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Traffic worsens as Police, LASTMA, others abandon streets

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[FILES] LASTMA Officials

‘We have ordered officers to resume duty’

The absence of security and traffic operatives has worsened road traffic in Lagos and its environs in the last few days.

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Contrary to the denial by police authorities and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), hardly any policeman or traffic management officers were noticed anywhere on Lagos’s major roads in the last five days.

Consequently, lawlessness has deepened, and crimes widespread, as area-boys and hoodlums take over the job of managing traffic amid extortions of motorists.

The Guardian observed that the traffic gridlocks cut across the state, with Lagos Island, Apapa-Oshodi, and Mile 2 corridors among some of the busiest, especially with trailers and tankers moving in and out of congested Lagos port.

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While some of the motorists lamented spending hours for journeys that should have lasted minutes, others decried passing the night in their vehicles after being stuck in the gridlock.

Some commuters told The Guardian that the traffic gridlock was not strange, though expressed surprise that the security agencies all decided to abandon their duty posts.

A motorist, Oletu Paul, said the absence of law enforcement agencies on the road had worsened the unruly behaviour of drivers in Lagos. He described the traffic in Lagos as a palpable threat to life, which gives hoodlums the opportunity to attack motorists trapped in traffic.

Oletu, who spent over seven hours in traffic from Bolade in Oshodi to Ajayi farms on Lagos Abeokuta expressway on Monday, said the gridlock persists day in and out even worse than it usually does on normal days without curfew.

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He said motorists are now forced to use the Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT lane, which has become a succour to many motorists both private and commercial to escape the never-ending traffic on the route.

Another motorist, Jacob Bolarinwa, called on the government to commit resources to address the situation with the expansion of roads and improve traffic management for easy movement in the metropolis.

Other motorists who shared their views on Twitter decried the absence of law enforcement agents on roads.

Dr. Guendouzi, @fimiletoks, said: “No traffic light, No policemen, No Lastma officials. Crossing this intersection feels like I want to attempt suicide. Lagosians driving like mad people, above speed limits and racing across junctions. Nobody wants to slow down just to check that the intersection is clear.”

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@SegunEmdin, said: “The mess in Lagos this week so far and tonight is the absolute peak. No police, no LASTMA, nothing. Your state is in complete disarray @jidesanwoolu @followlasg.”

For Dayo Ajiboye, @dharyo said: “Seven hours in traffic from Ikoyi to Surulere… Just getting home around 11:55 pm, we do not deserve this in Lagos.”

Ademulegun @swavo_unchained on Wednesday said: “Curfew is 20:00hrs in Lagos, its 25 minutes past curfew and there is mad traffic everywhere with thousands trying to get home. Imagine sending the military to shoot everyone because they are outside? Yea I know it’s crazy too, but that’s how crazy you sound justifying Lekki shootings.”

Another user, Wilson Anietie, @iamwilsonani said: “As we volunteered to clean up Lagos, please can we also volunteer to control traffic?”

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At the end of the attacks, six policemen were killed, 38 others were injured, 48 police formations, and 71 vehicles were burnt and vandalised. The development has left the policemen and other sister agencies demoralised and laid-back.

Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, however, said they were back at their duty posts.
“Our men are fully on the road. We have a strategy of early morning patrol. As early as 5 am, Area Commanders patrol their jurisdictions, so that if they (hoodlums) decide to come out in the morning, we would be there before their arrival. It is a strategy that has worked for us

“Policemen in the command are not cowed. Our spirits have been lifted. The Inspector-General of Police has spoken to us and I have spoken to all my men in the command. There is no more issue of fear. We are out. I, therefore, urge Lagosians to feel free to call on policemen if they have any complaint.

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“Even in areas where police stations were burnt, policemen are still there because we are making makeshift offices for them. Security of such areas should not be jeopardized because some miscreants may want to hijack the situation to attack people. We are making chairs, tables, and even canopies available. We will not abandon people living in areas where police formations were burnt. We must provide them with security,” Odumosu said.

A top LASTMA officer also said that the officers had been redeployed to the streets to ease traffic gridlocks.

He confirmed that the officers had been cautious. “But with the relentless requests by members of the public calling on us to return, we have started managing traffic flow. I personally supervised some today (Thursday), further deployments would be made tomorrow (Friday).”

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