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By David Stephen.
Courtesy: REUTERS – Akintunde Akinleye
  Traffic is a common issue for cities; it delays engagements, can be damaging to your health, and is tied to several other challenges -– depending on how developed a city is. Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria, is known for terrible road traffic during rush hour and other unexpected times. The situation is common across several routes, with pollution in the air and howling discomfort for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The popular opinion to road traffic solution in Lagos includes, expanding and repairing the roads, and improving water and rail transports. The government has succeeded in improving roads but the other methods of transportation are yet to be a full success. The Traffic situation seems to still be serious in the state. Some people say the amount of cars on the roads is to blame while others call on the poor infrastructure to curb traffic is to blame. “Park your cars and use public transportation” –- the line that government uses to compel people, in efforts to address the volume problem. This makes some sense, and gets a few people to do so, but really the line can be taken back to the government. Can you compare comfort, privacy and security of your own car to the rush, standees, queues, stops, bus-parks and even sometimes disgruntled drivers? Terrible road etiquettes from drivers and pedestrians is one of the main causes of the traffic in Lagos. The new traffic laws seem to cut down on some of those bad manners that impact the state. The traffic laws need to be taken serious by the traffic officials but the small space ratio to the multitude of cars on the road makes it more difficult sometimes. Government has the responsibility to ease traffic and, to position things appropriately to have their orders align well with majority. Towards further steps, using all options to table, the government came up with a new law on traffic, which the Governor ratified on August 2, stirring a debate. The law addresses bad traffic manners more directly and more specifically. Such laws are required towards traffic reduction. The law addresses commercial motorcyclists operation and commercial bus drivers; it addresses vehicle users and gave a time frame for certain trailers known to induce traffic especially during rush hour. These laws are necessary. It got reviews in comments, write-ups and interviews, and some have said it’s premature for deployment. It is also without an adequate plan that doesn’t show how it will be implemented. These reactions may push back its coming to effect, as many of the offences in the law, are still being committed without charge. The law would have been perfect in a situation where the officers in charge of implementation are fully efficient. The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) is the main solution to traffic in Lagos. And this new law, meeting a restructured LASTMA, would have been ideal. An idea for the reduction of traffic would be to create a platform on the web and mobile phones where people can send their comments, suggestions and problems that they believe can benefit the traffic situations. By using this platform, people can put their names and area location so that the right authorities in charge of that section of the state can see to the issues or implement the suggestions that make sense. Although these laws will be very effective, there is one part of the problem that needs a solution for these laws to work. The structure of the government especially the implementation coming from the office of LASTMA. The government will need more officials who are trained with the knowledge of their job specifics and so forth. These basic trainings may require months and after then would the laws be able to attain its right effect. Paying the officials at the appropriate time and also having benefits like health allowance and the likes will give them the motivation to work harder. Welfare gaps are reasons for corruption and it increases the traffic situation when people are randomly stopped on the streets and harassed. Since the government will majorly depend on LASTMA to enforce the laws, it will be unsustainable to leave LASTMA in this shape going on. The new traffic laws have come, and the government should be appreciated for doing something at least. The law will reduce traffic in many ways, just like the removal of police checkpoints did in recent times. The Lagos State Government will need some new steps, to burnish its new traffic law, to really show that it is part of the solution.    

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This article was first published on 14th August 2012 and updated on August 30th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

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