With a vehicular density of 224 vehicles per kilometre, driving through Lagos traffic can be very exhausting and time consuming. In a typical Lagos, It is not unusual to spend hours on the road and this is often characterised by street hawkers selling all manner of goods except.
An individual observed this and opened a twitter account he named “@gidi_traffic’’. Kaptin Idoko, the tweeter who manages this handle revealed that he set up the account to “ease stress” in the traffic-clogged city.
As helpful as this may have been, it is yet to totally satisfy the yearnings of the teeming Lagos population for up-to-date traffic reports. The down side of the idea however is the fact that not everyone has access to internet-enabled devices which provides the platform for tweeting. The pepper-selling woman who often travels the road may not have the penchant for browsing even if she finds the device affordable.
But come to radio transmission, almost everybody from the suya-selling mallam to the pepper-hawking women have access to radio devices. As a matter of fact, low-cost phones now come with radio FM including the so-called ‘china’ ones.
Lagos, the country’s commercial nerve-centre is so densely populated that one may be safe to say the city is over-crowded. If there were measures to decongest Lagos, I would top the list of those in support of the move.
Traffic, fondly called ‘hold up’, or ‘go slow’ impedes vehicular movement in Lagos which is why many road users often lament, attributing the causes to bad roads, indiscriminate parking by the roadside, incessant breakdown of vehicles, accidents among others.
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola has often been showered encomiums following his exemplary leadership and ability to accommodate new ideas. It came as no surprise when the Governor launched the Traffic 69.1 FM radio – the first of its kind in Africa.
The Governor while making his speech during the launch said the Lagos traffic radio will help commuters make informed decisions as to the route to follow – saving them time, energy and fuel in the process.
Since its launch, the call-in programme on the radio station has been consistently besieged by feedbacks and updates from LASTMA monitors and road users alike.
This three-year-old idea could not have come at a better time than now especially with the on-going repair works leading to the closure of the third mainland bridge and consequently the introduction of alternative routes and diversions. However, following the closure, many have bemoaned the untold hardships they experience; such as the unusual queue at BRT bus terminals, hike in fares for regular buses and also boat fares.
It is believed that with the establishment of Traffic 96.1FM radio, one is able to stay abreast of traffic reports and avoid imminent traffic by taking alternative routes which should save one stress and avoidable delays.
One can perceive some sense of direction in the steps taken to combat traffic in Lagos especially as there are specially trained LASTMA officials apart from the “regular” ones who nab traffic offenders, monitor and help ease traffic flow.
Referred to as LASTMA monitors, these specially trained men regularly monitor traffic situations across the metropolis, pass the information around to their colleagues in other areas before reverting to the host on Traffic FM.
However, my grouse with the operations of LASTMA officials is not unconnected with the possibility of biased reports.
Call this initiative citizens’ traffic parliament and aggregated information base, you will not be wrong. Road users are often heard reporting traffic offenses on the airwaves.
There was a case of a Colonel who drove through the Marina – CMS BRT lane and was consequently confronted by the Governor of Lagos State. Knowing the implications of his action, the high-ranking personnel humbly stepped out of his car saluting and apologizing profusely. In a statement made by the Governor, Fashola said “I don’t use the BRT lane, I sit down in traffic and I expect everyone who wants to drive his car to do the same. The alternative is to use the bus.
“The passengers in the bus have the right also to use the road and we cannot encroach on that lane which we have reserved for them. This is democratisation of the road and I will defend it.”
In a similar vein, there was the reported case of a LAWMA truck that broke down on the BRT lane, obstructing traffic between Anthony and Obanikoro on Ikorodu road.
A LASTMA official swung into action, sent reports to the Traffic FM and on-coming road users understood why they were held in traffic.
Following the closure of the bridge, many park their cars to travel by sea or rail. For those living in areas like Ikorodu the viable but expensive alternative is sea travel.
It is hoped that the number of cars on the road will reduce as soon as more persons get familiar with alternative means of transport .
Government must as a matter of urgency take a close look at the alternative means of transport, purchasing new boats and buses and encouraging private investors to invest in the transport sector of the economy.
Written By Tolulope Sina-Olulana