Earlier today, media aide to the Lagos Governor of Lagos, Jubril Gawat posted a tweet announcing the auction of cars to be forfeited by traffic offenders.
The vehicles, whose drivers drove against traffic at numerous times, were declared forfeited by the Lagos State Special Offences Court (Mobile Court). The tweet has sparked a debate on social media, with a lot of people complaining that the punishment is excessive.
Some others have complained that the punishment is appropriate, considering that those who drive against traffic are potential killers. Also, while the usage of the special offences court is commendable, it empowers government to make easy decisions even if it is improper. The gravity of the forfeiture is that vehicle owners lose possession of it permanently.
Even though this punishment is excessive, new cases of drivers driving against traffic are recorded daily in Nigeria and this often comes with fatal consequences. This trend is worthy of being appraised as it is an anomaly that the punishment is not deterring road users from driving against the traffic. This signifies two major problems in the society.
First is that lawlessness is prevalent in the country. Second is that people believe they can always get away with committing offences whether by the complicity of law enforcement agents or by an inadequacy of law enforcement.
To tackle these problems, government needs to ensure that the security architecture is overhauled and that the judicial system is reformed to serve the interests of the common man. Also worthy of examination is the issue of transportation gaps in Lagos State. The ever growing population of the state also means that the state has to expand the transport system and provide alternative means of transportation within its borders.
This transport gaps cause traffic gridlocks almost daily and reduces productivity on individual and communal levels. It is not a valid excuse but it is one of the major contributors to the ‘one way traffic’ culture.
Many of the roads also have no clear sign to show that they are open to only one-way traffic. This gives unscrupulous individuals an opportunity to extort people who contravene the laws.
It is inexcusable for motorists to endanger the lives of innocent people by driving against traffic but until the myriads of issues that dog the Lagos State transportation system and the country as a whole are solved, motorists will continue the culture of impunity, ignoring the fact that they endanger their lives and that of other road users.
Instead of forfeiture, heavy fines can be introduced as penalty for driving against traffic so as to deter people from this and other road traffic offences. Forfeiture will do nothing but further alienate people from the government.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”