Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, tells FEMI MAKINDE that the Lagos State Traffic Management laws, reintroduced by the administration of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, are too draconian and should be repealed

How do you view the resuscitation of Lagos State Traffic Management laws by the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration?

The law is not just punitive but too draconian for any decent society. It is like this government is misplacing its priority. What we expect the new Lagos State Government to do is to ensure that the basic welfare of the people in terms of transportation is well taken care of. We expect that they will ensure that the people are satisfied with the road network. The governor ought to have consolidated on the gains of the past administration by ensuring road projects initiated by the past administration are completed in record time.

Apart from the major roads, ancillary roads should be created to ease gridlock on the major roads and this would have reduced the number of hours spent commuting by the people on a daily basis.

The traffic laws are too draconian for the kind of civilised society that Lagos is expected to be. If the roads are good and the people are violating the traffic laws, then that would be a different issue.

Are you saying the residents are not used to the traffic laws, which are not new?

We said it since the days of former Governor Babatunde Fashola when some of these laws were enacted that they conflict with the federal laws. And when this happens, the federal laws should hold sway. We believe that confiscating vehicles of those that violate traffic laws is like killing an ant with a sledgehammer. We criticised Fashola when his administration was crushing seized motorcycles. We said crushing these bikes was unfriendly and exploitative. Some would have paid their fines and their motorcycles would not have been crushed. For some of them, those bikes were their only means of livelihood. There are some of the laws that can be violated inadvertently. Destroying the means of somebody’s livelihood because of such offence, to say the least is cruel. Traffic lights malfunction at times; and there are occasions when these traffic officials lure motorists to break these laws and by the time you get to the middle of the road, you are arrested. If they don’t like your face or you can’t grease their palms, they will confiscate your vehicles.

Lagos made the draconian laws to discourage people from driving in the state or driving to the state. But that is not the way to manage a megacity. They should find out those who are violating the laws. And while doing that, they should make life better for the people and not engage in exploiting them.

Do you also agree with those claiming that the government made the laws to generate revenue rather than to clear gridlock?

That is what I think too. If clearing the gridlock is their major aim, they will first fix the roads. When LASTMA was set up, it was not meant to generate revenue but to clear gridlock and make the movement of people and goods easy and fast in the state. If gridlock is the aim of this administration, I think the first thing they should have done is to repair the bad roads and fill the potholes, which are slowing down traffic. The major highways should be paved and the ancillary roads should be made okay; so that there will be alternative roads for motorists. If the roads are good, I don’t think anybody will want to create impediments on the roads. If that happens, violators should be made to face the law but not draconian laws.

The failed portions of the roads, which are even many on Lagos roads now, are the major reason for gridlock and some drive against the traffic in an attempt to avoid gridlock. Some drive against traffic because they are conveying somebody who is in labour pains to the hospital; some are sick and are being taken to hospital. Driving against traffic is at times engendered by traffic officials themselves.

Culled From: Punch Newspapers