27th June, 2012
A few years ago, officials of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, and the Lagos State Traffic management Authority, LASTMA, almost resorted to fisticuffs over who controls which roads in Lagos. It was a play out of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, controlled Federal Government and the then Alliance for Democracy controlled Lagos State’s long drawn out battle that was about to get messy if the combatants had not sheathed their swords.
It was a power play in which Lagos State was trying to manage the traffic situation in the state while the PDP was trying to exert unnecessary authority of the Federal Government. It was so banal the FG could stoop so low.
A similar scene seems to be playing out between the Federal Roads Safety Commission, FRSC, and the Lagos State government, this time over who controls traffic in Lagos metropolis when the 3rd Mainland Bridge is closed for repairs.
The announcement by the FRSC that it had jurisdiction to control traffic on the bridge when the repairs begin next month seems to be standing the law on its head. According to the Lagos State government legislation list of the Nigerian constitution, Federal Government has jurisdiction to manage only a federal trunk road, and not a road within the municipality of a state.
When so many other problems are assailing the state and the Federal Government, should the jurisdiction over a state road be our problem? Should the control of traffic in a state be such a cause for concern by the FRSC which is a federal government parastatal?
Lagos State does not seem incapable of handling its traffic situation and the FRSC has not been in the forefront of untangling the chaotic traffic mess that the state experiences sometimes. Why then does the federal agency want to handle the traffic situation when the axial bridge is closed next month?
The highways that link the states are often a mess, especially the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the FRSC has enough on its hands to untangle the mess that highway of death has become. If this is the case, why then try to muscle its way into the territory of a state which has an apparatus to handle its own traffic problems?
Why does the FRSC leave its job on trunk roads that connect the states to work on the internal traffic problems of a state, or has traffic problems on the third axial bridge in Lagos State become the problem of the federal government?
While we are not taking sides with the Lagos State government, we do not think the closure or partial closure of the 3rd Mainland Bridge should become an issue the FRSC and the Lagos State government should bicker about.
Traffic congestion within Lagos State has never been and should never be the problem of the Federal Government. Issues like this make us look unserious and should never have come up in the first place. Controlling traffic within a state is the least of our problems now and the FRSC should look at other ways it can make itself useful. The traffic situation on the Lagos-Ibadan and the Sagamu-Benin highways are enough to contend with. The unruly trailers and tanker drivers who have turned those roads into death traps should be the concern of the FRSC. There is enough work on those highways to keep the FRSC busy everyday.
Arguing over who has jurisdiction to control traffic in the state when the 3rd Mainland Bridge is closed for repairs hardly fits the role the FRSC was created for. True, the FRSC can help out with the traffic situation anywhere, especially checking the excesses of reckless and lawless motorists, but must the agency assume a role that is primarily the responsibility of a state?
Let’s get serious and do our jobs, and not get in each others’ way. The FRSC has its job cut out and it is yet to finish it. Why take on another?