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Opinions of Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Columnist: Kayode Ojewaleis

LASTMA and the motoring public

“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws”

– Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005), American journalist.

Public officials are seen as a yardstick in society to measure sanity and standards of any work. So, nothing short of excellence is expected from them in discharging their professional duties. Most times, people see those who work in public places as infallible with high expectations in the discharge of their duties. While it is not out of place to harbour such thoughts, it must be noted that there is no system or setting established by man that is perfect.

The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority job comes with regular exposure to provocations and test of patience because these qualities form an integral part of the work while on the field. LASTMA officers, on a daily basis, are tested by different categories of people on the wheel – the good (patient and law-abiding), the bad (impatient and reckless) and the ugly (lawless and recalcitrant).The officers fail when they are found dealing with members of the public in uncivil ways; they pass when they relate with road users and even traffic offenders in civil ways.

While these traffic personnel are human and prone to errors, their mistakes should be minimal and as such extreme care must be taken by these road traffic personnel. However, it is not to rule out an important need for civility in the discharge of their duties. In every organisational setting, there are always the bad eggs who usually drag the organisation’s name and reputation into the mud. There have been complaints about some officers who misbehave when on duty and also partial or selective in their arrests of traffic offenders.

While LASTMA officials are trained to control and manage traffic on the road, they also learn how to relate with the public in polite manners no matter how provoked or overwhelmed they are. However, the reality is that they are humans and may sometimes be faulted as nature has it. A simple ‘greeting’ or even exchange of pleasantries with traffic managers on duty may go a long way to encourage them and spur them to do more.

Respect, they say, is reciprocal and as such it is expected in any human relationship. First approach speaks volumes of how good or bad the interaction will be. Saying discouraging words or making derogatory remarks at traffic officers when working, certainly, will lower their morale. If any LASTMA officer is, for example, found wanting in the discharge of their duties, such an officer could be cautioned politely or a formal report can also be made. Not engaging in verbal confrontation with the officer or assaulting the personnel. It is also important to state that when committed and dedicated officers do great jobs, they should be commended.

Not too long ago, callers who phoned in during a live programme, LASTMA CONNECT, on Traffic Radio 96.1 FM, openly showered praises on some officers and condemned others for not being diligent in their work. The General Manager of LASTMA, Jide Oduyoye, who was live on the show, while responding to contributions and complaints from one of the callers who lamented the reckless and lawless behaviours of yellow commercial buses said, “LASTMA officers are to be responsible at all times, they are supposed to deal with traffic situations at all times. They should know that the idea of keeping free flow of traffic is based on the little things that we do. The yellow buses cannot come and overrule us in Lagos. They dare to do a business and they cannot say because of their own business, they will come and disturb everyone else who is not in their business.” He further added that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said we are coming to a stage where normalcy and sanity will soon return to this town as public transport facilities (water, rail and BRT transport systems) are being improved.

Traffic controllers will need high level of cooperation and support from the motoring public in order to ensure sanity and free flow of traffic on Lagos roads. Road users should make LASTMA public-friendly by reporting excesses of officials and forwarding suggestion or advice on ways of keeping traffic moving in Lagos. This way, all road users can unquestionably trust the operations and judgments of hardworking traffic managers when on duty. For those officers who aren’t doing enough in their jobs, the time to buckle up is now in order to earn a deserving support from the motoring public. The task of keeping Lagos traffic moving should not be left only in the hands of traffic managers but also in the hands of all road users.

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