DUE to its large population density, Lagos is not expected to be exempted from one of the main traffic challenges associated with a mega-metropolitan city. Every densely populated city continuously deploys possible means available to combat traffic congestion, which is peculiar to road transportation, being the most common means of travelling. While huge population is not the only reason Lagosians encounter traffic congestion, other reasons may be due to factors that are self-inflicted. In order to ensure constant traffic flow on all Lagos roads, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) is not leaving any stone unturned to reduce travel delays and make road users spend less travel time. In a bid to improve the efficiency of LASTMA personnel, the Lagos State Government deployed Special Traffic Mayor (STM) to join in the work of easing road traffic statewide. The creation of STM is to complement LASTMA officers in their primary assignment of traffic control and management. On December 16, 2021, at the Rebranding of STMs and interactive session with core stakeholders at the LASTMA headquarters, Oshodi, Lagos, where about 25 volunteers were inducted as Traffic Mayors to complement the efforts of LASTMA personnel,the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Transportation, Mr. ToyinFayinka, said the STMs and LASTMA are two arms which are not in competition with each other but they are to cooperate for free flow of traffic that has become second nature to the commercial capital of Nigeria.
In the words of Mr. Fayinka while addressing LASTMA officers, he said “Don’t see them as your opposition because they are not collecting your salary nor delaying your promotion but they are established to improve your operations.” He went further to add, “I would like to advise LASTMA officials to always support STM in addressing emergency issues when need be, for quick and effective operations.” The Special Adviser made it clear that majority of the STMs are retired civil servants and successful businessmen who have passion for traffic control, so they deserve their total support. He reminded everyone that, what goes around comes around and that the present LASTMA officials could become STM too after their retirement. At the rebranding of the STMs, and speaking through LASTMA’s Director of Operations, Mr. Peter Gbejemede, the General Manager of LASTMA, Mr. BolajiOreagba said the rebranding of LASTMA mayor was necessary for a better service to humanity. The GM said, “rebranding has many meanings; it’s either you overhaul, re-launch, remodel, revamp, or reinvent for better service.” “Traffic control is an outdoor occupation, night or day for long hours in all weathers, and is considered a dangerous occupation due to the high risk of being hit by passing vehicles. The STM work is a voluntary service of the state as a special call and rare honour, which must be pursued with great resilience and objectivity, and a noble service to mankind”, Mr. Oreagba further added. He concluded by urging the STMs to see themselves as worthy ambassadors of the Government and the people they are serving as the bridge across the board at both ends and a great pride to humanity.
Generally, the yuletide season is usually characterized with increase in human and vehicular movements as social functions are on the rise. This season of partying, let individuals or families who are in the habit of closing down streets and inner roads which serve as alternatives for drivers thereby preventing traffic flows should desist from doing so. They erect canopies and throw parties in open space without putting into consideration the convenience of other road users. They say, after all, no one owns the road, so they are at liberty to use it any way they like. If you hold such view, be warned that you are infringing on the rights of other road users and as such you are violating the traffic law of obstruction. Car owners who park indiscriminately on busy inner roads,all in the name of holding ceremonies, social gatherings or end-of-the-year parties, must tread with caution to avoid complicating traffic situation in Lagos. Merely sighting fleets of cars parked on both sides of a street is enough to tell that the adjoining roads around there are blocked or bottlenecked.
It is also important to state that crime rate is likely to reduce if the roads are free of traffic. Traffic robbers will have no work to do if all roads are free with vehicles moving to and fro barring any breakdown or impediment occasioned by mechanical fault. Let all motorists maintain speed limits to avert avoidable accidents this festive season especially. For an enjoyable celebration season, we all must make concerted and deliberate efforts to ensure a traffic-free yuletide this year end. As we move Lagos forward, the responsibility of returning and sustaining sanity on our roads is not only in the hands of our traffic managers and controllers, but in the hands of every road user. No matter what is being done to tackle traffic congestion, if motorists do not obey traffic laws, there would be no headway. Whether traffic is controlled manually (through LASTMA personnel) or mechanically at signalized junctions via traffic lights, if every road user chooses to disobey traffic laws, then we all may be heading for a State of disorderliness, unruliness and indiscipline. The onus of ensuring a traffic-free yuletide is on every Lagosian; we sanitise our society when we obey traffic laws.
A saner and traffic-free Lagos can be fully achieved if we all obey traffic laws always. All hands must therefore be on deck because the uplift of Lagos is a collective responsibility of all; not the duty of government and traffic personnel alone. So,for this yuletide season to be well seasoned with happiness, less travel time and ease of travelling within, to and from Lagos, itsresidents and road users must, in totality, obey all traffic laws.
- Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA