By David Stephen
SURULERE. Maintenance work commenced a few days ago at third mainland bridge, as directed by a top government official. It is expected to be complete in November, and will see eight expansion joints replaced on both sides of the carriageways of the bridge. This maintenance work was initially scheduled to commence a week ago, but was postponed, possibly to put more things in place. This repair is coming at this crucial time when rain and floods is making motoring difficult.
Concerns of different sorts have been expressed, and press report of floods on alternative routes supports some. The government has pledged to reduce the traffic burden during this period with more control officers on duty, attention to suggested alternative routes and improved traffic monitoring reports to the public. This gives some confidence but complications will definitely come at certain times during the four months period.
Some people have presented arguments about the timing, they could be correct, but maintenance at this time, as said, is coming for the necessity. Traffic in Lagos has been a problem, with construction somewhere or not. Government continues to work to ensure that people enjoy free flowing traffic.
The Lagos government has LASTMA – Lagos State Traffic Management Authority. They also have traffic lights, recently built roads, a traffic FM, and benefitted from removal of traffic-causing-police-road blocks that the IGP prohibited nationally weeks back. Traffic on Apapa-Oshodi expressway, a perfect example of the problem, was tackled in May. Faulty road users there were dealt with, and things improved. The achievement of that gives so much hope for another in future, albeit significant traffic is returning to that route.
Traffic is one big issue in the state, and it robs government credits for development. Traffic stiffens engagements, troubles businesses, aids crime, reduces the quality of air, contributes to climate change, plugs road safety, adds to health risks, causes fatigue and makes time management more difficult. We all know that traffic solution is not mentioned during political campaigns, but the problem leaves the government in a bad light outside, even as people within ‘are used to it’. Traffic requires all round solution, with new ones and improvements to those in use.
Traffic reports through radio and social media are part solutions that should be further advertised and improved. These platforms enable people to get updates on traffic for routes that connect locations. They could help people before setting-out, they could also help people to change their plans or to change their planned form of transportation.
These platforms inform, and could also tell of why traffic is happening at a particular place and time, to quicken attention and action. Good, but they don’t address solutions and may not favour at times if something happens on a recommended free flowing route –- usual in the unpredictable situation — and quick response stalls. Rapid response, proper oversight, regulation and compliance to road directives are best played by LASTMA.
These folks work hard and deserve credit for some improvements that have been seen in the past years in traffic. They, as public officers are included in government ranking of staffers, and face some challenges that many rail about for those in ministry. These guys have their issues, with news stories on disparaging acts of some. Some of them also have issues of being unskilled, for duties; there are issues of keeping up in this low per capita GDP economy and more. Things are not so easy, with a global recession and oil prices dipping, for an economy reliant on oil trade & several issues to table.
Attending to LASTMA better is desired, as some officials rumble for a better status, but may not be so easy. Improved status by the Lagos government to LASTMA is help for all. It is help to themselves, to the federal government, to the people, to LASTMA officials, to investors, to security, to the present and the future.
Having this is beyond donations, or symposiums for a few, or tough talk by top bureaucrats, or comments or abuses (as some believe); but improved welfare, structured training, more equipment, more officials, and complete overhaul of that system. Training them on common situations, improving reporting bottom up within the system and more is necessary if the government really wants to help all.
Prioritizing repairs of alternative routes, putting more traffic lights at points, rapid attention to bottlenecks either road repairs or blockades, developing suggestion channels that road users can submit what they think will help per route, road use instructions, more traffic technologies and seriousness will also reduce traffic in the state.
The center however remains LASTMA, with more officials, they can be spilled to alternative routes and also be available within meters on pikes during heavy traffic hours, to prevent/reduce new traffic origins within a large traffic. More officials can also monitor from within, situations and ensure that response, reports and updates on action are in sync.
More officials will ensure that work shifts are flexible, boosting commitment to duties while at work; more officials will also ensure that they are all available for regular trainings on what-to-do, how-to-do, when-to-say-what, who-to-call, when-to-ignore, when-to-arrest and what-to-observe.
New attention to the situation can be started with a small forum, where presentations will be made, and issues will be submitted. This will involve a number of people and the press. Action will follow after to further understand some things before the next meeting. Things that can be fixed will be fixed, before a major conference on traffic and complete action.
Repairs to third mainland bridge will bring attention to traffic around concerned areas, but traffic will continue as usual at other routes. Government, corporates, high commissions, those that love Nigeria, and individuals should please start something that can lessen this multidimensional torture.