Dear LASG, isn’t LASTMA a threat to the Lagos ‘mega city’ vision?

If you live in Lagos and do not have any story to tell about the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), you probably arrived last week and have been indoors since. The stories are usually most likely negative and will make you question what exactly they are on the roads for; especially when you remember Traffic police.

But, they are not the only overzealous men in uniform right?

Policemen Tuesday, reportedly manhandled, harassed, and handcuffed an officer of LASTMA, Odugbemi Eyitayo, in Yaba, over enforcement of traffic offense. This drew the ire of eyewitnesses, whose intervention to save the LASTMA officer from further harassment was rebuffed as the LASTMA officer was taken to the Sabo Police Station in handcuffs.

This is not a new development and there have been a series of attacks on LASTMA officers in the line of duty in recent times, and reports of killings.

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According to Vanguard, an eyewitness said the LASTMA official was trying to stop a private car owner from using the BRT lane, but the incident turned into a ruckus. The driver turned out to be a policeman, who drew other policemen from nearby, and the LASTMA official was whisked away.

LASTMA General Manager, Bolaji Oreagba, who confirmed the incident, condemned the act he described as “unfortunate.” According to him, the impounded car of the suspect is currently at the LASTMA yard pending trial of the matter in a magistrate’s court soon. ‘Unfortunate’ may be subtle here.

The road traffic body, LASTMA, according to the Lagos government, is a well-thought-out intervention by the state government to tackle the menace of traffic congestion. And they are obliged to prevent road users from violating traffic rules.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, at the maiden Lagos Traffic Radio 96.1FM and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) engagement forum, said LASTMA’s advent on the transportation scene, traffic management had gone a notch higher, reducing build-ups, which used to stretch several miles in the metropolis.

A statement that rebelliously negates the reality in Lagos, except we wanted to be politically correct.

We may agree that LASTMA officials are what the state needs to cure the menace of traffic, and they may have gone a certain extent to be acknowledged. Yet, their priggishness has always repainted the recommendation board – not in their favour.

One example.

The story may be that the lady in the picture tried to struggle with them and came out with injuries, but no uniform men are ordinarily supposed to have physical struggles with civilians. But, this is Nigeria – where anything goes.

In doing their duties, LASTMA officials should be guiding drivers and controlling traffic, also preventing congestion in areas like bus stops. The case is LASTMA officials act like the driver has violated the laws of murder and should be dealt with precariously.

A law is a law, no doubt, and Lagos drivers hardly behave like they passed through a driving school, or took driving lessons at least, but they say ‘evil does not repay evil’ – unless we want to deny that LASTMA officials do not sometimes cause traffic congestion and unnecessary drama on Lagos roads.

The mission statement on the LASTMA site reads, “To reduce deaths, injuries, and economic losses through road traffic accidents, conflicts, congestion and delays on the public highways in Lagos by employing modern traffic management techniques to inject order and control into the road traffic system in the state.” Please say ‘lol’ with me.

Lagos aims to be a mega-city and is nowhere near that dream. Not with traffic congestion still a major cause of concern. If we are going to have a body that should take of the traffic situation in the state, let us have them doing their jobs like professionals, not like the men that collect tickets at the bus stops.

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