The arrest Tuesday of two military personnel who were plying lanes dedicated to the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, is another pointer to the disdain some have for traffic laws, often with devastating consequences.
On the same day, a commercial bus driver running against the traffic killed an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA.
Why do motorists break traffic laws? Many of them enjoy the impunity, especially when they are high-ranking military officers like the colonel Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola reprimanded for abusing the BRT lane.
Colonel K. I. Yusuf drove an official car registered BO1 - 150 NA. He did not expect anyone dared stop him in his military vehicle. Sergeant A. J. Adeomi drove in another vehicle. The sight of "other ranks" abusing the BRT lane is normal. How does one account for a senior military officer joining in violating the law?
Would Yusuf have obeyed if a LASTMA official stopped his vehicle? He was a sight saluting the governor and apologising, "I am sorry, very, very sorry." The poor example of the military officer is surprising after an incident, involving "other ranks" and LASTMA had sparked off a riot on Ikorodu Road two years ago.
Yusuf could not answer the simple question Fashola posed: "Why, as a senior military officer, did you choose to break the law instead of preserving it?" From where do the likes of Yusuf get their example? Their conduct has infected most users of government vehicles, particularly the military. They consider the BRT lane theirs.
On highways, they barely tolerate other road users, who they treat as if they are a hindrance to their journeys. Sometimes attempts to force other vehicles off the road result in accidents.
It is not as if they are acting with any official reasons or on any emergencies. They delight in harnessing the "benefits" of their uniform. As Fashola noted, "The highest levels of the military command have continuously expressed their commitment to supporting democracy and to subjecting themselves and their officers to the laws of the country. Those officers that I caught today are a very bad example for the military.
"I don't use the BRT lane, I sit down in traffic and I expect everyone who wants to drive his car to do the same. The alternative is to use the bus."
The governor of Lagos State sits in traffic but some road users, including commercial bus drivers, who link their ownership to some security officers, wantonly violate the BRT lane. LASTMA looks the other way.
Fashola should in addition start monitoring the performance of LASTMA officials. They encourage impunity by not enforcing the law.