Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola
Since Thursday August 2 when Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola signed the new traffic bill in Lagos into law, there have been complaints and uproar in some quarters over the new law. Complaints by motorists over some aspects of the law considered draconian. And uproar from transport workers particularly officials of NURTW who are kicking against the aspect of the law barring them from operating at motor parks and garages. There are monetary fines or jail terms for those who run foul of the new laws. For instance smoking or eating while driving or disobeying traffic control attract N20,000 fine for each of the offence. Anyone caught engaging in one-way driving risks three-year jail term after psychiatric examination.
What is really driving the new law? What is Governor Fashola out to achieve with the new law? Is it to bring the chaotic traffic situation in Lagos under control or a money-spinning venture? The aspect of the law that really rankles me is that deals with eating while driving. For the life of me, what constitutes eating? Does it include eating groundnuts, biscuits, gala or chewing gums as some of us are wont to do as we drive? Are we all on the road to jail if we can’t pay the N20,000 fine? There is a need for massive public enlightenment on the law. All the contents of the new law and what constitutes an offence must all be placed in the public domain so we are not caught unawares. I hope the LASTMA men that would apply the laws on the roads are educated enough, for instance, to discern eating groundnuts from eating food?
Meanwhile, in order to properly equip us all so we don’t run foul of the ubiquitous one-way that spring up in Lagos every now and then, one colleague of mine has done a good job to catalogue the one-way roads in Lagos. Please see below and help yourself so you don’t go to jail.
Trying to be my brother’s keeper, I would like to share with you some roads in Lagos that can take you directly to jail as from Friday. Since a new Shopping Mall accommodating Shoprite was launched in Alausa, Ikeja, the road that passes directly behind it is now a one-way street. Policemen have been feeding fat on people who had used that road for ages and are unaware of this new development. As the bill has become law, heading in the wrong direction on the road will send you to jail for three years. To new motorists or those visiting Lagos, Somolu is filled with booby-traps that can send you to jail. One-way streets there are numerous. But the ones that quickly come to mind include Oyebajo Street. If you’re coming from Morocco Road, going to Ikorodu Road, Oyebajo Street is to the right. With no visible signs, this street is a one-way ticket to jail. Again, when coming from Ikorodu Road, heading to Igbobi College, there is another one-way traffic street by Fadeyi Bus Stop via Kalejaiye Street. It is the right turn before the National Orthopaedic hospital. LASTMA guys will usually not stay at the entry point to warn you, but in the middle to apprehend you. You will regain your freedom in three years! Then the popular bridge linking Dopemu to Egbeda is one-way traffic at a designated time of each day. From 5 am to 11.59 am you can cross from Dopemu side to the Egbeda side without any trouble. But if you are delayed and cannot cross to Egbeda side before noon, make a quick U-turn. If you still go ahead and cross to the other side, LASTMA and the police will be waiting for you with a Black Maria. Kiss your freedom goodbye.
On the Yaba/Akoka axis, there are a few booby-traps, apart from the clear one-way traffic roads with concrete medians. The one that leaps to mind now is the major road from University Junction that leads directly to UNILAG Gate. This road is 95 percent two-way traffic. But there is a five percent one-way traffic, where you have to detour inside the community and burst out a little further down the road. There is an old, faded ‘No Entry’ sign, to warn motorists, but many first timers miss it. They are joking with three years jail term. The service lane at Oshodi coming from Mile Two is presumably two-way traffic up to a little after NAFDAC. The road forks into two, the right links CAPPA/Mushin, while the left links Oshodi Oke. Motorists who want to drop passengers at Oshodi, but are too law-abiding to do it on the expressway, usually enter the service lane, drop their passengers, drive past NAFDAC and at the fork, bear left to link Oshodi Oke, onward to Oworonsoki or Maryland, as the case maybe. But any day some LASTMA officials are broke, they usually stay on top of Oshodi-Oke bridge and monitor those climbing the bridge at the fork. They then pounce on them, accusing them of one-way traffic violation. If you are unlucky to pass that route on one of such days, you will be writing a prison memoir soon, or you offer to pay for the school fees of the children of the ‘hardworking’ LASTMA guys who apprehend you. Which would it be?
Then, from the past few months, motorists coming from Toll Gate by 7-Up, and attempting to link Oregun can no longer drive straight into Ikosi Road by Union Bank. Entry has been barred even though there is no single sign to that effect yet. In lieu of that, there are traffic cones placed there to guide motorists. In all fairness, there are sometimes some honest LASTMA guys at the intersection to guide confused motorists how they can access Ikosi via Lever Brothers. But often times, on duty are the crooked ones who see an opportunity to make money. When a LAWMA truck or other government vehicles exempted from traffic laws blow these cones away, motorists coming afterwards inadvertently drive into Ikosi at the intersection and are slammed by LASTMA and gun-toting policemen. You are in serious trouble. There are many more, I’m sure. If there are some roads you know that are not included, be your brothers’ keeper and share. Wish you a jail-free motoring.