By Festus Nwoko
The new steps currently taken by Lagos State Government to improve traffic management in the state are commendable. Governor Babajide Sanwo–Olu’s directive has emboldened LASTMA and other road traffic management bodies to apprehend traffic offenders, impound their vehicles and compel fines out of them.
The circulating list of prescribed fines, as well as terms of imprisonment for conviction, is well over thirty.
It is thus imperative that part of effective traffic management is the installation of relevant and visible road signs to guide motorists. This is what is tenable in organised societies, to be fair to all road users. The Government and her traffic management agencies, especially the FRSC, owe this as a fiduciary duty to motorists.
For instance, there are several one–way streets in Lagos State without any form of visible signs or indicators to warn motorists of such streets. A motorist who may not have seen that a road or street is designated “one–way” because of the absence of any indicators may enter such streets, the consequence being that they are apprehended by traffic management officials and policemen positioned away from sight at point of entry. A common justification is that “Ignorance of the Law is no excuse”. But then how does such a justification become valid when the appropriate authorities fail to take the necessary steps to ensure motorists have the guidance they need?
We also look forward to seeing that this intensified traffic management approach will check situations where some LASTMA officials stay in the midst of DANFO drivers who clearly occupy half of the road and slow down traffic while competing with themselves to pick and drop passengers in areas where there are no marked bus stops. When Nigerians travel outside the country, we adjust to practices of walking distances to locate designated bus stops and train stations. But here in Nigeria, we await buses on undesignated parts of the road, and buses come in droves, competing for passengers and thus creating traffic flow bottlenecks. We appeal to the Lagos State Government to see that construction of more covered bus stops is part of the new drive to ensure effective traffic management.
It has also become necessary for all approved fees –– including that for roadworthiness, where applicable –– payable for use of vehicles in Lagos State should be digitalised to facilitate direct payment to the banks and prompt renewal of documents. This will ensure accountability, check extortion and reduce traffic obstruction usually caused by attempting to stop and park vehicles from slow–moving traffic.
FRSC, LASTMA, VIOs and other notable bodies who are responsible for traffic management and vetting the suitability of vehicles on our roads should liaise with relevant authorities to ensure that road signs and warnings, as well as Bus Stops, are installed/constructed at appropriate locations. One way to ensure the smooth flow of this outcome is the departmental/agency synergy. Enhanced steps such as these should be taken to protect innocent road users so that only culprits are brought to book.
F.O Nwoko wrote from Lagos