4 September 2012

Nigeria: NURTW - How to Make Lagos Traffic Law Work

LAGBUS buses

As the Lagos State Government Monday intensified its state-wide campaign for voluntary compliance with its newly-enacted road traffic law, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has said building of comprehensive motor parks would in no small measure assist in the successful enforcement of the law.

President of the union, Mr. Najim Usman Yasin, cited the condition when he visited Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) at the Lagos House, Ikeja, pledging the union's support to ensure that the law is effectively enforced.

During the visit, Yasin asked the governor "to consider the areas of provision of designated comprehensive motor parks to facilitate easy accessibility for commuters and other users in addition to improving the state revenue," which he said, would ensure easy public transportation across all parts of the state.

He added that the quick consideration of the state government would assist in no small measure "towards ensuring orderly transportation as well as effectively alleviate cases of traffic congestion in the affected areas slated for relocations in the provisions of the revised Lagos State Road Traffic Law."

He however pledged the unflinching support of the national and state bodies of the union to the state government, saying members of the bodies would "continue to cooperate with the Fashola administration at all time. Similarly, one cannot help noticing the spate of development that cut across the entire state."

Speaking at the meeting, Fashola said the traffic law was not enacted "to impoverish the union but to ensure that the cooperation between the government and all the unions continue effectively. It is in the best interest of the commercial drivers and the union. It is meant to better our lives.

The governor said the state government had not banned union activities in the motor parks, explaining that what the state government wanted was an organised union that would not be harassing the commercial vehicle operators on the road.

"All these are what we have included in the new traffic law of the state. Ahead of the enforcement of the new traffic law, we have commenced the training of officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and we have erected over 15, 000 traffic signs in the state in order for commercial drivers not to flout the law," he said.

Meanwhile, commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders have dragged the Lagos State Government to court over its new Traffic Law, part of which restricts their operations on major highways across the state.

The Okada riders under the aegis of All Nigerians Autobike Commercial Owners and Workers Association, are seeking an order of court restraining the state government from prohibiting them from operating on the major highways listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II of the new Traffic Law.

In the suit No ID/713M/2012 filed yesterday through their lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, the claimant is also asking the court to restrain the state government from molesting, harassing, arresting, seizing their motorcycles or subjecting them to any treatment not suffered by any other road users.

Joined in the suit alongside state government are the state Attorney-General and state House of Assembly.

The claimants also asked the court to declare that the new Traffic Law constitutes an unjustifiable violation of their rights to freedom of movement and their members guaranteed by section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

They also asked the court to declare that the law constitutes a violation of the defendants' means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment provided for in Section 17(3)(a) of the Constitution.

They asked the court to declare that the major highways listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II of the new Traffic Law in which okada operations are restricted are Federal roads within the meaning of the Federal Highways Act, cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

They also asked the court for a declaration that the defendants have no power whatsoever to make any law to regulate traffic on any of the Federal roads listed in Schedule II to the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, No 4 of 2012 and in the Federal Highways Act, cap F13, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

In addition they sought a declaration that the provisions of that section 3(1) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, No 4 of 2012 to the extent that it prohibits the riding, driving or propelling of a cart, wheel barrow, motorcycle or tricycle on the major highways in Lagos listed in Items 1-11 and other parts of Schedule II is in fundamental conflict with section 4(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and is ultra vires, illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null, void, oppressive, inoperative and of no effect whatsoever.

The claimants further asked the court to order directing the defendants to immediately release all motorcycles belonging to them and their members seized and in the custody of the defendants and their agents or officers.

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