Lastma: Arrest One, Free The Other

By Samuel Ogunnaike
Photo Credit: Premium Times
Photo Credit: Premium Times

For the sake of those who do not reside in Lagos, and may not be aware of the existence of LASTMA, a concise conceptualisation is imperative. LASTMA is an acronym for Lagos State Transport Management Authority. As a body, it was birthed over two decades ago, to regulate traffic, among other principal functions. Traffic, in Lagos, has always been a teething concern. In fact, it is no exaggeration that all Lagos State government's efforts to practically deal with this monstrous giant that delays commuters on the road have not seriously yielded any satisfactory result. For some, it is a fate of a state, while the others feel Lagos traffic could still be conquered.

No doubt, LASTMA, if withdrawn from our roads, there would be double tragedy for the road users. However, what infuriates one about this gallant body is their system of justice and fairness on the road. Arguably, it seems an average LASTMA officer believes they have been empowered to deal ruthlessly with erring traffic offenders as long as such is not a soldier, a police officer, a colleague, a politician, a friend, a relative or a supposed benefactor or anyone with reputation capital. When you find a team of LASTMA officers enforcing an arrest, then, the violator definitely is not one of the above. If two commit the same offence, and one enjoys a waver, with the other being made to face the music, how just are we? How sane are we? How patriotic are we? How professional are we? How righteous are we?

Another growing concern is their "Rambo - like enforcement method". As a child, Rambo, a movie hero, was famous for daring and shocking warring techniques. Swooping on a traffic violator with a total neglect for the safety of the passengers is yet unexplainable. Frankly, some will zealously, but shockingly, entangle an erring motorist as though a fugitive or a terrorist had been sighted. It amazes anyone how a regulatory body could sometimes be pugilist in its approach to enforce an arrest. Disdainfully, they feel proud they are the latest in town. I ask, ' Is LASTMA trying to carve out another name for itself. Something like, " the iron force, or " the tiger" or you name it. I have not stopped asking myself if turning back a driver on the wrong lane, wouldn't get the same result as competing with such over the steering. For example, instead of impounding or requesting a bribe from a traffic offender, why not simply instruct him to make a U - turn. After all, the goal, among others, is to ensure that vehicles ply the right road. A car driver , as a further illustration, who may not have fastened their seat belt, could just be ordered to do that and be delayed for about 30 minutes or so. Though, discretion should be applied. Let energy be channeled on other social and infrastructural matters, than, wearing a glorious crown for using a " helicopter " to pull a car", instead of a towing vehicle.

The one driving is your brother, your sister, and your countryman. We are for each other , and not enemies of one another. As a body, LASTMA, was set up for us, and not against us. Please, manage traffic with love and empathy. God bless LASTMA!

Samuel Ogunnaike, Lagos.