Lagos residents raise alarm over danger posed by abandoned vehicles
Some Lagos residents have decried the danger posed by increasing number of abandoned and disused vehicles on street corners, roads and highways.
The residents, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the majority of the vehicles have become harbingers of criminals, toilets and mini-dump sites.
According to them, apart from being a haven for criminals and storage of their deadly weapons, the destitute and mentally deranged have found a home in them, making wherever the vehicles are parked an environmental nuisance.
These abandoned disused vehicles are seen around mechanic workshops, police stations and street corners, in front of houses and on highways among others.
It would be recalled that on March 8, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali Baba, ordered the immediate evacuation of all impounded vehicles and unregistered exhibits from police stations across the country.
The order followed the unprofessional manner the vehicles were stacked within police facilities, causing nuisance and disgusting sight.
The IGP had expressed dissatisfaction over the practice of stockpiling vehicles recovered from crime scenes or those whose owners were being contested.
NAN reports that while some communities in Ikorodu, Iyana Ipaja and Epe Local Government Areas, have set up task forces to secure their environment, some areas are calling for government initiative and actions to tackle the menace generally.
A public Analyst, Mr Sunday Podo, said the lack of maintenance culture reflecting in our national life was what was being exhibited on our roads, street corners and highways by owners of abandoned disused vehicles.
“Generally, our attitude to asset maintenance is very poor in Nigeria; even our governments cannot maintain critical facilities like roads, schools, stadiums, bridges and monuments among others.
“Same thing with individuals who buy cars and drive them without proper maintenance until such cars break down and they go home abandoning them on the roads.
“Many leave their vehicles in the mechanic workshop for years,” he said.
Podo said that many people bought vehicles in which their spare parts and expertise were not readily available.
“When they patronise trial and error road-side technicians who further damage the vehicle because they equally lack the necessary expertise, such vehicles become demobilise permanently.
“Another factor responsible for abandoned disused vehicles on our roads are cases of “fake spare parts”, otherwise known as Taiwan.
“Nigerians also have the penchant for big and flashy cars, their mechanism history they do not know. Most of such vehicles later become ‘condemned iron’, in local parlance,” he said.
Podo said that the solution to the menace is for both local and state governments to empower their road transport departments or agencies to remove such vehicles after a notice of seven or more days to their owners.
He said a huge fine should be paid before such vehicles are released to their owners so as to serve as a deterrent to others.
“And if owners fail to show up within the stipulated time frame, the government should enact laws that could empower them to auction such vehicles to members of the public,” he said.
Mr Sesan Oduolowu, a business man in Ikorodu, said that government had relented on monitoring and removal of abandoned vehicles as being done in the past.
He said that the state and the local governments should set up committees that would be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that streets were free of vehicles capable of causing obstruction, traffic jams and littering of refuse in Lagos State.
Oduolowu said that abandoned disused vehicles on streets also serve as hideouts to miscreants, sometimes at odd hours of the day before perpetrating their evil acts at night.
“Government has to do something to reduce the increasing number of abandoned disused vehicles for a cleaner Lagos.
“Some of the vehicles also serve as armoury where some miscreants and hoodlums keep their weapons before engaging in a dastardly act at night,” he said.
Oduolowu said there should be a department in the Ministry of Environment to checkmate and monitor vehicles abandoned for too long on the roads.
Mr Ibrahim Olaoye, a mechanic in Ikorodu, said that streets in Ikorodu have less or no abandoned vehicles due to the increasing number of mechanic workshops in Ikorodu division.
Olaoye added that except mechanic workshops that had vehicles abandoned by their owners for many years, old model vehicles whose owners had died or travelled out of the country, streets in Ikorodu were cleared of such.
He said that due to the holistic approach by leaders in the community concerning security, owners of abandoned disused vehicles are sometimes ago told to move them away while some decided to sell them off as scraps.
“You will hardly see abandoned vehicles in Ikorodu because most houses have compound or hidden spaces where residents can park their vehicles compared to Lagos,” he said.
Some of the reasons advanced for abandoned disused vehicles on roads, highways are those involved in accidents, economic hardship and frustration being faced by owners lately which prevent them from carrying out repairs as at when due.
At police stations, vehicles impounded by the police authorities or recovered from accident scenes, exhibits, comprise vehicles or equipment left unattended to as a result of prolonged litigation surrounding such cases.
Also, high fines for traffic offenders made it difficult for them to retrieve their vehicles.
Mr Lookman Shonibare, Chairman, Community Development Committee, Ikorodu, said the committee agreed with Community Development Association (CDA) Chairmen in one of their meetings that abandoned disused vehicles usually become hideouts for armed robbers.
Shonibare said that they were told to ensure that owners of such vehicles found solutions to them by taking them to mechanic workshops to sell them off.
He said Lagos State Government once had a committee saddled with monitoring and removing abandoned disused vehicles and crushing plant in some local government areas like Epe, to crush marked vehicles but unfortunately there is nothing like that again.
He said that for the Lagos Island, a committee for the removal of abandoned disused vehicles was required which could be monitored by National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
Chief Saheed Aleje, the traditional leader of Baiyeku, said if the state and local governments could start monitoring and sanctioning owners of abandoned disused vehicles, such vehicles would disappear from the roads.
