Like in most mega cities, road traffic is a common feature of public transportation in the city of Lagos. A major reason for gridlock on Lagos roads is the geography of the State. The city’s major business institutions sit on the Island, with only limited access while a breakdown on this route, affects some other routes. This gridlock is often caused by different factors such as accidents, impatient drivers, potholes and non-adherence to traffic rules by road users.
Evidences abound that Lagos State government have been doing so much over the years to at least manage the traffic congestion in the metropolis through provision of road infrastructures, creation of public awareness and establishment of a traffic radio which helps in giving people traffic updates among several efforts.
It is an undisputable fact that radio is a very useful tool in dissemination of information and education and it is widely known as an agent of change and transformation. This is generally so because radio cuts across literacy barriers. This explains why Lagos Traffic Radio (96.1FM) was established as a means of educating road users. The radio station has since become popular among commuters and motorists who largely depend on its firsthand information to aid easy movement.
The station forms an invaluable avenue for the education of the populace on best traffic and road use practices and also forms a feedback system for data and correspondence between the government and the populace thus helping to achieve best results in traffic management and control in the State.
Some of the popular programmes on the station include: “Your Side Mirror”, “Issues Behind the Traffic”, “Sanitation Edge”, “Return Trip” and “Traffic News” in English and Yoruba Languages. These are programmes with varied philosophy and purposes that have gone a long way in contributing positively to traffic sector in the State.
Until the birth of Lagos Traffic Radio, nothing, not even years of living here adequately ever prepares motorists for a complete standstill in the middle of the roads. In the past, people could doze off and wake up 30 minutes later seeing exact billboard they are looking at before dozing off still staring back at them with no clue as to the cause of the gridlock.
Ordinarily, it could have been worse if not for variety of strategies and approaches that have been deployed by successive administrations in the state to deal with the perennial gridlock. These include the issuance of ‘Odd’ and ‘Even’ numbers in the early 1980s which allowed motorists ply certain routes within specified periods. The success of this approach may not have been visible and adequate for the Lagos of today. Establishment of agencies such as LASTMA, LAGBUS and LAMATA among others is geared toward ensuring free flow of traffic, road safety and social-economic development.
Today, Lagos Traffic Radio is optimally responding to the challenges of traffic management in the state by effectively communicating traffic information to the people. With radio, commuters and motorists are empowered with needed information on the situation of the roads within the different axis of Lagos at any point in time and don’t have to doze off and wake up minutes later again where there exist alternative routes. The radio is station is predominantly to report Lagos Traffic, but because of the power of technology it has been able to reach even the core areas of the metropolis including Agilete, Ogere and even up to the fringes of Ibadan.
Though Lagos has huge concentration of media houses, Traffic Radio 96.1 FM has proven to be a well-thought out problem solving innovation and a critical enablers of democracy. It has continued to create platforms for citizens to participate in, and contribute to traffic management. It teaches Mass Communication students practical citizen journalism as motorists, commuters, passers-by, LASTMA officials call-in from time to time to file-in their report and at the same time respond to questions from the station’s anchors on duty. In other words, while officials of LASTMA could be referred to as chief correspondents, it makes all interested Lagosians news correspondents.
Importantly, Traffic Radio has justified the argument that effectiveness and power of radio in the present digital age or ever can never diminished. Although it might be difficult to completely eliminate road congestion in a burgeoning mega city like Lagos, initiatives such as Traffic Radio and others could greatly help in mitigating its effect.
It will interest the discerning that since the advent of the traffic radio station, it has continually assisted the law enforcement agencies in educating the citizenry on laws relating to roadways. As it is, only chronic cynics will not agree that Lagos Traffic Radio has contributed substantially to mitigation of traffic snarl in the state or crash fatalities and fatalities related to speed. Moreover, it makes traffic management agencies more active and alive to their duties in consciousness of avoiding any action that will indict them.
It is however imperative to note that traffic station requires more of the use of experts in transport sector. The use of experts will increase the reliability and credibility of the radio messages, thereby making the message more acceptable. The experts can also provide concrete solution to some traffic issues.
There should also be more programs aired in indigenous languages which includes pidgin and Yoruba Language. This should be done for road users who find it difficult to grasp information aired in English language. The Lagos Traffic Radio should give more room for road users to air their views on areas with high rate of traffic, and how traffic issues can be solved. This could be through more call-in programs.
Traffic messages should be aired more frequently through the use of jingles, dramas and announcements that will be of necessity to road users because it is an issue that can only be solved if there is a proper follow-up.
Expectation is that, if the present level of education on traffic and investment on the transport sector is sustained, in the next few years, many of the problems that cause traffic snarl would be substantially curtailed and become history.
Lawal is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja