Fashola Flags Off First Lagos Traffic Management Conference
…Says gridlock is not an excuse for inefficiency or lateness
Mar 2, 2010 - Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Tuesday flagged off the first Lagos Traffic Management Conference with an assertion that the State does not see gridlocks as an excuse for inefficiency or lateness, but an indicator of prosperity and an abundant life which can be properly managed.
Governor Fashola made the assertion at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island venue of the conference which also featured a Children Assembly by School Children of the School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
He added that government sees gridlocks as challenges of the time that requires the government as city and state managers to bring to bear its skills and tax payers money to implement mitigation strategies.
The Governor explained that part of the mitigation strategies are the building of new roads, widening of existing ones, building bridges and flyovers, opening up the waterways for ferry services, designing and implementing a light rail service to provide an integrated and multi modal transport system using the state’s natural human and financial resources.
Said he: “We understand that it is only when goods and services move efficiently that prosperity will come through profitable companies, robust balance sheets, generous dividend payouts, a vibrant Stock Exchange and capital market translating to an abundant life that promises a brighter and rewarding future”.
The Lagos State helmsman added that traffic congestion is not a disease in a population of 18 million people but a sign of a prosperous economy that must be managed not to inhibit growth.
In his words; “when we see congestion, we understand that it represents police patrol vans moving around to secure all of us, we understand that it represents delivery trucks for fuel, food drinks, water livestock, imported goods and so much more on which we depend for our daily survival”.
“The traffic on our roads also includes the garbage trucks that move the waste we generate daily. The buses that move millions of our people in search of a daily living and our children to school in search of knowledge and skills”, he added.
He asserted that the state sees transportation as the cornerstone of modern civilization adding that the state is convening the first traffic management conference to share expertise, best practices and experiences in the area of traffic management, control and enforcement, transportation planning, road safety and incident management and transportation planning.
Governor Fashola explained that for over four decades, traffic congestion in Lagos State has tasked the creativity and imagination of successive governments both at the level of Lagos as a State and as a federal capital.
He added that over the years, successive administrations have come up with policies and programmes aimed at addressing the various traffic challenges but lack of continuity, centralization of power and control at the federal level especially during the military era compounded the problem.
He reiterated that policies have been usually short lived in a way that prevented it from being properly evaluated, modified and reformed to meet new challenges, adding that if former civilian Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande had been allowed to conclude his second term in office, he would have successfully introduced light rail in Lagos.
He described the establishment of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority in year 2000 during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a master stroke of public policy development which transformed the traffic landscape within the metropolis.
The Governor added that LASTMA in the last ten years has become the unique brand of Lagos for traffic management, restoring order, managing traffic flow, moving broken down vehicles and reducing anxiety of commuters in rush hour traffic.
“The administration has also commenced the pilot scheme of the Safe City Project which entails the deployment of CCTV cameras across the metropolis to assist not only in security management of black spots but also to aid traffic management and emergency traffic rescue operations”, Governor Fashola said.
He emphasized that to encourage private sector participation in water transportation; the State has dredged the various identified waterways and is providing navigation aids such as buoys and information of water depth across the State in order to create the enabling environment for water transportation to thrive.
Governor Fashola who also responded to different questions posed by school pupils who convened a Children Assembly that was anchored by the founder of the FATE Foundation, Mr Fola Adeola promised that the state is putting measures in place to have a bus washing plant which would wash about a hundred buses at a go as a means of ensuring that BRT and LAGBUS buses are always clean and tidy.
He explained that in terms of alternative means of transportation, seven rail routes have been identified for Lagos with the 37 kilometer Blue line which would run from Lagos to Okokomaiko ready for flagging off.
In terms of water transportation, Governor Fashola told the pupils that about 105 water routes have been identified in the state and part of the task of the administration is to make it navigable and put navigational aids on the waters for safe transportation, adding that two major ferry operators have been concessioned to operate on the waterways.
On the measures to curb the menace of okada riders in the State, Governor Fashola said the okadas are in business because people still largely patronize them, adding that as the BRT scheme improves many more residents of Lagos will switch from okada to BRT.
While providing answers on efforts to check to ascertain the road worthy status of vehicles on the road, Commissioner for Transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo said the quality of vehicles being used for public transportation is improving, adding that it could however still be better.
He informed that the government is also working on a pilot scheme where private sector can be involved towards ensuring a strengthening of the issuance process of the road worthiness certificates.
Special Adviser on Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa while commenting on efforts to curb the excesses of okada riders said Lagos will heavily fund different advocacy programmes as well as provision of road signs on okada operations statewide
While responding to one of the questions on the usage of crash helmets by okada riders in Lagos, the Chief Corp Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Osita Chidoka said Lagos State is one of the best examples of the usage of crash helmets nationwide, moving from 0 to 94 percent within a number of years.
He said efforts are in top gear to incorporate road safety into the curriculum of schools from the federal level very soon as a means of inculcating road safety awareness into the consciousness of the children.
On congestion being experienced on the Lekki-Epe ExpressWay, the Managing Director of the Lekki Concession Company, Mr Opio Oforiokuma apologised for the traffic congestion on the road, adding that LCC has just introduced a new diversion which will also speed up work on the road.
In his keynote address, former Minister of Transportation in Isreal, Dr Hirsh Moshe who spoke on “Unlocking the grid; keep Lagos Moving with Pride” said part of the measures which could be adopted to keep Lagos moving is to provide vehicles with increased capacity and ring roads.
He also advocated relocation of bus stops and parks from major highways where they will not impede traffic as well as the adoption of modern traffic control signal centres that will give detailed information on traffic impact assessment.
The event drew participation from distinguished personalities like members of the State Executive Council, first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first Military Governor, Rtd Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, former Minister of Works, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Business mogul, Chief Molade Okoya Thomas, school pupils and members of the organized private sector.