Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has appointed a new General Manager for the state owned, 21 years old Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
Hence, Mr. Bolaji Oreagba has successfully taken over the helm of affairs from Engr. Olajide Oduyoye, who had two years ago, replaced Mr. Olawale Maroof Musa, who was appointed Permanent Secretary in the State’s Transportation Ministry.
Mr. Bolaji Oreagba, a Deputy Controller (Traffic), joined the State Public Service on the 8th December 1993 and rose through the ranks over the years to the post of the Director of Operations, LASTMA, before his present appointment as General Manager.
Remarkably, the primary concern of many stakeholders, including Transport Day, is not the frequent change in leadership, but how this will bring the long awaited change in the agency, notorious for harassment and extortion of innocent motorists.
Nonetheless, it will be uncharitable to write off LASTMA as just an agency chiefly populated by extortionists and agberos, because it plays very significant roles in ensuring that road traffic moves in the ever busy and congested Lagos roads.
Any regular road user (motorists and pedestrians) in Lagos cannot but testify that the presence of LASTMA on major roads, has helped in no small measures in reducing traffic gridlock.
We are also not unmindful of the fact that some LASTMA officials have been attacked, and some killed, while performing their legitimate duties on the road.
However, this notable role played by LASTMA, has over the years been badly dented by the growing number of bad eggs within its fold. Day in Day out, we hear of ugly stories concerning LASTMA personnel, who harass and extort motorists on vey flimsy excuses.
Many have complained about how LASTMA officials use very crude methods in their operations like using area boys, insisting on towing vehicles even when such vehicles can just be booked and made to pay the fine subsequently, among others vices.
The number of atrocities committed by LASTMA officials on a daily basis seems endless, as there seems to be little or no check by the management on their men in the field.
Checks by Transport Day show that LASTMA depends mainly on complaints from motorists to act on its erring personnel, without deploying monitoring teams on the roads.
Even when LASTMA personnel are reported to their management, Transport Day gathered that the disciplinary panel that entertains such cases sits only once or twice a year!
Oreagba, being an insider, should know that he will be considered a failure if he does not take the bull by the horns and device mechanisms to check these ugly trends of bribery, corruption, harassment and extortion by his men!