Opinion

LAGOS STATE AND FORBES RATING (A Way Forward) by AWOSANYA, A. R.

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LAGOS STATE AND FORBES RATING(A Way Forward)

Recently, Forbes released the best and worst cities for drivers in the world. To my amaze, Lagos was listed as the third worst city after Kolkata, India and Karachi, Pakistan, making Lagos the worst city in Africa for drivers. It is shocking because this report is in divergence to the one made in January, 2017 by vanguard Newspaper listing Lagos as one of the best cities in Africa for drivers, as cited in one of my articles titled “Record Management and Vital Cases in LASTMA” (Published in BlackboxNigeria).

One of the most crucial components needed for controlling and managing vehicular movement in a city with high influx of vehicles like Lagos is an effective and efficient operational patrol vehicles and team. At this juncture, let me commend Lagos State Government (LASG) and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) for their collective efforts on the provision of ten (10) Ranger Ford operational patrol vehicles to cover strategic zones in Lagos State. This of course is impressive as it will further aid the operation of the agency’s personnel on the road as well as to change the perception of the public positively towards the agency and its personnel. Kudos goes to our amiable governor, Akinwumi Ambode, for his actions toward revitalizing LASTMA, and to our vibrant and active general manager (LASTMA), Olawale Musa for his uncommon representation. It is however depressing and dispiriting for patrol teams in other zonal jurisdiction especially those ones working relentlessly to achieve the mission of the agency despite little or no supervision.

The positions or attitudes of average motorists in Lagos state against the operation of LASTMA officials is somewhat discouraging due to one of the functions of the agency – Enforcement. In order words, the public perception and their preconceived notion towards LASTMA personnel on the road is not impressive, not because there is weak performance in the traffic control, but because the enforcement chunk of the officers appears unbearable, and this therefore impairs their relationship with the officers. Though, there is nowhere in the world where the entire public make peace with the law enforcement agents. This is because human beings are socially difficult to be controlled except if there is an attachment of punishment to the violation of laid down laws. According to Control Theory of crime, inner controls and outer controls work against each other, making violators deviate from rules and regulations (Giddens et. al, 2009). In other words, nobody wants to be controlled, and such attitude leads to the violation of laws and order.

Therefore, in order to redeem the image of the agency, it is observed that it could not only be achieved by changing the attitude of LASTMA personnel to a civil form as it is believed that everyone’s personality is relative by internal and external forces and factors. No matter the social-friendly enforcement adopted, the difference in socio-cultural background of the masses would mar the civic approach of law enforcement. It will kill the morale of the personnel. Hence, the image of the agency will most importantly be redeemed if there is an all-encompassing support from the leadership. The body language and policy adopted should be slightly stringent, and there should be provision for adequate basic equipment to further aid the operation of the agency. One of the basic equipment required for effective traffic operation and management is the operational patrol vehicles.

Nevertheless, patrol is purposively to enforce law within an assigned specific geographical area. Thus, a patrol is a group of law enforcement personnel attached to monitor a geographical area. Streamlining this definition to traffic control and management, patrol is a group of traffic personnel monitoring and controlling traffic situations within a zonal jurisdiction. To maintain easy flow of traffic, and sanity on the road, enforcement of traffic laws on deviant users is adopted by the patrol team. In the course of monitoring and controlling traffic, as well as enforcing traffic laws, the patrol protects people’s lives and property. They respond to stranded motorists (e.g. breakdowns) including accidents.

Notwithstanding, the most visible LASTMA related asset in the public eye and mind is the operational patrol vehicle. To create a positive perception from the public, the patrol vehicles are expected to be free of dents, clean, and properly managed in order to present a picture of LASTMA competency. There is this adage that says “as you dressed so you shall be addressed”. The operational patrol vehicles are expected to be a symbol of what the citizens’ respect and the traffic offenders fear (Marty Katz, 2013). Patrol vehicles in dilapidated conditions would not command respect from the public, and would not be feared by the offenders. An operational patrol vehicle not in right shape, high mileage or in despair would never aid a quick response to emergency traffic issues. If this happens, traffic operation within the zone would be impaired, and traffic gridlock would be persistent due to impediments unattended to or to which are slowly attended. Thus, vehicular and people’s movement would be sluggish; it would result to economic losses; government and the agency would be negatively labeled; and the traffic officers would be subjectively assaulted and abused for reasons beyond their explanation.

I will give only one recommendation on this article. Let the agency provide more patrol vehicles. They might not all necessarily be new ones like the ones supplied recently in the Headquarter. If the ones withdrew from the commanders could be rebranded and put in good working conditions, it will go a long way to improve the operation of the patrol teams on the road. If possible, I will implore our honorable General Manager, LASTMA, to liaise with our amiable governor on providing more operational patrol vehicles. If this could be put in place, it is going to encourage the officers on the patrol team, as well as putting the motorists in right order.

Thank you.

AWOSANYA, A. R.

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