinforced by the fact that law enforcement agents continue to look the other way as more motorists take to the one-way option.
But Chairman of the of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offences, Superintendent of Police, SP, Olayinka Egbeyemi, said the recent impounding of 98 commercial motorcycles plying restricted routes in the area by operatives of the agency is a reminder that all relevant traffic laws are still in force.
He said the enforcement operation was based on the directive of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Edgal Imohimi.
Egbeyemi stated that government was not comfortable with the flagrant abuse of law by commercial motorcycle operators, coupled with report of crime incidents allegedly perpetrated with use of ‘okada’ particularly around Apapa, Mile 2, Festac, 2nd Rainbow, Ijesha and Orile-Iganmu, noting “these commercial motorcycle operators, no doubt, have been a sort of menace as their public nuisances and criminal activities at any time of the day is becoming alarming particularly at Apapa and its environs.”
The chairman stressed that while some of them harassed innocent members of the public at various bus-stops around Coconut, Wharf, Tincan-Island and Apapa GRA, others engaged in all sorts of criminal acts by dispossessing their passengers of valuables and also robbing innocent motorists during traffic. He added that the commencement of repair work at over 3000 capacity ‘ABAT Truck Terminal’ in Orile-Iganmu and other on-going roads constructions/rehabilitations around Apapa axis formed part of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s efforts to permanently address the perennial traffic around Apapa.
While advising commercial motorcycles unions to screen and weed out those criminal elements among them and to properly educate their members on the need to strictly adhere to the laws, he said, “the exercise is an ongoing one as the CP has ordered the Taskforce Chairman to focus his operations more within Apapa until this menace is totally eradicated.”
He, however, appealed to residents of Apapa to cooperate with the Taskforce during the exercise and be free to contact him for useful information to rid the area of the menace.
Residents commend action
A motorist who identified himself as John commended the Lagos CP for his prompt enforcement directive to check illegal activities of these commercial motorcycle operators around Apapa. According to him: “Those commercial motorcyclists who drive against traffic are fond of smashing the side-screens and mirrors of vehicles that are on the right of way even knowing that they are at fault”. A resident who preferred anonymity, said: “We appreciate the action of the CP and we are ready to cooperate with the Taskforce as most of these commercial motorcyclists are illegal aliens from neighbouring countries.”
No way for One-Way
While stressing enforcement of zero tolerance on traffic offences, Egbeyemi, said a bullion van driver, Mr. Oke Onyeche, 48, was arrested by the enforcement team of the Agency at Ogunusi Road, Omole Bus-Stop, Ojodu, Lagos. He said he was surprised that with the level of enlightenment campaign by the government motorists, including private car owners, could still be driving against traffic without fear of possible collision with on-coming vehicles.
Egbeyemi confirmed that majority of the motorists apprehended for the one-way traffic offence were educated private car owners who ordinarily should have obeyed the law without any strict enforcement. He, therefore, urged motorists particularly commercial bus drivers to desists from driving against traffic and to obey different traffic signs conspicuously displayed by traffic officers, particularly around Dopemu, Agege/Pen cinema, Apapa-Oshodi Express way, Mile 2 and other parts of Lagos.
Egbeyemi said the construction of alternative routes for motorists across all local governments and local council development areas of the State by Governor Ambode was meant to ease off traffic congestion in Lagos. He added that Imohimi has directed the agency to step up enforcement against all unauthorised private vehicles using siren, revolving light and those covering their plate-numbers for prosecution, as “these acts are purely illegal.”
Obstruction and One-way
Onyeche, who admitted he drove against traffic to get to his destination on time said he never knew that he would be caught. “I want the government to please temper justice with mercy,” he pleaded. The offender who said the empty bullion van belonged to Integrated Cash Management Services, ICMS, vowed never to drive against traffic if he escape going to jail.
Chief Magistrate Amos Olajuwon of the Lagos State Mobile Court, Oshodi, who presided over the case, adjourned the case to for ‘Facts and Sentence’ after the bullion van driver pleaded ‘Guilty’ to provisions of schedule (1) item 27 of the Lagos State Road Traffic Laws of 2012 levied against him.
The court levied two counts charge of ‘Obstruction and One-way’ against the accused. Prosecutor Counsel, Barr. Oseni Ibrahim, said the arraignment of the bullion van driver was meant to serve as deterrent to other road users, particularly those on essential duties who are fond of flouting the laws across the state.