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Friday, April 23, 2010

LASTMA: At their worst

However hard I try, I just cannot cease to be amazed at man's capacity to be cruel to fellow man. 'Man' is of course here used in the generic sense. I was at Sabo yesterday to check some things at the Corporate Affairs Commission, and I Saw LATSMA's (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) towing truck in the process of towing a 2008 Toyota Corolla vehicle. The reason for the towing? the unfortunate driver had packed the car though in a place that had been designated as a parking zone, but had in the process exceeded the line in which the car was allowed to park!

I quickly thanked God for not having made the same blunder a mere few seconds before. While I agree that LASTMA had done some pretty good work over the time, increasingly, I keep wondering if the Lagos State government has not decided to leave them to just make money that go into their private pockets and not into government coffers.

The hefty fine that the government imposed on traffic offence has in my view done more to enrich individual LASTMA official than to deter die-hard traffic offenders or even serve as part of the revenue-generating ventures of the government. Because of the huge fine, LASTMA officials attempt to arrest vehicles at the slightest infraction even when the vehicle owners should have just been let off with no more than a warning. The attitude of LASTMA officials has sent me wondering what exactly again was the reason why the authority was established; is it for ensuring smooth flow of traffic, or for the purpose of revenue generation?

If the reason is the former, then it seems to me that LASTMA officials have either forgotten that, or most of them are not even aware of the reason in the first place.
If the reason is however the latter, then I have to ask again, revenue generation for who? LASTMA officials, or the Lagos state government? Most of the things I have witnessed in recent times point to the latter.

Back to the towing I witnessed yesterday, I couldn't help but think as I watched the car being towed that since about half of the car was well within the space reserved for parking, then only the latter half which was out of the line marked should have been towed! My authority is based on the judgment of the "Daniel" that came to judgment in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice where Shylock was ordered to take his pounds of flesh without shedding any blood. The Yorubas will also say "IKA TI O BA SE NI OBA N GE" meaning it is the finger that offends that the king cuts off or amputates as the case may be.