…As Governor interacts with LASTMA officials at relaunch of Special Traffic Mayors
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Tuesday attended the induction of new Special Traffic Mayors and interactive session with Lagos State Traffic Management Authority personnel, stressing that the primary responsibility of the operatives of the agency is to keep traffic moving.
The Governor who spoke at the Blueroof Hall, LTV Complex, Agidingbi before a gathering of professionals and respectable members of the society who constitute the volunteers as Special Traffic Mayors and LASTMA officials added that the priority is not about arresting those who violate traffic laws but to keep the traffic moving.
He emphasized that if any LASTMA official realizes that in the process of arresting a traffic offender, there is every likelihood of creating more traffic bottleneck such a traffic offender should be let go.
He reminded that if traffic is kept moving, the quality of life of the average citizen would improve as less hours would be spent in traffic and more money saved by the motorists and commuters on the roads.
Noting that it was impossible for him and other senior government officials to be everywhere, Governor Fashola said every LASTMA official on the road should help generate much needed information on the state of the roads, especially those in need of repairs by regularly sending reports that would assist the government in ensuring that such roads are quickly repaired.
He explained that the Lagos State Government has boosted its capacity for such repairs by not only establishing an agency for road rehabilitation, it has also commenced the putting in place of an asphalt plant in Ikorodu and Badagry in addition to the one in Ojodu.
He explained that the relaunch of the Special Traffic Mayor is about the genuine desire of the State Government to get a volunteer Corps to provide solution to an everyday problem by assisting in keeping traffic moving at all times.
The Governor, who also spoke against the backdrop of reported incidents of fatal auto accidents in some parts of the state, stressed that it is pertinent for people to realize that vehicles don’t drive themselves and do not cause accidents but are propelled by people who drive them.
On concerns raised by some people about increased human and vehicular movements in the past few days, the Governor reminded the gathering that it is already the middle of November and several contracts for rice supplies, turkeys, groundnut oil and hampers have been awarded for the Christmas period which have to be executed.
He also explained that the State Government is currently constructing over 200 inner city roads round the state, some of which are in various stages of completion and have resulted in some forms of traffic bottlenecks as well at this period.
He said the underlining factor is that the people must realize that the road is a resource that everyone is always trying to make use of at the same time urging people to consider the possibility that the task necessitating a trip on the road could be carried out through phone calls or text messages.
The State Governor gave a commitment that the State would continue to expend its resources on training of LASTMA staffers as it has done in the past, adding that the operatives have just concluded an intensive training programme to position them for better service.
He said the new trainees would upon graduation be moved to the public service employment scheme that comes with pensions, adding that they can indeed enjoy a clear career in law enforcement cadre in the State public service
He described the reported case of an operative of LASTMA who was caught on tape by a member of the public, soliciting for inducement as that of a bad egg that does not represent the true face of LASTMA, adding that a manhunt is on for the runaway official who would be made to face the law for his act.
The State helmsman stated that the implementation of the Road Traffic Law in the State has brought successes noting that the 646 accidents recorded by August 2012 had dipped to 111 by August this year.
He added that deaths on commercial motorcycles which stood at 15 monthly has reduced to one per month while between the period of August to October this year, no death was recorded on okadas in the state.
While noting that the safer roads has encouraged leisure activities like cycling, the Governor also warned those who have formed the habit of skating on highways to desist from doing so as henceforth such people would now be arrested and prosecuted because the act forms an infraction of the State Traffic Law.
He said young people who are interested in skating should go to stadiums and amusement parks to exhibit their skills and not on the major highways.
Governor Fashola also reiterated his appeal to all residents of the State to ensure that they come forward and register with the State Residents Registration Agency which is about the resolve of the government to plan for better services provision utilizing the number of people resident in Lagos.
He reiterated that by the beginning of December, some residents of the State who intend to enjoy some essential services may be compelled to provide their residents registration numbers before they can enjoy same.
Responding to questions by members of the public during the interactive session, Governor Fashola said the primary responsibility of Government in the Transport sector was to provide the infrastructure that would enable private individuals to run the sector efficiently pointing out that all over the world, governments have not been efficient in running the industry.
