By Lateef Raji
It is worrisome that a sprawling metropolis of Lagos status, that attained mega city status 10 years back, is still bogged down by such anti social behavior like street trading, illegal creation of bus stops, cart pushing and the intractable menace of Okada riders who defied all existing rules except the ones it made. These activities give Lagos a chaotic look. Sadly, it has been observed that enforcing relevant laws that should curb these anti social behavior is quite tough. The reasons for this range from inadequate human and material resources to opposition from Rights Activists groups. While these limitations are real, my submission is that, Lagos roads and highways are too accessible to all manners of pedestrians. Therefore, it is imperative that government prevents unwanted users from major roads and highways, especially cart pushers, street hawkers/traders and okada riders who create illegal bus stops on every inch of major roads and highways.
It is, however, inspiring to note that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has already seized the initiative by addressing the traffic bottleneck that builds up every morning on the Oworonshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge inward the Islands. This was done through the creation of spacious bus stop shelters on both ends of the highway and erection of strong mesh wires, which were used to secure and prevent easy access to the ever busy and fast highway.
Similar steps were taken some five hundred meters towards Ogudu foreshore. It has been a fantastic respite for both pedestrians and motorists who feel more secured using the multi-million naira pedestrian bridge while motorists drive without the fear of knocking down a hawker or daring pedestrians who brazenly jumped on the highway. When the ongoing bus shelter at Ogudu is completed, more sanity would prevail on the highway. Also, along the newly constructed Mile 12 – Ikorodu road, the Ambode administration has erected wire mesh on some sections along the road. This has helped to reduce traffic considerably. Perhaps, the most impressive is the Mile 12 market end of the road where riotous danfo drivers and cart pushers were effectively cordoned off the highway.
With the success of this laudable initiative, the State Government should go ahead to implement this wire-mesh policy all across major highways in the metropolis. Starting from Ojota Bridge all the way to the Islands, this wire mesh can be erected at the service lane, excluding walkways. The iron steel at Palmgroove and Onipanu is unnecessary because pedestrians have been effectively restricted and guided to use the walkways or the pedestrian bridges. The overhead bridges do not need the wire mesh because accessing them on foot would have been discouraged. However, at Maryland, on the Independent Bridge, where all manners of street hawkers shove drinks, pirated books, pirated CD’s and what have you into your face, the wire mesh will come in handy. If properly meshed, hawkers would not have access to the highway, thereby making the route less chaotic and cleaner.
The same will apply to the unruly commercial bus driver that chooses to stop to pick passengers at every turn. The wire-mesh strategy should be deployed in such a way that commuters would have to walk to designated bus stops before boarding a bus. With this, the attraction for drivers to pick passengers at any spot will disappear. Ultimately, the city will be orderly, neat and more appealing. Undoubtedly, these anti-social behaviors persist because; people have unfettered access to the roads, which should not be.
If loose access to major roads and highways is denied, street trading, violations of traffic regulations by Okada riders who need just the same space as a pedestrian to get on the highway and others such will be prevented. Danfo drivers would equally have no choice but to identify and make use of authorized bus stops. With this, sanity would reign supreme in the city. Perhaps, more important is the fact that lesser resources would be expended on enforcement while the health of the people will be preserved.
Consequently, it is important that Lagosians cooperate with the State Government in ensuring that anti social behaviours that could make the city unruly are largely curtailed. Life is too precious to be enmeshed in boisterous acts that could endanger the human health. Self preservation is, therefore, the responsibility of every human being. We must, therefore, collaborate with government to preserve lives by creating an orderly society. One of the differences between the animal kingdom and human society is that the latter enact laws that are made to regulate human conducts in order to circumvent the making of a state of anarchy.
It is in view of the critical nature of public transportation to the overall effectiveness of other sectors that the State Government has been particularly focusing on the sector to meet the yearnings of the people. The commitment of the State Government to improving the transportation sector in Lagos is very defining because it affects the prices of goods and services, improves quality infrastructure, defines how easily the children can get to school and, indeed, the productivity of the entire economy.
Addressing the transportation and traffic challenges of a complex metropolis like Lagos has been a major priority of the Lagos State government. Initiatives such as Lagos Traffic Radio, BRT, modern taxi cabs, improved ferry services, light rails, LASTMA, Lagos Traffic Law, roads redeveloping and modernization, among others, therefore, represent a positive indicator of laudable attempts to improve the face of public transportation in the State.
I, therefore, encourage Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his team to forge ahead on the several creative and well meaning initiatives that are geared towards sanitizing the highways and enhancing public transportation in the State.
*Alhaji Lateef Raji, a public affairs’ analyst, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.