Let us Go Beyond Road Repairs in Lagos

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Anthony Kila, a Professor and Director at CIAPS, Lagos believes it is time to change the profile, ethos and conduct of commercial road users in Lagos State

Dear Governor Sanwo-Olu

I write with delight to confirm that we can see that the roads of our Lagos have seen massive and effective repairs following your commitment in the month of October 2019 to repair those very bad roads that your administration inherited.

I have not visited every corner of the state but I am pleased to report that my journeys through random places, like from the International Airport to my office and residence in Ikeja, to the Agege Stadium where my darling Stationary Stores FC play and to my country home in Epe where the roads were really bad and with traffic that made journeys on our roads seem like hell on earth in the recent past have all seen massive improvements. More needs to be done but certainly a lot is being done.

It is always a joy to see an administration that addresses problems with practical, cogent and effective solutions instead of moral emotional or even historical explanations or worse still excuses.

I however have a true but sad news for you Mr Governor: You cannot afford to dwell on this success no matter how much it cost your administration in terms of energy, ideas or finance. People’s needs are many and can be endless while our memory is transient. Very soon people will forget that you repaired those roads, just like we don’t remember to thank God and our doctors for breathing again. To most, what you have done will soon be discarded as restoring status quo ante. Take heart Mr Governor, they are neither ungrateful or wicked, it is just the way things go with consumers and citizens.

Luckily for you however, there are other challenging opportunities for you on our roads.
One of such challenging opportunities lies in the profile, ethos and conduct of our commercial road users, from the trailer and bus drivers, to the bike riders we call okada to the tricycles riders we call Keke Maruwa.
Managing and changing the profile, ethos and conduct of these commercial road users can give your administration a chance to build a lasting legacy and it can be done in the next three years.

At the moment, a cursory and victim’s look at these commercial road users will reveal them to be selfish, mean, reckless, dangerous and a major cause of most traffic and even accidents on our roads. A closer and dispassionate look however will readily reveal that these drivers and riders are more ignorant than evil. Too many of these drivers and riders do not seem to have the barest understanding of the rules of sharing the roads with others.

This lack of knowledge of the rules and ethics of the road is convincingly displayed in where and when drivers and riders stop to pick and drop passengers, their ignorance is even more obvious from the clearly suicidal way they rush to overtake other vehicles and the way they try to squeeze themselves between other vehicles. These road users need to be (re)taught and (re)indoctrinated continuously about using our roads. We need to create a well thought and highly coordinated method and forum to show these road users the rules of using our roads as well as what is expected of them whilst sharing the roads with others.

The method has to be based on moral suasion that shows all that the process of reorientation is for their own good.
Commercial road users come with one added nuisance for other road users: their unions, and those lovely thug-looking local government agents that stop them in the middle of the road for money and with no regard for other road users while they negotiate and pay. I have queried elsewhere if this is not pure extortion.
Just like we do career development and Refresher sessions with managers and other operators, the process of managing and changing the profile, ethos and conduct of these commercial road users can give us a chance of using these unions and local government agents that stop drivers and riders for money for a collective good: they can become the channel for reaching and gathering drivers and riders for retraining and reorientation.

By using their unions and local government agents, it is possible to effectively manage and reorient these drivers and riders with little or even no additional cost to the state government and tax payers.
Mr Governor, the many advantages of having well informed and better-behaved road users are so obvious and self-explanatory that we do not need to neither list nor dwell on them. A point however needs to be made: Curing our roads of the ills of ignorant, badly behaved, accident and traffic causing suicidal drivers and riders will not only make our roads better and safer for all whilst saving us productive time; it will actually help us become a better people. Tolerating or even accommodating such ills on our roads with no clear, conscious and coordinated effort to cure such sore is a blemish on our level of civilisation and an indictment on the quality of our governance. Such blemish is not befitting for a state that strives to be a Centre of Excellence but luckily for all, with the right will we can do the right thing.

QUOTE
Just like we do career development and Refresher sessions with managers and other operators, the process of managing and changing the profile, ethos and conduct of these commercial road users can give us a chance of using these unions and local government agents that stop drivers and riders for money for a collective good: they can become the channel for reaching and gathering drivers and riders for retraining and reorientation.
By using their unions and local government agents, it is possible to effectively manage and reorient these drivers and riders with little or even no additional cost to the state government and tax payers