“The truth is that in the area of public transportation, government has not been efficient in the operator capacity. In running buses, in running ferries, government has not been efficient, not only in Nigeria but in other parts of the world”, the Governor said.
According to him, “The efficiency of government has always been in provision of infrastructure, ferry terminals, jetties, and roads and so on which is what we are doing in Lagos. We are shifting our efficiency where we have comparative advantage. Bus and ferry operators cannot afford that”.
Citing the attempts by former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to run a ferry service during his time, the Governor recalled that ferries that were provided by Alhaji Jakande were all misused adding, “We recovered five of them in the lagoon and we are refitting them now for use. But if those boats were to belong to a private company, I am sure they would not have been abandoned in the lagoon”.
On the position of the Government concerning road development in FESTAC Town, Governor Fashola explained that the State Government was having an issue with its Federal counterpart pointing out that the taxes and land charges being collected by the Federal Housing Authority were being sent to Abuja.
“I have said that the Federal Housing Authority is an anathema to the current Constitution. The Federal Government does not own land so I don’t see how it can have a Housing Authority. But it was created during the Military and now that we are in a civilian dispensation, as I made a case on Saturday when we were in Sokoto, this is one of the laws that the National Assembly should simply amend or repeal to bring them in conformity with the current dispensation”, he said.
The Governor, however, said in spite of the situation, the State Government’s impact could still be felt in Amuwo Odofin, Okota and Ago Palace Way adding, “These are all roads that lead into FESTAC Town.
Noting that FESTAC Town would also feel Government’s impact in the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as the project was being pursued vigorously so that the highway would be finished in time to enable residents have smooth rides from their homes to their offices and businesses and so that their children could go to school and back, the Governor noted that the inner city roads would mean nothing to the people if after taking off smoothly from their houses and on the highways they could not get to work.
Responding to a question on the apparent delay in the completion of roads in Ayobo, Ipaja and Aiyetoro, Governor Fashola explained, “There is nothing wrong with them. These are logistic problems. The same contractor has worked on roads in Alimosho and has done a good job. All your roundabouts around Ipaja, around Alimosho, it is the same contractor that we used”.
“But this time we are going into much more sensitive areas where you have NNPC pipelines. Now about contractor not being at site, construction method has changed. Contractors no longer come to the site to mix concrete and all that. They now work off site and later bring the materials in for fixing”, he further explained.
Appealing to residents of the area to bear with the Government, Governor Fashola recalled the pipeline explosion in Alimosho in 2009 as a result of a caterpillar causing rupture in an NNPC pipeline which resulted in loss of some lives, adding, “That loss of life was an extreme lesson for us. But now they do not excavate because you don’t know how deep the NNPC pipe was laid. We cannot build a road at the expense of other people’s lives. But the contracts are there, the equipment is there”.
The Governor urged residents to report bad roads to the Public Works Corporation pointing out that the State now has asphalt factory where bitumen is produced. He said I is the responsibility of citizen and LASTMA to draw attention iof the Public Works Corporation to any bad roads where they stay to enable repairs to be effected.
Hinting of a parking policy being put together by the State Government, Governor Fashola, who said it has taken his administration about three years to put the policy together, assured that when it is introduced, all the problems associated with parking anywhere in the State would be solved.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Transport, Hon Kayode Opeifa said the relaunch is about reinvigorating the Special Traffic Mayor to assist LASTMA officials in moving traffic and also giving a feedback to the State Government on happenings on the road.
He added that the Special Traffic Mayors would still perform the same function as regular LASTMA officials but cannot issue fines tickets or arrest offending motorists.
The chairman of the STF coordinators, Chief Segun Badejo gave a commitment of the readiness of all the coordinators to continue as they have done in the past five years since the scheme was first established to keep traffic moving in Lagos at all times.
Awards of excellence were also presented to five of the STF coordinators in various zones for distinguishing themselves in service and included Chief Segun Badejo, Captain Ogunleye Adedayo, Chief P.K Shat, Mrs Omolara Vaughan and Mrs Elizabeth Omidele while the Governor also decorated the new Special Mayors including the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Ranti Adebule and some members of the State Executive Council.