Non-availability of road signs worries motorists
The ubiquitous Lagos snarling traffic is one of the nagging issues Lagos motorists and commuters have to daily grapple with across the city. While the road users are becoming more and more helpless, the situation appears to be deteriorating. It was, therefore, not surprising that, at a point, the state government had to establish a traffic radio to help residents and motorists navigate through the city. This has since been complemented by many private and other state-owned media houses, especially broadcast stations that are running traffic-related programmes. This has helped the citizens, in no small measure, to monitor the traffic situation across the city.
But while all this effort has alleviated the distress of motorists and other road users in this regard, one issue that is undermining government’s efforts is the non-availability of road signs at major roads, which ordinarily should serve as guide to motorists and aid their movements across the city. This is even further complicated at night, what with many roads not having streetlights, resulting in drivers often missing their way, aside running into culverts and road medians. In many cases, the road signs and reflective signs have been damaged, thereby becoming faded and unable to serve their primary purpose.
What appears like adding salt to the injury is the misconduct of some traffic officers, who will always exploit the situation, mostly during the day to extort. Some have even alleged that the signs are deliberately removed, so that hapless motorists could fall prey. It is not uncommon to see these unscrupulous traffic officers lurking in a nearby corner or hidden place, only to pounce on their unfortunate victims.
A motorist, Ebenezer Amos, said he was coming from the Lagos international Airport and needed to link the Odo Iya Alaro Bridge. He said he was on the fast lane and because there are two road diversions that linked the fast and service lanes on Airport Road, he decided to take the first diversion. He explained that just as he linked the service lane from the fast lane, a team of Police officers, who claimed to be members of the state Task Force blocked his car with two commercial buses, one from behind and the other by the side. He claimed that the alarming manner the officers jumped down from their buses sent a wrong signal, as if he was a common criminal. He narrated that the officers ordered him to roll down his glasses, which he did. Since nobody thought it appropriate to promptly tell him what his offence was, he asked what the matter was. They claimed he entered the service lane through a wrong diversion.
Amos said this was despite there was no sign to alert a motorist that the first diversion was for those on service lane planning to link the fast lane, while the second diversion was for motorists on the fast lane intending to link the service lane to be able to climb the Odo Iya Alaro Bridge
The cases of worn road signs are also worrisome, as they constitute a major headache to motorists. This is particularly noticeable along major roads, where BRT lanes have been carved out, and many motorists often run into the BRT median at night. To help motorists navigate the roads, the state government had, some years back, placed reflective signs at each entry points. But those signs have disappeared in many places.
Some of the places where signs were deliberately removed include Ewe Nla Junction along the service lane of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway towards Oshodi Bus Stop, which is one-way. The road sign here had been removed, although it was later re-installed, following The Guardian’s report. Still within Oshodi, some of the road signs that usually alert motorists on a section of Boladale Street, which was one-way, were also removed, although they have also been re-installed after
The Guardian reported that members of the state Task Force were using the non-availability of the signs to extort motorists. However, the signs have disappeared again, just weeks after they were installed. Boladale is a long stretch of road from Oshodi to Charity, but less than 50 metre of it is one-way. This comprises Olaogun Lane and Church Street junctions. The traffic route expects motorists coming from the beginning of Boladale Street to move through Olaogun Lane to link Oshodi Road to connect Church Street and then reconnect Boladale Street to link Charity Bus Stop. But rather than stand around Olaogun Lane to direct motorists that are unfamiliar with the route, the Task Force officials or traffic officers prefer staying about 15 metres between Olaogun Lane and Church Street to arrest motorists that drive through Olaogun Lane Junction. But the signs installed to alert motorists had been removed, just weeks after they were placed there.
On the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, inward Oshodi, traffic officers from Mushin Local Council are always prowling on the route to arrest motorists who park by the roadside by the road shoulder. This is despite there are no warning signs to tell motorists not to park in these spaces. A section of the corridor around Iyana-Isolo has been turned into a commercial parking lot by the local council, where motorists have to part with certain sum to park their vehicles. So, whenever motorists park their vehicles in open spaces with non-parking order, council officials often tow vehicles parked in these places.
A motorist, Michael Adebayo, said he does not like driving to any part of Lagos he is not conversant with, to avoid falling prey to traffic officers.
He said: “I have discovered that many Lagos roads have no sign to direct motorists, and these traffic officers are always on ground to enforce the traffic law, rather than direct you on how to move without violating the law.
“The irony is that about six officers might be at a point to arrest motorists, when just a traffic officer at the beginning of the road could help control traffic off the one-way, as motorists are approaching the junction or the road.
“I had a bitter experience at Oworo area. In that place, there was no way anyone could know the section of a straight road is one-way. I wonder how the planners of the area did that. I can’t remember the name of the street right now, but I was made to cough out huge some of money by these law enforcers.”
Adebayo, therefore, called on the government to install road signs and put in place measures that would help motorists comply by having a traffic officer at the entrance of roads or sections of roads that are one-way to help motorists navigate.
In his view, such measures would prevent wasted economic and man-hours, as many of the traffic officers and members of the state task force in charge often take bribe after arresting motorists. “So, they are enforcing the law for themselves and not for the state, since the proceeds go into their pockets,” he said.
The Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka, said in places where the road signs were removed, the government has played its part by reinstalling the signs. He, however, said the community also has a role to play by alerting government, as well as ensuring that the signs are not removed.
He said: “It is unfortunate that when government put up these signs, miscreants and hoodlums would remove them for their selfish interest of extorting unsuspecting motorists and residents.
“So, we implore residents to alert the state government about issues like this by writing the state government and the needful would be done.”He implored residents to get accustomed to routes within their domain and not use the excuse of non-availability of signs to break traffic rules. Nonetheless, he said those who do not live within a location might be excused where there are no road signs.
He, therefore, called on residents to help government protect the signs from being vandalised or removed, as government and the citizens are partners in progress.