Install Traffic Signs, Expand Court’s Capacity, Residents Tell Govt
THE recent inauguration of the Special Offences (Mobile) Court by the Lagos State government to summarily deal with growing cases of traffic abuses in the state, is the latest in the efforts of the government to bring sanity and civility to driving in the State.
However, as laudable as the initiative appears, given that many prefer it to the days when the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASMA) held sway amid unbridled excesses, residents have called for further public enlightenment on the state’s traffic laws and massive installation of traffic signs across the state. They are also concerned that the Mobile Court does not yet have the capacity to properly cover the length and breath of the state to produce the desired result.
Under the Lagos Traffic Law 2012, neglect of traffic directions is a punishable offence. There are several traffic signs such as the One-Way, Right-Hand and Left-Hand Traffic, Zebra Crossing, Speed Limit, No Parking, No Waiting, No Stopping and No U-Turn, among others.
Also under the law, it is an offence to ride a motorcycle without wearing an approved crash helmet by the rider and passenger. The law also prohibits driving vehicles within restricted routes or beyond official hours. Motorcycles and tricycles are particularly prohibited from riding on major highways in the state like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Oworonshoki-Ikorodu, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and Babangida Boulevard Way. Others are Lekki-Epe Expressway, Funsho Williams Avenue, Agege Motor Road and Eti-Osa-Lekki coastal road.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, had warned at the launch of the Mobile Court that “henceforth traffic offenders such as motorcyclists who drive against traffic and refused to obey traffic signs like zebra crossing and traffic light indication, would no longer find it easy to get away with such crimes in the state.”
Speaking with The Guardian on the issue, a resident in the Okota axis of the state, Sunday Ikenna, said some of the state’s traffic rules are confusing and not implementable.
He said: “Sometimes it is difficult to determine when one is driving against traffic on some Lagos roads. To make matters worse, there are no traffic signs to guide motorists at times. For instance, there are a lot of confusing traffic rules along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway especially on the service lanes. On the road, from Charity Bus Stop, you can face upcoming vehicles from Mile 2 on the service lane but you cannot do that beyond Itire junction or else you will be caught for driving against traffic. Meanwhile, at Itire junction, there is no sign that it is no longer a two-way lane going forward. Also, from Cele Bus Stop, on the service lane, you can face upcoming vehicles from Oshodi until just after Charity Bus Stop. Meanwhile, on the same service lane, it is one way to drive from Mile 2 to Cele Bus Stop. So, it is confusing and there are no signs to direct motorists,” he said.
He added: “Sometimes, when there is heavy traffic on the expressway, danfo drivers ply the service lane until they get to their destinations either way without being stopped by any law enforcement agent. But when a private vehicle does same, it will be impounded. At other times, the law enforcement agents deliberately allow private vehicles to enter the one-way trap just to extort money from them.”
Ikenna observed that there is no traffic sign on the entire stretch of the road to direct motorists.
“You can investigate that by yourself to confirm. So, they should ensure that there are traffic signs not just on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, but also on other roads across the state. When the signs are there and conspicuously placed, if a motorist fails to notice them and gets caught, he/she would blame nobody.”
“I have not even come across the Mobile Court on the road for once and this is one of the roads in Lagos where danfo drivers display their notoriety. In addition, the law says tricycles and motorcycles should not ply the road but they are everywhere. In fact, commercial motorcyclists constitute serious nuisance at Second Rainbow and Mile 2 Oke. So, where is the Mobile Court,” he queried.
Other residents interviewed by The Guardian stressed the need for the government to expand the capacity of the Mobile Court if it hoped to use it to bring orderliness to Lagos roads.
A resident who lives on the Ojo axis of the state and plies the Mile 2-Badagry expressway, Jacob Ogbese said he had not sighted the Mobile Court in the area since it was inaugurated.
“I only hear about it but I don’t think they have started operating in this axis because I have not seen them for once. But we need the court if it would bring road users on this axis to order. Sometimes, we go through hell on Mile 2-Badagry expressway simply because people don’t obey traffic laws,” he said.
A driver in the Apapa branch of one of the commercial banks in the country, Alex Chukwujama also told The Guardian there is nothing like Mobile Court in the area. “They only made the announcement. I have not come across them in the course of my job, both within Apapa and outside the area,” he said.