Penultimate Thursday, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, signed the new Lagos State Traffic Law.
Many Lagosians are excited about the law, because they are of the view that it will help to address the perennial traffic situation that seemingly spares no part of the state.
However, certain portions of the new law may not have gone down well with those in the port industry, especially truck owners, truck drivers, and Customs agents.
Faulting the provision in the law restricting the movement of trucks in the state to between the hours of 9.00pm to 6.00am, they argue that the law will create congestion at the ports, as well as constitute security challenges to cargoes and lives of truck drivers.
Members of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), National Association of Truck Owners (NATO), Coalition of Seaport Truckers (COST) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), who have jointly condemned the law, opine that if it is implemented the nation’s economy will suffer greatly from port congestion.
The truckers are also of the view that if the Lagos State Government must implement the law it must create the enabling environment by providing the necessary security measures that will ensure that both the cargoes and the truck drivers are safe within the given period.
They have equally asked the state government to put the roads within the metropolis in proper shape, so that vehicles do not break down at nights thereby endangering the cargoes and the lives of truck drivers.
While these set of persons are kicking against the new law, the state government on the other hand has been explaining that the new law is one of government’s strategies to manage the growth of Lagos into a mega city.
The state government had equally explained that it is government’s intervention to reduce the alarming statistics of road accidents, especially those caused by reckless driving.
While we commend the efforts of the state government in enacting this law, since it is borne out of genuine desire to give the citizenry better lives, we equally want to say that the fears expressed by the truck owners, truck drivers, Customs agents and other port operators cannot be dismissed offhand.
We recommend that, within the gestation period mapped out by the state government, within which it plans to sensitise the populace about the law before it comes into effect, it should take a second look at the legislation workability of restricting movement of trucks in the state to nigh time, considering the country’s security situation, as well as its road networks.
We recollect that the social malaise of area boys syndrome has its roots in Lagos Island, the financial hub of Nigeria, before spreading to other parts of the state and the nation. For the uninitiated, area boys are grown men (and even women) running all sorts of extortionary schemes, including exacting heavy financial tolls on trucks for transiting, discharging or loading cargoes in their neighbourhood.
The new Lagos State Traffic Law should compel the Federal Government to focus attention in developing the other modes of transportation.
If the other modes for delivering and evacuating huge volumes of ports’ consignments – rail and water – truck operators will have little grounds for protests against the new law, because at present over 90 percent of cargoes from the Lagos ports are moved by road.
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