Apparently worried by the return of traffic gridlocks in most parts of the state, governor Akinwunmi Ambode has ordered the sack of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officers found culpable at their designated posts. ADELOVE gatherd at the weekend that Ambode gave the directive following public complaints that LASTMA officials were becoming lax in traffic management.
The officers, it was gathered had practically gone on holiday in protest of their dissatisfaction with government’s plan to enforce traffic rules without impounding vehicles or arrest offenders, which the officers said had only made their job almost impossible.
Ambode, at a meeting with parties concern, said he had personally observed that LASTMA now have a nonchalant attitude to work; they are either not present or noncommittal to ensure free-flow of traffic. Our sources disclosed that the governor at the meeting gave the new LASTMA General Manager, Bashir Braimah, a directive to sack 100 officials that are culpable and others would sit-up.
It would be recalled that Ambode at the beginning of his administration told LASTMA to quit the practice of impounding vehicles, but in its place, seek other means of apprehending offenders to make life easier, simpler and happier for the residents.
The governor, besides ordering the release of over 400 impounded vehicles in LASTMA custody without bail condition, also fired its head, Babatunde Edu, and appointed Braimah to implement the new regime. But since then, traffic gridlock had returned to Lagos metropolis because “the enforcement morale had gone low”, a top officer said at the weekend.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the current administration should take the blame for the traffic situation. He said: “Can the Inspector General of Police tell his officers to stop arresting offenders? Or tell them to be issuing tickets to offenders so as to reduce crime rate? What the governor did not realise is that this is not New York or London where those things are practicable. Here, people obey the rules when they know that they can be sanctioned. Motorists obey traffic rules because they know that LASTMA can collect the vehicle from them,” he argued.
The officer added that since the new directive by the state government, the public had become more hostile and lawless, claiming that the governor has prohibited their arrest no matter the offense.
The new GM, Braimah, upon assumption of office, had tried to implement the ticketing style, where booked offenders were directed to pay penalty within seven days. In a pilot exercise conducted in Ojota, few private motorists did complied, while the commercial bus drivers, in defiance, collected and shred the tickets on the spot.
“I can tell you that some notorious motorists that LASTMA forced out of Lagos are now returning in droves just because their colleagues are telling them that LASTMA cannot arrest them anymore. What it means is that our security is no longer guaranteed. Enforcing the law is at your own risk. So, why won’t LASTMA go on holiday?” a junior officer said yesterday.
Notwithstanding, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Segun Olulade, said the government must continue to appeal to motorists to obey the laws to curb incessant gridlock in the state. In a reaction to the return of traffic gridlock, Olulade did concur that some drivers were becoming lawless and taking advantage of the governor’s directive. But the governor’s statement was not made to make drivers become disobedient to the traffic law, which is still in place.
According to the lawmaker, representing Epe II Constituency, “the governor, in his wisdom, has urged men of LASTMA to stop impounding vehicles because he believes so much in doing things in a civilised manner.