The Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) has returned with very heavy sanctions for defaulting motorists.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who sad that transportation and road rehabilitation was central to his agenda, has restored security backups and towing vans for traffic law enforcement operations.
The new governor also signed the traffic-related Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Agency amended bill into law, and psyched up the officers with a 100 per cent increase of monthly hazard allowance.
The increase is said not to be on salary but hazard allowance, wherein junior officers earn N5,000, and senior officers earn N10,000 monthly, will now double by July.
Previously, traffic offenders face sanctions ranging from N5,000 fine to N50,000, jail terms and forfeiture of vehicles — However, the new administration has introduced a severe penalty of N200,000 for a one-way offence.
Traffic offences that didn’t have any monetary penalties now attract fines of between N20,000 to N90,000.
For example, offences like failure to use seat belt, unclosed doors or standing on the doorway while in motion, will henceforth attract a fine of N20,000 each.
Offences such as parking on the highway, obstructing traffic, picking or dropping passengers on illegal bus-stop wi now carry a N50,000 fine.
Reversing on the highway, driving on kerbs and parking on walkways now attract N50,000 penalty while driving on BRT designated lanes attract fine to the tune of N70,000.
Motorists who drop passengers on laybys will pay up to N90,000 fine. And for every night a seized vehicle spends in the custody of LASTMA, a N1,000 fine is paid.
These severe penalties are part of the initiative of the LASTMA hierarchy, “to ensure that apprehended violators do not easily get out of the offence, unlike before. The law says we should impound a vehicle that drives against traffic, which is the most common traffic offence these days.
“But giving them a fine of N50,000 is like a slap on the wrist. But with N200,000 fine or risk of impounding and being shown on camera during the mobile court trial, they will think twice. The essence is deterrence,” The Guardian quoted a top official as saying yesterday.
According to The Guardian observed that the option before a one-way offender, among others, is to appear in court or appeal for out-of-court settlement and submission to fine.
The “lesser evil” of fine requires the one-way violator to sign an undertaken, pleading guilty to other lesser traffic offences, but not one-way. The violator would later realise that the penalty for the lesser offences all summed to about N200,000.
The mobile court option is not any better. It goes with a court bond of between N100,000 to N150,000 initial fine payable by a violator who is still on trial. With the bond paid, the offender’s vehicle is released but must keep appearing in court until the case is closed.
A court last week ordered two offenders to forfeit vehicles to the Lagos State government for driving against traffic in Opebi area of the state. A motorist, Afeez Akinleye, said what the new administration has done is to make “one-way offence the most lucrative and the joy of LASTMA officers.
“At every instance now, they are looking out for related one-way offences, including on roads that are not known or clearly marked for such. I agree that no sane person should drive against traffic, but the guiltiest are the law enforcement officers themselves and commercial transporters and motorcyclists, whom they will not arrest.
“Go to places like Mushin, Isolo, Jakande, and Ikotun, one-way traffic is the norm for commercial operators. Yet, LASTMA will leave them and come into residential communities and be making arrests in commando style, claiming one-way offences. Before you know it, they have towed your vehicle away and charged you to court. The governor must look into this exploitation and grand extortion before it is too late,” Akinleye said.