by Isi Esene
The governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola yesterday signed the state traffic bill in to law. The law, which appeared somewhat like the Old Testament Ten Commandments, with accompanying punishments for violation, prohibits many acts hitherto considered ‘normal’ by Lagos road users.
At the signing ceremony which took place at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Alausa, Ikeja, the governor gave statistics to justify the enactment of the new law saying the law is the government’s “intervention to the alarming statistics of road accidents, especially those caused by reckless driving and activities of commercial motorcyclists”.
He continued saying, “From records at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), 722 accidents were reported, comprising 568 males and 154 females between January and July this year.
“At our Toll Gate Trauma Centre, 254 accidents, which resulted in 35 deaths, were recorded during the same period. Fifty per cent of the cases were caused by Okada riders, 27 per cent of the victims were passengers, and 23 per cent pedestrians.
“These are alarming figures and we cannot afford to allow this to continue, hence our intervention with this law,” he said.
Lagos State’s attorney-general and commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, explained that the law would not take effect until adequate enlightenment have taken place to intimate the citizenry on the import of the new law. He explained that the law was not instituted to victimize road users but to help mitigate against traffic congestion and increase the life expectancy of Lagosians.
The new traffic law has made it a ‘sin’ to eat, drink, count money, and pick telephone calls while driving on Lagos roads; this attracts a fine of N30,000 if violated.
It has also banned commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada, cart, wheel barrow, and tricycle operators from plying the state’s section of major highways. These highways are the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Agege Motor Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Eko Bridge, Third Mainland Bridge, Carter Bridge, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Victoria Island-Lekki-Epe Expressway, and in addition, all bridges in the state.
According to the BusinessDay Newspapers, commercial motorcyclists must limit their activities to between 6 and 8pm on permitted routes. Any second outside this will attract sanctions from traffic enforcers like Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Police.
Even the courier companies despatch employees who are allowed on these highways need to a have a specified engine capacity (200cc) to obtain permission to do so. They must also bear the prescribed number plates and identification, fitted with proper mail cabin, and must not have any accompanying passenger.
The law also prohibits articulated trucks (trailers and others) from entering or moving within the Lagos metropolis from 6am to 9pm. This, however, does not affect fuel tankers and long passenger vehicles. Defaulters are to pay a fine of N50,000 or risk a six-month imprisonment if found culpable.
For many Lagosians who have for long had a running battle with the activities of LASTMA, this law might just be another fuel to rekindle the longstanding ‘war’ between traffic enforcers and perceived offenders.