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Whereas Lagos State and any other state of the federation deserves the best compliance to traffic regulations, the new administration under the new Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, should try as much as possible to align with provisions of existing traffic laws and regulations before his swearing on May 29, 2019.
This has become very important based on announced arbitrary increases in almost all traffic offence contrary to extant provisions and without even reviewing the laws statutorily.
For instance, the Lagos State Traffic Laws, passed by the State House of Assembly in 2012, was designed to protect law abiding road users, while violators face the consequences of their actions. The sanctions range from N5,000 fine to N50,000, jail terms and forfeiture of vehicles.
However, latest development in the sector showed that majority of fines for traffic offences have been jerked up by mere words of month of the Governor.
Currently, Lagos car owners have been made to understand that the new regime has introduced a severe penalty of N200,000 for one-way offence, which by all traffic law, remains invalid and runs contrary to every known provision including the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) code.
All the violations that erstwhile had no monetary penalties now attract fines of between N20,000 to N90,000 without any recourse to amendment of relevant sections of traffic laws of the state.
Besides, another critical legal issue in the whole changes coming with the new Traffic Executive Order is that there is no difference between offenders arrested on federal roads and state roads as the state traffic agency; LASTMA operates contrary to the statutory functions of the FRSC.
Other punishments that are clearly in violation of FRSC codes in Lagos State include offences like failure to use seat belt, unclosed doors or standing on the doorway while in motion, all attract N20,000 each instead of N2,000 as it is on the FRSC code.
Parking on the highway, obstruction of traffic, picking or dropping passengers on illegal bus-stop attract N50,000 fine instead of N2,000 as it is in FRSC code.
Besides, making a reverse on the highway, driving on kerbs and parking on walkways now attract N50,000 penalty. Driving on BRT designated lanes is N70,000, while dropping passengers on laybys is slammed at N90,000 fine. And for every night a seized vehicle spends in the custody of LASTMA, a N1,000 fine is paid.
The question now is whether LASTMA is right to arrest traffic offender on federal road in the state when it remains the statutory function of the FRSC in the first instance. Besides, will it be legally sound for LASTMA to arrest traffic offenders on federal roads in Lagos State and rely on state traffic offence regulation to punish the victim.
In all honesty, whereas Lagos deserves the best traffic management system and offences management, both should be done within the ambit of the law.
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