by Adedayo Ademuwagun
Lagos will have its first “day without honking” tomorrow, and the awareness has spread widely. Some people are looking forward to it. But will it work? Can Lagos go the day without honking?
Many motorists are quite optimistic about this initiative. Tunde says, “I heard about it on radio and also read it in the papers. I think it’s a good idea. It’s something that we need to do. At least it will help us develop some patience. You know many motorists aren’t patient on the road. Even when they don’t need to honk, they do so in a very annoying way. But with this kind of initiative we’ll learn to be patient with each other on the road. So even if the vehicle in front of you is a bit slow, instead of honking, you’ll be patient and wait for the driver to move. It’s something that should be done so people would get accustomed to it. I’m pleased with the idea and I’m going to comply tomorrow.”
But some motorists are sceptical. Mutair says, “I don’t think it will work. How do you drive in Lagos without honking? I think it’s not practicable. Some of these car drivers, they would wind up and plug their ears with earphones, so how will they hear you unless you honk very well. This thing cannot work. I will honk tomorrow if I have to. Surely no one will arrest me for mere honking.”
“It’s a bizarre idea and I don’t see the point,” says Akin. “Honking is part of driving. It’s a way to communicate to other road users. I don’t see how this will work. I think the government should understand that this is Lagos. Our society hasn’t reached that level of civilisation where motorists can get around sp easily without honking as much. If I want to turn a bend or in case I want to overtake a vehicle, will I yell or come out of my bus to tell them to move or what? Maybe this will work in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and those places. But on the mainland here I think it’s impracticable. The only thing that could force people to comply is the fear of LASTMA. Otherwise most people will not obey the directive.”
Meanwhile LASTMA officers say they don’t have any mandate to arrest or fine anyone who honks.
Olawole is a LASTMA officer and he’s wearing a promo apparel for the special day. He says, “The purpose of the initiative is to create awareness about noise pollution and the need to avoid honking unnecessarily. We will not be arresting or fining people for honking, but we’ll be on the ground to caution drivers. I think the main point of the exercise is to check the abuse of horns and not to bar people from honking. But we will be there to caution them and make sure that honking is minimal tomorrow in compliance with the directive.”
The International Business Times India reports that a group of campaigners in Karnatak state in India introduced a similar no honking initiative two years ago to dissuade drivers from honking excessively. Ever since then, reports IBT India, Mondays are observed in the state capital as no-honking day with billboards bearing messages such as “Do not honk unnecessarily.”
The campaign has got significant government and public support, and IBT India reports that there’s been a decrease in honking in that metropolis especially on Mondays. Campaigners hope that more people would become aware about the need to honk less and they hope it will steadily reduce excessive honking.