The Lagos State Government at the weekend said it had designed a policy initiative christened Rapid Intervention Squad, which its aid, would substantially help unlock traffic congestion in all innercity roads and highways in the state.
However, the state government lamented the worsening traffic congestion in Apapa Central Business District and its environs,noting that Apapa’s gridlock was indeed beyond what it could address alone.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Ladi Lawanson unveiled the initiative at a news conference he addressed in Alausa yesterday alongside the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Taiwo Salami and CEO of the State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Israel Ajao, among others.
At the conference, Lawanson explained the imperative of the Rapid Intervention Squad, noting that it was a new traffic control initiative designed to put an end to the intractable traffic congestion the state had been experiencing in the recent time.
According to him, the new traffic control initiative largely requires deployment of motorbike; use of information technologies as well as the training of traffic officers to boost response to any part of the state, where traffic congestion becomes prevalent.
He acknowledged the enormity of the state’s traffic challenges, pointing out that there “are over two million vehicles in the state alone. But the state has only 4,000 traffic officers to control and manage two million vehicles. Truly, the challenges are enormous, but we are coping.
On traffic congestion in other parts of the state, Lawanson pledged to deal ruthlessly with any motorists or individuals caught henceforth attacking officers of the LASTMA in order to prevent what result in the death of a LASTMA officer, Mr. Rotimi Adeyemo in Iyana Ipaja fortnight ago.
The commissioner noted that the killing of 18 LASTMA officers and permanent incapacitation of 24 others IN 2018 would no longer be tolerated, saying the state government would not fold its hand and allow its officers to be killed and dehumanized by the public.
He, therefore, appealed to the motoring public that LASTMA was created and empowered by law to ‘control and manage vehicular traffic flow in the State.
“One is therefore at a loss as to why our officers and men, employed to safeguard members of the public are always attacked by the same members of the public whose interest they are promoting and protecting.
“For instance, we have, this year alone, lost 18 Officers in various accidents while 24 are permanently incapacitated due to hit and run accidents and violent attack. The public should realize that these officers are parents, uncles, sisters, brothers, nieces and indeed children of other people.
“The officer cadre of LASTMA is peopled by highly educated and dedicated men and women who should not be seen as never-do-wells because they control traffic and are in uniform. They are not only well trained but are prepared as leaders who can rise to the very top of the Agency and head same with time.
“In the extant case of Rotimi Adeyemo, who was born in Masifa, Ejigbo in Osun State, on May 11, 1977, he holds both the National Certificate in Education, NCE, and the Bachelor of Science, B. Sc. Degree in Economics. He left behind a 105-year old father, an 88-year old mother, a wife, Eniola and three children, including a set of twins.
“For the avoidance doubts therefore, we would like to reiterate that going forward, we will not tolerate the slightest attack on any of our officers and men. We shall henceforth apply the full weight of the relevant extant law on culprits in this regard.
“While the government will, in the face of these unfortunate incidents approve compensations and death/insurance benefits for our officials slain in the course of performing their responsibilities, we hasten to add that it is not the kind of incentives that we crave.
“We would rather that our officers thrive on their jobs, enjoy enhanced benefit and welfare packages through the institution of enhanced salaries, special insurance packages and the introduction of free and compulsory regular medical checkups alive rather than posthumously.”
He said LASTMA officers were constantly exposed to the elements in the performance of their responsibilities as it was a common sight to see them controlling traffic in the rain, sun, dusty or hazy environment, at times, shorn of the appropriate complementary accoutrements necessary for the prevailing climatic conditions.
On Apapa’s gridlock, Lawanson acknowledged that Apapa’s traffic problem “is very complex. In its real sense, it is not a Lagos problem. Rather, it is a Nigerian problem, which Lagos alone cannot solve.”
He explained the complexity of Apapa’s traffic congestion,which according to him, stemmed from the volume of cargoes that entered the Apapa ports daily, the number of tank farms located in Apapa and the control of federal agencies outside the purview of the state government.
He observed that the Apapa ports alone “are responsible for two-third of cargoes shipped into the country. Aside, At least, 60 tank farms are located in different part of the business district. Most shipping companies in Apapa do not have holding bays for their consignment.”
However, the commissioner noted that the state government “is working the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and federal agencies to resolve Apapa’s traffic congestion. Lagos does not have power to control these federal agencies. But we are collaborating with them to unlock Apapa’s gridlock.”