SIR: Ensuring free and unhindered flow of traffic on Lagos roads is a collective responsibility of all motorists and road users. However, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials are mandated to enforce traffic laws and manage traffic situations. In carrying out their duties as traffic managers on the roads, LASTMA officers are daily exposed to the risks and hazards that accompany the job.
Many cases of deaths of LASTMA officers and others who were rendered incapacitated in their lines of duty abound. In May this year, a LASTMA officer, Kehinde Sonaike, was knocked off the Third Mainland Bridge and into the lagoon by an over-speeding reckless driver. The hit-and-run driver sped off. Sonaike was assisting a motorist whose car broke down when he was hit. He was eventually rescued by fishermen and divers who promptly swung into action to save his life. Thank goodness Sonaike lives to tell the story.
In March, at Ikorodu, Seriki Adeyinka, a female LASTMA officer, was hit by a taxi driver who sped off while she fell and hung on to the bonnet of the car on the highway. The heartless driver was eventually overtaken, intercepted and stopped by an eyewitness who drove behind before he was apprehended. Seriki escaped being carelessly killed by the wicked taxi driver who violated traffic law and attempted to evade arrest.
Sometime this year, it was reported that a tricycle rider allegedly assaulted a LASTMA officer, Ayodele Omotosho, at Aguda B/Stop, Ogba. The accused was later charged to a Magistrate Court for the alleged offence. A similar case was also reported in January, at Ajayi Farm area of Ikeja. The LASTMA officer by the name, A. Oladimeji was hit by a tricycle operator driving against traffic.
Statistics in 2018 alone revealed that 18 LASTMA officers were killed and 24 others injured and maimed. These officers have fallen victims of accidents, violent attacks by motorists and some trigger-happy security agents. The Lagos traffic managers appear to be endangered when on the road, especially with the recent happenings.
In May, a female LASTMA officer, Folashade Arogundade, was crushed by a truck at Apapa. She was hit while overseeing the evacuation of articulated vehicles from the road. It was also reported some months ago, that one Damilare Adeshina was pushed off a truck when he attempted to apprehend the driver who drove against traffic at Agip/Odejobi area of Agege.
In November, LASTMA lost two of its men to violent attacks from heartless members of the public. Ola Oyeshina was stoned to death at Iganmu-Sifax axis of Apapa, while Amos Adebisi was also knocked down by a hit-and-run driver at Idiroko area of Ikorodu road. Adebisi later died due to deep bruises he sustained on his face and arms as he couldn’t survive it. Records revealed that these sad occurrences have lately increased and the state government isn’t folding its arms in silence. Stern warnings have been doled out to members of the public as stiffer penalties await violent traffic offenders who attack authorized traffic officers on duty.
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LASTMA, which is few months shy of 20 years of its establishment, might not have totally eradicated traffic congestion due to the growing population of the state, but it has lived up to expectation in easing traffic gridlock at certain areas with bottlenecks and high vehicular influx. The argument by some Lagosians that LASTMA officers only extort and collect bribes on the roads, and that they have not made any significant impact in easing traffic congestion in Lagos does not hold water because non-signalised junctions are usually manned by these officers.
In reality and except for the bad eggs among LASTMA officials, it is only the unruly, reckless and lawless drivers in Lagos who will always have confrontational encounters and issues with the yellow and maroon color uniformed officers who in turn make them face the wrath of the law.
Kayode Ojewale firstname.lastname@example.org
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