Features Write-Ups

BETWEEN SANWO-OLU AND TRAFFIC OFFENDERS

Rasak Musbau

Structural functionalism is a macro-level orientation, concerned with broad patterns that shape society as a whole. It is a perspective in sociology that view society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote peace, stability and development.  Functionalists assert that our lives are guided by social structures, which are relatively stable patterns of social behavior.

Most times, it is difficult to conceive how Nigerians expect the political leadership to miraculously solve national problems when obviously individuals, families, communities and religious organizations that constitute the State are not prepared to change their attitudes for desirable progress.

Nowadays, our youths are predisposed to corruption from elementary level of their education, by parents and schools that aid and abet all kinds of cheating for their wards to succeed in examinations.  Yet, when the effects begin to manifest, blame is shifted elsewhere and not to culpable parents and crooked elements that do examination runs.

A recurring trait in our country is to always blame the government for virtually every problem, without carefully scrutinizing relationships between our conducts and the problems. Even when we do, we still proceed to do wrong things with the excuse that every other person is doing it. Inexplicably, much has not been done by our sociologists and experts with orientation in the study of structural functionalism to contribute to addressing this mentality.

There is no denying the truth that like education and other sectors, the task of solving the problem of traffic management/ transportation lies with both the government and the people. Traffic management and transportation, no doubt, requires the totality of structures that form our society to team up to overhaul. Transportation network serves as the backbone of economic security and competitiveness, as well as quality of life. It facilitates the movement of people and goods and links communities to each other and the world. It is the foundation of developed nations’ economy.

 In Lagos State, the first item on the development agenda of the Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration is Traffic Management and Transportation. There is no denying the truth that Lagos economy is not being optimally exploited because of its compounded transport system, leading to congestion and gridlock which, on many occasions, have far reaching consequences on economic and social activities in the state.

Lagos has got a good number of heavy traffic flashpoints caused by several factors. One of which is human. In the state, it is not uncommon to see illegally parked vehicles on either side of the road. Many drive in Lagos without recourse to driving rules while, committing several infractions that pose great threats to other road users in the process.

To demonstrate his preparedness to change the traffic narratives in the state, the first statutory duty performed by the governor was the signing of Executive Order on indiscriminate refuse dumping, traffic management and Public works. The Executive Order which extend the working hours of operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) to 11:00 pm on two shifts. This has also been followed up with motivation of traffic officers through doubling of their allowance. Also, serious attention is being given to deplorable portions of roads in the state.

Unfortunately, many motorists in the state have long taken liberty of civil approach to traffic management for license to reverse progress made in the not too distant past. So, while the focus of the state is on implementing its strategies for reducing travelling time within the state and solve myriad of other transportation problems, some are hell bent on sticking to disorderliness.

One incident that amply reinforces this was the recent assault on officers of the LASTMA by some staff of Seven-Up Bottling Company. A truck (MUS 75 XX) belonging to the company was illegally parked on the road, thereby causing needless traffic gridlock at the former Toll Gate end of  the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. In a state where it is very difficult to feign ignorance of traffic rules, it is disheartening that some Seven-Up staffs could still resort to assault of government officials employed to maintain sanity on the roads.

There was another instance of a motorist who after being sanctioned for flouting traffic regulation, rushed to social media to misinform the public with a post, titled, “Recovery of fund spent on Lagos State Election-My experience”. The ugly experience as explained was that central system at VIS Office was used to track him for driving with expired documents. He failed to establish that he didn’t commit any offence but baffled at the use of technology to detect his infraction. But then, what he called newly introduced system has always been in use prior to the coming of Sanwo-Olu administration, which is barely a month old. These are no isolated cases. Every day, motorists especially danfo drivers still use reverse drive to cover long distance. Bus drivers and conductors still take sachet alcohols while on duty, contrary to the regulations. In some cases, passengers encourage commercial bus drivers to break traffic rules.

It is imperative to clarify that contrary to insinuations making the rounds on the use of camera devise to detect traffic offences, there are 282 of such technology installed in many major roads within the metropolis and not just at Alausa, Ikeja area. Without a doubt, technology will help solve the various complications associated with driving on Lagos roads. We are gradually getting closer to a stage where you traffic offenders would be easily accosted in any part of state.

The argument here is that no amount of resources expended on the provision of road infrastructure can automatically put an end to all thorny traffic issues in the state, without corresponding adherence to regulation or change in attitude of the citizens. It is also an open secret that certain undesirable elements willfully destroy road infrastructures.

No serious society will tolerate nuisance common on our roads. Though traffic was not the only problem Sanwo-Olu has chosen to tackle, traffic management remains crucial for any government in the state. This is why the current administration is focusing on completion of major on-going road projects and renovation of bad roads across the state. But then, to complement government’s efforts, the citizenry must play their roles.

Musbau is of Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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