Preventing Carnage On Lagos Roads

Opinion

By Mamud Hassan 

The incessant cases of road accidents, traffic gridlock and threat to lives and property by trailer and tanker drivers in Lagos State have reached an alarming level. The underlying  motive behind the state government`s decision to introduce laws regulating the movement and parking of articulated vehicles in the state is basically to prevent road accidents occasioned by articulated vehicles in the state.

No doubt, Lagos will continue to attract articulated vehicles because of its prime socio-economic status in the country. The state is home to 22 industrial estates, 60% of nation`s industrial and commercial ventures, 70% of national maritime cargoes and consume about 50% of petroleum products in the country.

Additionally, Lagos is  home to the biggest ports and oil tank farms in the country.  It should, however, be stated that the majority of road accidents and traffic related problems in the state are caused by human factors. On the Oshodi/Apapa and Mile 2 axis of the state, for instance, trailers and tankers are indiscriminately parked on either sides of the road, thereby causing traffic chaos along the axis.

On many occasions, unlatched containers have fallen on the roads killing innocent people in addition to causing various degrees of turmoil on the road.

Contrary to stereotypical belief, accidents are not divinely caused but by human factors. As previously stated, most road accidents, occur due to drivers` lawlessness and recklessness. It is to curb road accidents and save lives and property that the Lagos State Traffic Law was promulgated in 2012 to regulate and manage traffic in the state.

However, despite the efforts of various traffic and safety management agencies across the country to reduce road accidents, it is sad that many drivers are yet to comply with necessary safety measures. According to a Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) statistics, in a particular year, 4,260 deaths were recorded on Nigerian roads, representing an average of 12 deaths per day, while 20,752 injuries were recorded, translating to an average of 57 injuries daily.

This makes accident rate in Nigeria to rank among the highest in the world. There is, therefore, an urgent need for relevant stakeholders to partner with the state government in order to redress the ugly trend. This is where organisations and groups such as National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Union of Truck and Quarry Employers of Nigeria (UTQEN) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) come in.

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They need to do more to curb unruly behaviour of drivers on the road. It is to curb road accidents, ensure protection of life and property that section 2(1) of Lagos State Road Traffic Law says that no trailer other than petrol tankers and long vehicles used in conveying passengers shall enter into or travel within the metropolis of Lagos between the hours of 6:00 a.m. – 9:00p.m. Section 2 (2) further stipulates that any driver who is found contravening the provision of this section shall have his vehicle impounded by a duly authorised officer of the Authority and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine of N50,000 or a term of imprisonment for 6 months or both.

Unfortunately, rather than complement government’s efforts through prompt compliance with traffic laws, trailers and articulated drivers are compounding the situation through blatant disdain for law and order.  Aside promulgating the traffic law, government has improved on the quantity and quality of road furniture in the state. In the past one year, the state has constructed over 25,000 road signage while over 278.6 kilometres of pavements have been marked. This is aside the provision of pedestrian crossing in 250 locations in the state.

In order to preserve lives, government has provided pedestrian walkways on every new project. Besides, 91 new traffic signal lights have been installed at various points across the state to encourage road safety. In order to enhance professionalism and discipline among officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), regular local and international trainings are regularly organised for them.

To date, over 3000 LASTMA officials have been trained on various aspects of traffic management and road safety.  To enhance safety and operational efficiency, the government has increased LASTMA operational zones from 11 to 35 while 10 new Area Commands have also been created. New hands are equally being recruited, trained and deployed to complement the existing LASTMA officials. The Lagos Drivers` Institute, LASDRI, has equally continued to make its mark in the training and certification of drivers in the state. However, despite all these government’s modest efforts, other stakeholders are yet to sufficiently demonstrate strong resolve towards making Lagos roads free of accident.

Reducing accidents on our roads would require effective support and cooperation of motor vehicle owners, drivers’ associations and other relevant stakeholders. Trailer and tanker owners must ensure that their vehicles are regularly maintained to avoid incessant break downs on major highways. The maintenance schedule drawn up must be committed to.  In addition, vehicle inspectors must regularly ensure that only roadworthy vehicles are on the road. Unlatched trailers must not be allowed to ply our roads. Motor park owners and drivers’ associations should discourage sales of drugs and alcoholic drinks at motor parks. The drivers’ unions need to enlighten their members on the need to obey traffic laws and respect traffic officers. Additionally, leadership of the drivers’ associations must endeavour to sanction erring members and ensure all vehicles are registered with the appropriate government agencies.

It is only when every stakeholder plays its role accordingly and cooperates with the government and her agencies that dream of achieving a free accident day on our roads can be achieved. This can only be possible and achievable when we all see road safety as a matter of collective responsibility.

•Mamud is PRO, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).