7th February, 2012
Once again, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, the agency charged with traffic control in the state, was in the news for the wrong reason last week.
On Thursday, one of its officials was reported to have dragged down a commuter bus conductor from a moving vehicle at the toll gate end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the unlucky conductor was later crushed to death by an oncoming vehicle.
Following his death, passersby and others who witnessed the incident, pounced on one of the LASTMA officials and attempted to lynch him but he was saved by a police patrol team who took him to the Ketu Police Station. Commuter bus drivers later took to the streets to protest the death of the conductor.
In its reaction to the incident, the Lagos State government expressed regret on the incident it described as unfortunate and avoidable. While expressing government’s position on the sad incident, the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, said the government was touched by the death of the bus conductor and assured that government would leave no stone unturned in getting to the root of the tragedy.
To underscore government’s reponse on the matter, Opeifa disclosed further that the LASTMA men involved in the incident had been arrested and handed over to the police for the law to takes its course and to serve as a deterrent to others.
We are, however, surprised to learn that the police denied having the suspects in their custody as claimed by the transportation commissioner. Issuing a rebuttal immediately the story of the handing over of the LASTMA men to the police came out, policemen at Ketu Police Station denied that some suspects were handed over to them and promised to alert the state Commissioner of Police, Yakubu Alkali, over the incident.
The police clarified that the only LASTMA official that was brought to their office was the man that was nearly lynched by a mob and that they asked him to seek medical attention in the hospital because he was badly beaten.
We believe that there is a mix up somewhere and government should move to clarify this so that residents would not think that the government was insincere on its promise to bring the culprits to book. The LASTMA officials involved should be arrested and charged to court immediately because they are directly responsible for the death of the conductor.
Just like the government noted in its reaction that the incident was avoidable, we believe that the LASTMA officials who chased the vehicle in which the conductor met his untimely death displayed unnecessary overzealousness and should be brought to book. They should not have chased the vehicle or pulled the conductor down in their attempt to apprehend the driver, who obviously had committed a traffic offence. All they should have done was to take the registration number of the vehicle and effect arrest later at a convenient spot.
The LASTMA men who pulled down the conductor on the highway acted unprofessionally and should be punished for causing the death of the bus conductor. There is no reason to justify their action, considering the fact that they were supposed to be trained traffic officials.
The death of the bus conductor in this circumstance has once again brought to the fore the crude and unprofessional manner some of these traffic officials go about performing their duties.
We want to appeal to the Lagos State government to organise training for these officials in traffic control and enforcement to prevent affordable deaths on our roads. Secondly, there is the need to recruit quality personnel for the agency.