• September 24, 2023

LASTMA and burden of efficient service delivery | The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

For failing to address the daunting challenge of vehicular traffic, which is one of the challenges that it was set up to effectively address 23 years ago, stakeholders, as well as motorists, have stressed the urgent need to rejig and rebrand the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to make it fit for purpose.

According to them, over two decades after the agency was established, the chaotic traffic situation in the state has remained unchanged, thereby constituting a menace for many residents, commuters, and motorists.

The stakeholders lamented that the ever-present traffic gridlock across the state, and the manifest poor traffic management as reflected by the uncoordinated flow of traffic in many parts of the state were indicative of the fact that LASTMA officials have failed to rein in erring motorists, especially commercial bus drivers allegedly due to pecuniary gains.

They further claimed that some unscrupulous LASTMA officials rather than intervene during knotty traffic situations, prefer to look away and lie in wait for motorists that attempt to breach traffic laws in their bid to get away.

Instances also abound where a horde of LASTMA officials huddle metres away from where their services are needed discussing, rather than getting busy.
Last week at the PWD and Airport bus stops inward Ikeja, about 11 officials gathered by the pedestrian bridge flagging down commercial vehicles. This was only metres away from the Ikeja Along and Airport bus stops where their services were seriously needed.

Also, Mile 2 Bus Stop inward Orile routinely experiences traffic snarl that spills to as far as First Gate Bus stop. This traffic jam is usually caused by commercial bus drivers that have turned the expressway into a garage, as well as operatives of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Management, who often hold down trucks whose drivers are reluctant to part way with bribes demanded by these officials.

Ironically, by Mile 2 bridge (both on top and by the foot of the bridge), at least four LASTMA officers are usually there but appear to be very unconcerned with the pains that law-abiding motorists and commuters experience there, while errant drivers either drive against traffic or make U-turn in the wrong place and the process disrupt traffic flow and cause chaos.

A while ago, the state government constituted a dedicated team of LASTMA officials to ensure that articulated vehicles do not obstruct traffic flow around Mile 2 Bus Stop along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, but the team’s tepid approach to the assignment has ensured that it failed to deliver on its mandate.

Consequently, articulated vehicles are daily strewn across the road from Berger Suya Bus Stop to as far as Coker Bus Stop, thereby inflicting pain on motorists who cannot easily drive through that corridor. Most motorists and commuters on bad days over an hour on trips that should only be a few minutes.

Expectedly, there are huge implications for poor traffic management, which has become an albatross in the state.
This was captured in a Connectivity and Productivity Report, by a Lagos-based institute, Danne Institute for Research. It disclosed that Lagos State loses about N4 trillion yearly as a result of its notorious traffic congestion.

“We found that the cost to individuals of traffic congestion is N133,978. 68 per annum for those who own their vehicles and N79,039. 40 each year for those who use public transport. The total loss to Lagos is estimated at 14.12 million hours per day or N3, 834, 340,158,870 per annum,” the report revealed.

Without a doubt, the state government understands the implication of poor traffic management, a development, which gave birth to the establishment of LASTMA.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also recently remarked that if the state achieves a free flow of traffic and a reduction in travel time, it would translate to increased productivity and better economic output for her.

This, to an extent probably explains why in 2020, 1, 017 new LASTMA officers were employed to help in realising the agency’s mandate of aiding the free flow of traffic.

Some stakeholders regret that the government’s efforts in terms of additional personnel, and opening up the state with additional roads and bridges were not yielding appropriate dividends because LASTMA is failing in its duties.

Writing about LASTMA in a national newspaper, a staff of the agency, Kayode Solomon Ojewale, enumerated the three E’s that govern the operations of LASTMA to include Traffic Engineering, Traffic Enlightenment, and Education and Traffic Enforcement.

According to him, the first ‘E’ which stands for Engineering explains how the roads must be created and designed as platforms or avenues for traffic flow. The second ‘E,’ he said has to do with Enlightenment, which is about educating members of the public on rules that govern how roads are used, while the last ‘E’ is for enforcement, which is why LASTMA personnel apprehend traffic law violators.

Ojewale stated that the order in which the three E’s are arranged establishes the fact that enlightenment comes before enforcement, dismissing the allegations by some motorists that LASTMA personnel only arrest and do not apply corrective measures in dealing with traffic infractions committed by some motorists.

He further stated the enlightenment role that LASTMA officers play on the road covers traffic control saying: “Let me state categorically here that traffic management is the primary duty of LASTMA personnel, while arrest is secondary. Both are very important because they are interwoven as lawlessness may prevail if the secondary duty is not carried out.”

But a resident, Tajudeen Ogunyemi disagrees with Ojewale that the allegations by some motorists that LASTMA personnel only arrest, and do not apply corrective measures in dealing with traffic infractions are baseless.

He said that the agency needs rebranding, re-evaluation of its operation, as well as serious re-orientation of its officers while the incorrigible ones among them are shown the way out.

For another resident of the state, Michael Sewanu: “The major objective of LASTMA establishment was to assist, control, maintain and regulate traffic in Lagos State. It is also a part of the agency’s responsibility to assist in directing drivers who may be found wanting thereby ameliorating traffic congestion, go-slow, or hold-ups at strategic and busy junctions where traffic quickly builds up.

“It is now very unfortunate that the same agency has become a threat to road users where men of the agency have converted it to a money-making venture. Today, you can hardly find a team of LASTMA officers without a team of policemen in tow no matter how disciplined motorists in the area are. You find them in mini-buses chasing after vehicles and motorcyclists around the streets, which is a contravention of their rules of engagement.

“I have encountered some officials of the agency that are engaged in a series of nefarious activities far beyond what I call “excesses” directly and indirectly. And my heart bleeds to see such level of injustice being meted out to commuters in Lagos State,” he stated.

John Abiona, expects the state government to carry out a surgical operation on the agency because of the way that it is presently constituted, “it has lost its vision and mission. Many of its operatives are using the organisation to make money rather than serve the state. One wonders what it costs the state yearly to maintain the operations and officers of LASTMA.”

A senior lecturer at the University of Lagos, Dr. Olayinka Agunloye, said that the role of traffic management cannot be underestimated in a busy society like Lagos, adding that there is a structure within LASTMA meant to rein in unruly officers.
He pointed out that it was such a mechanism that led to addressing complaints from motorists regarding the conduct and activities of LASTMA officials at Iyana-Oworo and Ikorodu.

Agunloye, who is an urban planning specialist with a focus on transportation planning said that once the authorities of the agency are up and doing, its officers and men that are erring would be fished out and dealt with decisively.

“It is only when the unit that is meant to play a supervisory role is not doing what it is supposed to do that people complain about them. Administratively, there is a unit that is supposed to check abnormal behaviours among LASTMA staff. If it fails in doing so, complaints will continue to pour in, it is not that the structure is not there.”

Agunloye, therefore, stated that the re-engineering should start from the top echelon of the organisation’s management and trickle down to the foot soldiers “because when the leadership takes its eyes away from the field officials, they continue committing abnormalities, but I can tell you that if you look at the operational structure of LASTMA, they have a unit at the top management that is suppose to check field officers’ activities.

“Motorists and commuters only complain when LASTMA officials inflict pain on them. So, when these officials are not inflicting pain on commuters, there is no way that the complaints would pour in. But right now that complaints are persistent, it means those that are meant to check the field officials are not doing their work, that is where the re-engineering is needed,” Agunloye said.

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