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Speaking on the new Lagos traffic law,Governor Tunde Fashola said that it replaces the old traffic law of 1949 which was last amended in 1994.

He said his government was committed to addressing transportation challenges in the state, adding that the law, which took 18 months to prepare, would complement his administration’s efforts at bringing sanity to the roads through the provision of adequate highway signs, traffic lights as well as a traffic radio.

He also explained that the law was a response to the growing challenge of road and traffic management as well as the need to ensure that those who chose the state as their home, are not short-changed by regular traffic offenders.

 

Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said the law would only be operational, after it had been gazetted and circulated to stakeholders in the state.

This, he said, is to enable the state government to undertake an intensive public enlightenment campaign,so as to ensure that motorists do not fall victim of the law, on the excuse of ignorance.

“The law is there dormant, you do not have to fear it. If you obey the law, nobody is going to arrest you or convict you.Again, the issue of going to jail will not arise, and what we are looking for in all honesty, is voluntary compliance,” Ipaye said.

 

Speaking with our correspondent, a Lagos lawyer, Banji Alabi, said the new traffic law in the state was in order and would go a long way in bringing sanity to traffic.

According to him, the signing of the bill into law after exhaustive debates on it, shows that the state government is responding to emerging traffic problems in the state.

“Even in the advanced world, governments there enact and re-enact laws to suite prevailing traffic issues. The traffic law in the state was last amended 20 years ago and if the state decides to amend it this time around, it is within the law.

“I have heard many people say that the state government is driven by revenue drive that would come from law-breakers rather than by the intent of the law. I don’t think this is absolutely right. Law shouldn’t be looked at,on the basis of its facial value. People should comply and avoid anything that would warrant them to pay a fine.’’

 

Another legal practitioner, Bashir Kayode also said there is nothing in the new traffic law that is offensive. “The contents of the new law are what the citizens of the state should voluntarily comply with, as part of their contribution to social contracts. We complained about the nefarious activities of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. The law has now banned its members from our garages. We complained about people’s ill-attitudes on the wheel and the growing threat of commercial motorcycles. The law has also curtailed these excesses and imposed fines.”

Mr. Kayode further assumed that the state government should try as much as possible to train its law enforcement officers periodically on the new law so as not to create hardship for the people.

 

But the Lagos League of Political Parties (LLPP) stated that the new traffic law is revenue-motivated.

Chairman of the league, Chief Udoka Udeogaranya, maintained that the law would not make any difference because it was more of a revenue-generating policy than a traffic control blueprint.

The only difference is that it has more punitive measures and concerns how to rake more money into the state coffers.

“Punitive and high taxation measures,” the coalition declared, “have never seemed to work when the execution organs have traces of weakness, unprofessional and corrupt conducts as have been expressed with impunity by some members of LASTMA.

 

“We strongly hold the view that punitive measures are secondary after government has looked into fundamental issues like over-population as against insufficient infrastructure that give rise to abuse of traffic regulations, and find ways of addressing the challenges, rather than crowd the laws of the state with a law that can lead more to deepening corrupt practices of some LASTMA officials than addressing issues it was promulgated for.”

Yet again, stakeholders in the state’s transport sector, including the state’s chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) have kicked against the law.

 

Specifically, the NURTW said the state government had no right to sack its members from operating in the garages and motor parks as stipulated by the law without proper consultation with the union.

The union has however maintained that its members would continue to operate in the garages and parks as a registered union.

 

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