Stop Abuse Of Emergency Lines


As important as emergency call is, it is disheartening that some residents of Lagos State have abused it by making 1.8 million prank calls in just two months to the toll free 767 distress telephone line opened by the state government.

It was with utter disgust and dismay that the state governor, Babatunde Fashola, revealed this unpatriotic act Tuesday while commissioning the Lagos Command and Security Centre at Alausa, Ikeja.

We cannot fathom why anybody would abuse such important social service put in place by the state government to provide relief or rescue people in emergency situations.

When mischievous citizens make prank calls on emergency lines, they compromise the effective use of such lines as prank calls and genuine ones would compete to get through to the emergency service providers and when the lines are jammed, the ultimate losers are victims in dire need of help. In such a situation, the attention of emergency providers are usually divided and they end up wasting the precious time and resources they would have used to attend to those who made genuine calls.

That there were 1.8 million of such prank calls in just two months suggests the mischievous callers took their unpatriotic act to a ridiculous level. This is highly unacceptable and must be stopped.

And if the pranksters persist in their nefarious act, the Lagos State House of Assembly should expedite action on the bill the state government has sent to it to pass into law to empower the government to punish such elements.

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In societies where law and order prevail, such offenders go to jail. This is what we recommend.

In view of the prevailing security challenges the nation is facing, toying with emergency phone calls could undermine effective provision of security for all citizens.

We call on parents to monitor and educate their children on the need to avoid making such calls as investigations revealed that the bulk of the 1.8 million fake calls were made by youths. They should not allow their youthful exuberance becloud their sense of patriotism.

Since any call can be monitored and its origin traced, it is just a matter of time before those who engage in this anti-social act end up on the wrong side of the law.

Since the 767 toll free line was introduced in 2008, it has achieved significant impact, with emergency calls increasing from 417,000 in 2008 to 32 million calls at the end of 2011. The emergency 767 line is so effective that whenever it is dialed, the response is almost instantaneous. Those who doubt it should try the number during emergency situations. It is this success story that pranksters want to taint by their worthless calls that do not serve anybody any good.

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