Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Lagos State government is set to begin enforcing its new traffic law that criminalised many traffic offences and bar commercial motorcycle operators from operating on 475 routes across the state, THISDAY learnt Thursday.
The enforcement of the traffic law that has generated much controversy in the state, according to sources, will begin any moment from now following the gazetting of the law.
At the signing of the Lagos State Road Traffic Bill into law on August 2 by the Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, had said the law would not be implemented immediately.
The government had said the enforcement of the law would wait until after the gazetting of the law so as to allow a lot of public enlightenment to be carried out while copies are distributed to Lagosians to familiarise them with what constitute traffic offences under the revised law.
THISDAY checks, however, revealed that the government had gazetted the law about two weeks ago and soon, errant motorists and commercial motorcycle operators would be prosecuted for any offence committed.
But the government, which held a stakeholders’ meeting Thursday as part of the public enlightenment programme on the law, dismissed insinuations that the new law was enacted to jail road users or to widen the state’s revenue base.
At the meeting with leaders of the Community Development Associations (CDAs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs), the government dismissed the insinuation as false and anti-progressive.
Mrs. Orelope-Adefilure, who stood in for Fashola, said gazetted copies of the law had been distributed to various arms of government and government parastatals, among others.
Ipaye also justified the enactment of the traffic law, saying the revision was necessary to cope with the ever-increasing population of Lagos metropolis and suburbs, which currently stands at 20 million as against a population of 300,000 the state had in 1949 when the first version of the traffic law was enacted.
He said the new traffic law “is necessary taking cognisance of the emerging challenges that come with the megacity status of Lagos State. A law that was made for about 300,000 in 1949 in any way cannot take care of an astounding population of 20 million”.
According to him, since 1949, the law had been reviewed seven times, adding: “We are just calling it a new law. But there are provisions of the 1949 version that are still in the 2012 law. What is now new is the inclusion of motorcycles and tricycles, which were not used for commercial purposes in 1949.”
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Transportation, Hon. Bisi Yusuf, said the traffic law represented the views, which he said various interests and groups expressed at series of stakeholders’ meeting organised by the legislature before the law was enacted.
The lawmaker, who represented the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, said the law was not imposed on the people because various groups and interests in transport and other sectors were invited to make input into the process.
Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, told THISDAY that the enforcement of the law would have begun before now, but the government delayed it to put a human face to its implementation.
He said: “The enforcement of the law can start any time. In fact, the moment the governor gave assent to the law, it has come into effect. Residents should not be surprised one of these days if they see law enforcement agents arresting those who have violated the law.
“Nobody should think that he can break the law with impunity. We had delayed so far so as to give human face to the implementation of the law.”
Under the law, trailers, with the exemption of fuel tankers and long passenger trucks, are now prohibited from entering into or travelling within the metropolis from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Violators risk impoundment of their vehicles and payment of N50, 000 fine or six months imprisonment.
The law also prohibits eating, counting money, making phone calls and engaging in other dangerous activities while driving. The prescribed penalty for violators is N30, 000 fine.
Other highlights included the ban on operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles on major bridges, Ikorodu Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Lagos-Badagry Expressway and Lekki-Epe Expressway.