Motorists in Lagos State on Thursday expressed divergent opinions over Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directive to traffic managers on full compliance to traffic rules and offences aimed at sanitising the roads in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sanwo-Olu had on May 30 signed his first Executive Order to address the issue of traffic control and management.
Sanwo-Olu in the executive order directed the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to operate a minimum of two shifts to manage traffic in the state until 11:00 p.m. daily.
The governor charged LASTMA officials to effectively carry out their functions by ensuring strict compliance with all extant traffic rules and regulations as prescribed in the enabling law.
He added that another pronouncement would be made soon to address the issue of one-way driving on Lagos roads.
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Consequently, LASTMA had rolled out the 64 offences in the statute and the penalties, urging all residents of the state to ensure strict compliance with traffic rules at all times for a greater Lagos.
While some offences carry various fines and imprisonment and training at the Lagos State Driving Institute, there are about 20 offences that provide for the seizure of cars, trucks, motorcycles belonging to traffic offenders.
Speaking to NAN, Mr Raphael Okolie, a bank official who plies the Ikorodu-CMS route said that the government’s directive was a welcome development as it would bring sanity to the roads.
Okolie said: “Many road users take the laws into their hands by driving without caution thereby making life unbearable for other road users.
“I think full enforcement of traffic rules is in the best interest of all of us and the state. Impunity is too much among motorists especially these commercial bus drivers and operators of tricycles.
“In fact, you see that when some of us give way for pedestrians to cross at a zebra crossing, some drivers will be abusing us while some impatient motorists will almost run them down.
“ I think it is good to enforce traffic rules.”
Also, Mrs Grace Kasali, a retiree and a car owner, corroborated Okolie, decrying reckless driving and attitudes of most road users.
Kasali said: “It is a good thing that the new government came up to enforce traffic law in the state.
“Some of us are law abiding and will not flout rules but we have a lot who will not care at all, thereby bringing suffering to other motorists.
“Thank God for this government, under-aged driving is disastrous, we see many of them. What experience do they have, especially, the motor boys of articulated and commercial vehicles?
“In abroad where l had just returned, you don’t just drive because you feel you can; you have to be tested and certified.
“But here in Nigeria, anything goes; checks on the use of unbranded vehicles for commercial purposes will also reduce incidences of `one chance’ and other crimes.”
She pleaded with the government to train traffic law enforcers to be civil by helping motorists rather than waiting for them to flout the laws.
Mr Haruna Ibrahim, a company driver, said: “The laws are good; they will enable most companies to put their vehicles in order.
“Some companies’ vehicles are so rickety that they constitute nuisance on the road but because they belong to reputable companies, nobody cares.
“Some companies’ vehicles don’t have valid documents even their drivers drive without driving licences. Are they above the law?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Mr Seye Agunbiade, a commercial bus operator, said that full enforcement would affect so many motorists, saying also that the fines and penalties were on the high side.
Agunbiade said: “Haba! These laws and penalties are going to send most people out of business. The government must act with a human face.
“We voted for this government with hope for a better future; not to make life unbearable for us. The fines and penalties are too much and should be revisited.
“Although some of the traffic rules are good, but the penalties are too harsh; government should please help us to review them with our union leaders,” he said.
Mr Monday Ogaga, another commercial bus driver, said that he was a responsible driver who knew traffic rules and would not flout them.
Ogaga also complained that the fines and penalties were not friendly and must be reviewed.
Speaking, Mr Olawale Musa, General Manager of LASTMA, had told NAN that ignorance of the rules was not an excuse.
He said that LASTMA had before now placed many jingles on the radio, television stations and advertisements in newspapers to sensitise the public.
Musa, who urged all motorists to adhere strictly to the extant law, added that LASTMA officials had been trained to be civil and help motorists that called for their help while in doubt of the right of way.
NAN reports that the offences which LASTMA stated that will attract forfeiture of vehicles by offenders include: violation of routes by commercial vehicles, disobeying traffic control and personnel.
Others are parking on the yellow line on a public highway or illegal parking, neglect of traffic directions, vehicles crossing double yellow line/centre line.
It also stated that drivers who ignore the offside rule by staying within the yellow junction box would also lose their vehicles if arrested.
Other offences that would attract forfeiture of vehicles are failure to yield to the right of way of to pedestrians at a Zebra crossing, failure of a slow-moving vehicle to keep to the right lane, driving in a direction prohibited by the law and neglect of traffic directions.
Overloading of a commercial vehicle will attract seizure of the vehicle as well.
Also, those whose vehicles are parked or driven on the walkways or kerbs will have them impounded.
Bullion van driving in a direction prohibited by law will also be seized.
Unlicensed motorcyclists will also lose their bikes as well as those driven by minors.