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Pedestrian bridges and suicidal Lagosians

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Pedestrians dashing across the road without using the bridge

Sir: Lagos and traffic congestion are synonymous when describing life in the Centre of Excellence. The reason is not far-fetched because the city is heavily populated and still increasing. Traffic situation would have become worse by now if the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) was not established over 20 years ago given the attendant increasing population occasioned by infrastructural development in the state. LASTMA officials, no doubt, do not only manage and control vehicular traffic, they also handle human traffic while on the road. They help some passersby to cross at times especially on busy roads where there are no overhead bridges for pedestrians. Most times, these traffic managers stop vehicles for school children and the elderly ones thereby distracting them from their primary assignment on the road. Traffic flow is impeded when people cross highways where pedestrian bridges are located, thereby giving traffic managers extra work to do.

One begins to wonder why crossing pedestrians find it difficult to make use of the foot bridges built across Lagos. Why will commuters rather prefer crossing busy highways to using the pedestrian bridges? Why would one deliberately embark on a suicide mission knowing fully well the consequence of such action? Is the risk of crossing the highway in a bid to arrive one’s destination on time worth it in real sense? When would all commuters imbibe the culture of using the pedestrian bridge?

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Pedestrian bridges are built for safety purposes and to prevent avoidable deaths on the highways but these bridges have become abandoned and turned to places for buying, selling, alms begging and displaying all kinds of body diseases. The government spent a lot of money putting modern concrete pedestrian bridges in place in order to ease traffic flow and reduce highway knockdown of passersby crossing the road. Enforcing the use of pedestrian bridges by commuters will be one good way to prevent or reduce road fatalities. This will be one good way to tame the continued failure of pedestrians to use foot bridges. There have been many reports of hit-and-run motorists, who, on daily basis knock down pedestrians who cross busy highways without using overhead bridges.

While there are still many places in Lagos today needing overhead bridges for pedestrians crossing, it is unfortunate that the existing and newly built ones are not being used by pedestrians. Some old iron-built bridges have also become death traps as they may collapse if the use by many is frequent. Some abandoned bridges have also become hideouts for pickpocketing and other criminal activities.

One good way of ensuring that pedestrians use the footbridges is by making public the continuous arrest and prosecution of offenders who cross highways. The publication of the names of defaulters and offenders in media space would serve as deterrence to pedestrians with such intentions. Pedestrian bridges should also not be constructed too high to cater for the acrophobic folks.

• Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA.

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