When former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, created the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) in the magic year 2000, it was very clear to discerning Lagosians that he was on the right path.
With a mission to develop a culture of regulation, control and management of traffic operations state wide, and to ensure hitch-free traffic flow on Lagos roads; and a vision to reduce deaths, injuries and economic losses through road traffic accidents, conflicts, congestion and delays on the public highways in Lagos state by employing modern traffic management techniques to inject order and control into the road traffic system in the state, it maintains a goal to create atmosphere for a sustainable social and economic growth by ensuring free traffic flow in the state.
Before the advent of LASTMA, the control of road traffic in the state was the exclusive responsibility of the highly under-staffed Traffic division of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Twenty years after, the agency has contributed significantly to the flow of road traffic in Lagos, as traffic jam remains a major challenge in Lagos city.
So many junctions and areas where the men of the NPF could not cover are now being controlled by the LASTMA teams in different parts of the state.
Nonetheless, the number of unscrupulous elements who are now wearing LASTMA uniforms seems to be on the rise, as corruption is now a common word amongst the officers.
Industry watchers had years back observed that a significant number of the Agency’s staff are engaged not based on competence but on political expediency, and these hands are only given crash orientation programmes. The situation seems not to have improved.
It is very common on Lagos roads, to see men of the agency working in collaboration with social miscreants (commonly known as area boys) to harass unsuspecting motorists. Though, we cannot run away from the fact that Lagos harbours a lot of unruly drivers, some corrupt LASTMA officials have compounded the situation.
Because so many roads in Lagos do not have Traffic Signs, some LASTMA officers have capitalized on this to extort money from so many innocent motorists, especially those who unknowingly drive into One-Way roads.
It was not surprising when the former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, made frantic efforts to clean the agency of its rot, however, it seems it is back to business as usual.
It is also very common to see LASTMA officials abandoning their duty posts to chase allege traffic offenders. Then the traffic jam becomes worse!
Though the management of LASTMA seem to be taking some measures to combat corruption which has almost reached endemic level in the system now, more and more and more needs to be done. THE MECHANISM (if any) BY LASTMA TO CHECK ERRING OFFICERS SEEMS VERY WEAK!
Current governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu has a lot to do in order to put LASTMA back on track. He needs to set up an independent body to discreetly observe the operations of this agency. HE WILL BE SHOCKED BY THE FINDINGS!