The Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr Chris Olakpe, on Monday told motorists to resist any attempt by traffic officers to extort money from them.
Olakpe restated the charge while speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the endless gridlock in Lagos.
He said the advice became necessary, due to persistent complaints of extortion by motorists that LASTMA officials on highways were feeding fat on them.
Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub has been in traffic lock-down in recent months, made worse by indiscipline among motorists and an apparent low governance in the state.
Olakpe warned that giving money to traffic control officers was a crime, noting however, that motorists should obey traffic managers and desist from giving them bribe.
“Traffic managers are there to make life easy for the public and not to make life difficult for them.
“Any motorist with sincere proof of extortion by traffic managers should report to the appropriate authority, rather than resorting to attacking and harassing officers on duty.
“Such attacks on a traffic officer will cause more hardship for the motoring public,’’ he said.
The LASTMA boss disclosed that three LASTMA officers alongside four police officers had been arrested for extorting money from motorists in the last week of last month.
He said that 16 other LASTMA officers were currently facing disciplinary actions, noting that if the officers were found guilty, they would face either dismissal or demotion.
Olakpe pleaded with motorists to show understanding with the ongoing rehabilitation of many roads in Lagos, which he described as a major cause of the gridlock.
He said that LASTMA and its sister agencies, including the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the police had deployed more operatives on the roads.
The LASTMA chief reassured that the traffic managers were capable of handling the traffic jam in the state, especially around Iganmu, Costain Roundabout, Apapa and other traffic-prone areas.
Speaking on the gridlock, some motorists lamented the inability of the Lagos State Government to solve the problem over the months.
They said that the development had ruined businesses and caused untold hardships to Lagos residents from year to year.
A commercial motorist, Toyin Hassan, told NAN that traffic managers along ljora Seven-up and the Apapa axis had aggravated the traffic jam because of extortion.
“Some of the officers add to the gridlock, due to their extortions because any motorist that refuses to give them money will be engaged in unnecessary argument, which affects flow of traffic,’’ said Hassan.
A tanker driver, who simply identified himself as Abubakar, lamented the hardship caused by the traffic managers, saying that Lagos residents had never had it this bad.
“Instead of controlling traffic, the traffic managers engage in breaking side mirrors or windscreens,’’ Abubakar said.
But a LASTMA officer, who pleaded for anonymity because he is not authorised to speak on the issue, said that Lagos motorists were hard to control on the roads.
The officer lamented that Lagos motorists, including soldiers and other service men were in the habit of disobeying traffic rules on Lagos roads.