Lagos Assembly Gives More Powers To LASTMA

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With the bill to repeal and re-enact the Road Traffic Law, which is about to be passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, officials of the State Traffic Management Authority LASTMA, will have the powers to arrest, fine, prosecute and ensure that traffic offenders are sent to jail.

 

These include owners of vehicles including motorcycles, popularly called okada, tricycles and bicycles and passengers of the vehicles in some cases.

The bill, which passed through the public hearing process yesterday, also gives powers to the LASTMA officials to prohibit or restrict the use of highways and other such roads as they deem fit just as it granted the power to prohibit the use of sirens where possible.

 

The bill further gives them the power to “demand psychiatric evaluation of any person who drives against the normal flow of traffic or who fails to comply with any of the provisions of this law,” if such an evaluation is seen as necessary by the traffic officials to determine the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

 

Section 2 of the bill which has 42 sections stipulates that in the exercise of the functions of the authority, its officers “shall have the power to arrest where appropriate and allow the alleged offender to pay the fine stipulated for the offence under this law.”

 

This would put to rest the controversy surrounding the right LASTMA officials have to fine traffic offenders.

Section 3 of the bill states that apart from petrol tankers and long vehicles used to convey passengers, no trailer, including those which carry containers, is allowed to enter into or travel within the metropolis of the State between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

 

Subsection 2 of the section stipulates a fine of N50, 000, a term of six months imprisonment or both as the case may be and that his vehicle should be impounded.

 

The bill which bars commercial motorcycle riders from plying restricted areas of the state also stated that nobody would be allowed to ride a motorcycle or tricycle without first

getting a rider’s card from the State Motor Vehicle and Administration Agency (MVAA).

 

Warning that no motorcycle rider must operate without a helmet and that they must not carry pregnant women, women with babies and children under the ages of six, it stresses that, “any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of this section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of three years or to render community service in accordance with the provisions of section 347 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State and shall have his vehicle forfeited to the state.

 

“…The passenger shall also be liable to the same penalty, provided the passenger is not a child,” the bill states.

The bill also states that drivers and owners of any heavy vehicle which passes through a bridge not designed for the purpose should be prepared to repair the bridge should there be any damage.

 

Section 9 of the bill further stipulates that any vehicle driver that fails to follow the instruction of a LASTMA official on duty or drives against oncoming traffic is liable to three years imprisonment or community service in lieu of such imprisonment.

 

Any vehicle owner who parks his vehicle along the road for an unreasonable length of time shall have it impounded. Such owner, according to the bill, would be fined N50, 000 and must pay the towing fee.

 

Anyone who also fails to report abandoned vehicles in his area may be arrested and fined N25, 000 if found guilty and where the owners of such vehicles refuse to claim them within a month, the government must dispose of it.

 

The bill which also empowers the police and Vehicle Inspection Officers to arrest offenders and impound their vehicles where possible, further prescribes a seven-year jail term for any driver who kills anyone recklessly and that anyone who drives recklessly is liable to a fine of N100, 000 or two years imprisonment or both.

 

Anyone according to the bill, who drives on highways without due care or reasonable consideration for other users of that highway may be fined N200,000 when found guilty.

It states further that anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be liable to a fine of N100, 000, two years imprisonment or both and shall be disqualified from driving for one year.

 

The bill which gives power to arrest without warrant, also declares that it is an offence for a driver to enter the BRT lane as the driver and his passengers would be made to face the law.

 

Where a commercial vehicle driver is arrested for overspeeding, the owner of the vehicle shall also face the law.

 

By Eromosele Ebhomele