Aleje said that peoples’ lackadaisical attitudes contributed to the increase in abandoned disused vehicles, which had also caused major traffic hold-ups.
“In our area in Baiyeku, we don’t really have many abandoned disused vehicles, but they are much in Lagos Island. Government needs to do something about them for the free flow of traffic,” he said.
In his remark, Alhaji Daudu Oyebanji, Chairman, Community Development Association (CDA), Gowon Estate North, said abandoned vehicles and presence of roadside mechanics are security challenges to the residents.
Oyebanji said large numbers of parked abandoned disused vehicles on the roads have aided the nefarious activities of vandals in the estate.
“This has given us serious security challenges and we decided to have Estate task force to tackle it.
“The taskforce duty is to sensitise the community on the dangers of having mechanic workshops on the major roads and abandoned disused vehicles around the area.
“These two challenges have aided the vandals and some criminal elements to sabotage and vandalise properties belonging to individuals and the community.
“We don’t want them on the road, because it took us years before the roads were rehabilitated, so we don’t want anything that will cause damage or endanger the residents,” Oyebanji said.
Mr Okporka Maduabuchi, Gowon Estate Taskforce Chairman, said people hide inside the abandoned disused vehicles to perpetrate evil at night.
“It is very necessary and urgent we act on those challenges facing the estate, we have vehicles being vandalised in the estate,” he said.
“The taskforce has moved some obstructions out of the roads and served notices to those who are concerned to remove their properties from the main road.
Maduabuchi, a retired Police Officer, said the taskforce had recorded 50 per cent compliance and that some residents are yet to comply.
Mr John Ibijemilusi, the Secretary, Gowon Estate North CDA, said that the taskforce was established also to stop mechanic workshops operating on the roads.
He said before the taskforce, mechanics used to repair vehicles on the main road in the estate.
Ibejilumisi said the taskforce was to bring normalcy to the community as the parking of those abandoned disused vehicles messes up the estate and made everywhere rowdy and some people used the opportunity to perpetrate evil at nights.
In Epe, Head of the Monitoring Team, Mr Taiwo Hassan, said sanctions had been placed on abandoned disused vehicles and vehicles parked illegally on the roadside in the area since 2019.
“Since then, we have set-up a monitoring team to look out for vehicles parked illegally on the road side and we have seized many vehicles so far.
“But, with our continuous enlightenment, motorists have complied with the government directive by not parking abandoned disused vehicles illegally on the roadside,” he said.
Hassan said it was hard to see parked abandoned disused vehicles overnight on the roadside.
“Motorists are now complying with the government directive to avoid sanctions and taxes,” he said.
However, Mr Ashade Abiodun, Executive Director, Green Janitors Sustainable Initiative, Badagry, sees the abandoned disused vehicles as money spinner for government and recycling companies.
According to him, the solution is not farfetched as Lagos State Government needs to set up a recovery centre for abandoned disused vehicles.
“It is not just for them to be removed, Lagos State Government needs to make sure these vehicles are recycled.
“All these vehicles are materials that the producing country reuses in producing another vehicles or electrical gadgets,” he said.
“The government needs to set up a recovery centre for disused vehicles to be sold to recycling processing companies which would, in turn, generate revenue for the state.
“There should be a penalty for the owners of these vehicles, besides being removed, owners need to pay for causing a menace to the environment with their vehicles,” he said.
He said besides harbouring criminals at day breaks, it had also become a solid waste storage as public now uses them as mini dump sites.
Abiodun said that the Lagos state government also needs to set up another committee for the removal of abandoned disused vehicles.
According to him, since September 2021, the Lagos State Government suspended the operations of ad-hoc teams of Committee on Removal of Abandoned Vehicles (RAVC) in the 20 Local Governments, LGs, and 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, it had not set up another one.
“There is a need for such a committee to be set up under the supervision of the ministry of transportation to remove these abandoned disused vehicles.
Also, Alhaji Abdul-Rasak Osho, the President, Iporin Housing Estate Association, Surulere, said the state had a solution if they want to solve the problem, adding that abandoned disused vehicles had owners.
“During the time of former governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the state acquired two crushing plants, one in Epe and another in Oshodi.
“By that time the government is ready to clear the mess, the owner of the abandoned disused vehicles will come and pick them.
“What the government will do is to make announcement and let them know that in two weeks, they will clear the roads of abandoned disused vehicles and anybody that did not pick his vehicles will have himself to blame and that compensation for the loss will not be paid.
“I am very sure they will quickly come and clear their vehicles from the roads,” he said.
Mr Felix Godonu, the President, Hengo Badagry, in his opinion, said: “This has turned every nooks and crannies, into serious mess constituting environmental nuisance, posing health and accident challenges to all.
“It is not the sole responsibility of the government but the people as well. Vehicles abandoned by the roadside for over three months should be impounded.
“Roadside mechanical workshops should be discouraged. All mechanical works should be done in the mechanic village.
“Residents should find appropriate ways to dispose of their damaged vehicles as anyone who fails to do this should be punished.
“You will be surprised that even police stations are not exempted, all unclaimed vehicles should be auctioned or converted into public use for the police and other agencies,” Godonu said.