At the launch of the first ever Traffic Radio station in Nigeria , the then Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, pointed out that Lagos Traffic Radio 96.1 fm was conceived to open up new vistas in the management of the traffic in the state.
Today, the Station has become a household name among commuters and motorists, as it provides steady and first hand information on situation of the roads within different axis of the State.
Today, Traffic Radio has become the “oracle” that commuters regularly consult before stepping out. As the station keeps evolving, the baton of leadership changed towards the end of last year allowing for new breath, fresh ideas and innovations. On August 22, 2018, Mr. Eyitayo Akanle became the General Manager of the Station.
One of the critical gaps identified by the new leadership was the Station’s poor online presence. The new media which is an off shoot of technology has greatly assisted the industry to reach wider audience, engage and connect with more people, and birth a multi-platforms window for information dissemination.
The importance of this new way in modern broadcasting informed the re-invigoration of the official social media platforms, thus making them more engaging. This has led to an appreciable increase in organic Likes/Followers within a short period. For instance, in August 2018, the official Facebook page had about 4,000 Followers/Likes. This has, however, increased to over 20,000, a 400% increase.
Also, the redirection of its online radio streaming platforms such as official website and Mobile Application are also steps being taken to make the platforms more robust and engaging. The online traction generated through these deliberate moves give the station a new online pedestal in a competitive radio community, achieving a strong online presence ever since.
In view of the need to expand the scope of the station beyond the provision of traffic updates, the station has commenced the provision of traffic information on other modes of transportation such as waterway movement, Train and Flight schedules including shipping position.
In-spite of successes achieved thus far, the leadership of the station is not resting on its oars. This much is revealed in the editorial of The Nation Newspaper on Wednesday, February 13, 2019: “To its credit, Lagos Traffic Radio has not been lured into complacency by the success it has recorded thus far. Rather, the new management of the station has come up with a new and most commendable initiative to extend its service beyond providing information and guidance to road users. The radio now commenced the dissemination of information on maritime and shipping positions as port schedule as well as airline and train time schedules”
The idea behind this initiative is to expose commuters to the workability of the modes especially on waterways movement of Ferries, create the necessary awareness and ultimately decongest the roads.
In terms of human capacity development, the station’s leadership is working on new strategies to develop and update the competence of its personnel. This informed the decision to hold the maiden management retreat from 6th – 8th December, 2018 with the theme “Reinvigorating the Brand in a competitive market”. It was conceived in view of the need to review and assess the station’s business process.
Significantly, the retreat opened the station to new prospects as it becomes obvious that giving traffic updates every 15 minutes throughout the day is not enough, given the increase in vehicular movement. Hence, the resort to 10 minutes traffic updates at interval.
Coming on the heel of the success of the maiden retreat, another one was organized for the management staff with the theme: “Re-energizing the Workforce for Improved Productivity”.
In order not to allow distractions that may impede the work flow at ensuring the delivery of its core mandate to commuters, the station reviewed its advertisement policy and concluded not to take adverts such as live appearances on Forex trading, online business amongst other.
The Station’s flagship programmes such as ‘Your Side Mirror’’, “Lunch Time Waka’’ and Bonsenloo have continued to grow in leap and bounds. Other programmes are still in the pipeline while traffic education has also been introduced in response to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s recommendation during the 4th Lagos Traffic Lecture Series.
Other new grounds being explored include the introduction of Mobile Courts updates, propagation of the Executive Order of His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and filing of live reports during major incidents on roads among others.
In order to allow access to more traffic information , the station is exploring other sources of information such as sharing of motorists travel experiences, Google Traffic Map, social events travel advisory and a host of others.
The current administration in the State has particularly been quite supportive of the station in diverse ways. One is not really surprised by this, considering Governor Sanwo-Olu’s firm commitment to addressing transportation challenge in the State. But then, the Radio Station would further require assistance from the state government, especially in terms of provision of basic infrastructure such as cameras at key points alongside some traffic flow censoring system to strengthen the integrity and enhance credibility of the service.
As a testimony to its numerous giant strides, the station has won several awards from many credible organizations. For instance, in recognition of its enviable role in traffic management, in May 2019, it won the Best Radio Station award in Promoting Transportation and Logistics in Nigeria during the Transportation and Logistics Excellence Award at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Undoubtedly, Lagos Traffic Radio has justified the argument that effectiveness and power of radio in the present digital age 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.
However, the station needs to make use of more experts in the transport sector as this will increase the reliability and credibility of its messages. 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. Also, more room should be given for road users to air their views on traffic matters.
Expectation is that, if the present level of education on traffic, as being propelled by the Lagos Traffic Radio, as well as investment on the transport sector is sustained, before long, many of the problems that cause traffic snarl in the State would be substantially curtailed and become history.
Musbau is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja