In a sprawling metropolis such as Lagos, an effective and efficient means of Public Transportation, as well as good Highway Infrastructure are indispensable for normal Business Activity, Trade and Commerce, the smooth running of Government, and the likes. It may be likened to the flow of blood through the Veins and Arteries of a Human Being, wherein a mere (Blood) Clot, if left unattended may cause the cessation of life.
It brought great relief when in a Statement emanating from the Office of the Executive Governor of Lagos State in the Second Half of the year 2019, it was disclosed that a little over 100 Roads in Lagos had been slated for emergency Repairs and Rehabilitation, by reputable Contractors. However, in the management of Public Affairs, the Field of Engineering, and indeed all works of man in Human Societies, it is important to ensure that the solution to one problem, does not lead to the creation of another (bigger) challenge.
During the last weekend of the month of January 2020, the Ban on Tri-Cycles (otherwise known as ‘Keke NAPEP’ or “Keke Marwa”) as well as Motor Cycles [also known as “Okada”] as a means of Passenger Transport on many Key Roads in Lagos State, came into effect.
Road repair works are usually associated with increased Traffic Jam, Diversion, partial closure of some Lanes to Traffic, . . . in short discomfort and delay for commuters and other road users. That is the PAIN; but the GAIN(s) come on completion when there is improved riding quality on the Road Pavement, shorter Travel Times, reduced costs on vehicle maintenance, more efficient consumption of fuel, and so on. The “trick” is to find a good balance in the reactions of the Populace, keep them informed of progress and developments, stick to Payment Terms, which were agreed with the Project Contractors (so that Time Over-Runs and Cost Over-Runs) will be minimal, to mention just a few.
Around the location of my office in Victoria Island, the Keke NAPEP and Okada ‘Ban’, has resulted in large crowds of people at Bus – Stops, waiting for long periods for the relatively few Mini Buses (otherwise known as ‘Danfo’). Many people have been “forced” to Trek for long distances, . . . which is a very good physical exercise, anyway! My rapid assessment of the situation in my area is that not much has been done by way of alternative means of Transport to fill the VACUUM created by the Ban (on Keke NAPEP and Okada). It is natural that commuters will be ‘angry’ and may start nursing feelings of resentment towards the Government, its Agents and Servants, including LASTMA Officials, members of the Nigeria Police (Traffic Division), FRSC Officials, and so on.
From the socio-economic perspective, a joint statement released by an Association of Keke and Okada Operators had this caption, which speaks volumes, “Please REGULATE Us; Do Not Take Away Our Means Of Livelihood”! Many commercial Drivers have suddenly been thrown into unemployment. Will, they not be pushed into considering crime as a way of sustaining themselves and keeping Body & Soul together?
Fortunately, we have a listening Governor, in the person of Mr Babajide O. Sanwo-Olu. Policies are not ‘cast – in – stone’, They may be reviewed and fine-tuned so that peace may reign in Lagos and the good initiatives of the Government do not lead to the creation of other bigger challenges. The timing of the Road Repair and Rehabilitation Works is good because it coincides with the end of the Harmattan and the start of the Dry Season.
Heavy tropical rainfall has a way of disrupting smooth and normal construction activity. There are also economies of scale to be derived by the Project Contractors when they are fully mobilized in a particular geographic Location (‘at once’), procure Construction Materials such as Cement, reinforcing steel Rods, Fuel, etc., in Bulk, and so on. There will also be opportunities for short term employment on Road Project Sites for unemployed Lagosians, Technicians, Craftsmen, and so on and so forth.
If crime curtailment was one of the major motives for the ‘BAN’ on Keke and Okada, supposing we have a situation where commercial drivers are issued with Identity Cards, which are renewable every Six Months, and that is also to be authenticated by the Drivers Association, the Local Government / LCDA Representative as well as Traditional Rulers in the area of Operation? This might help us to know “who – is – who” in the Trade and reduce the influx of undesirable elements into the Transport Business. Let us give some thought to this approach. Knowing that one will likely “get caught” is enough to deter at least Half of intending Offenders.
However, on the perspective of the safety and security of the citizens and not even the commuters alone, perhaps the hues and the cries could tantamount to the adage that “the chicken is being protected from untimely death yet, she’s complaining about denial of fun and the delicacies she intends to feast on at the garbage dump sites”. We all know too well that the hawks are out there to unleash terror on the inexperienced and puerile chicken roaming carelessly at the garbage dumpsites.
At this juncture, I will be leaving readers with this question for us all to ruminate; “which comes first, the egg or the chicken?” Without the chicken, no egg can be laid. And without egg, there will be nothing to hatch. No gainsaying of the fact that we all need a large dose of endurance, both the government and the governed.
Long Live The Federal Republic Of Nigeria; May God Continue To Grant Wisdom To Our Leaders.
Engr. Afolabi O. ADEDEJI, FNSE
Ethical Business And Management Associates (‘EBAM’)
Victoria Island, Lagos