By Zainab Azeez
One-way drive as it is commonly and locally parlanced, is driving against the upcoming vehicle in defiance to direction of traffic flow. This crude impunity is now regularly perpetrated by empty and loaded trucks, commercial buses, taxis, motorcycles also known as okada, security escorts and police duty vans, to mention a few.
Madam Kudirat, a busy trader in Mile 12 market was cut down in her prime when she was knocked down by one of the road demons who clearly drove against the traffic flow around the market.
Recently, at the ever-busy Ijesha axis of the Mile2-Badagry road, several passengers in a one-way driving commercial bus were sent to their early deaths while the bus duelled in a head-on collision with a truck.
One Chika, former Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of a transport company in Mazamaza, was not very lucky as he made the gory list of those hacked down by the speed-happy and one-way- drive killers.
Not too long ago, it took divine intervention and loud screams from the passengers to resuscitate a bus driver to consciousness. He was obviously asleep driving one-way and facing another speeding on-coming bus. But for the timely shout, the rest could have been history.
While I do not want to sound like crying more than the bereaved or a vendor of endless chronicle of bad occurrence, it is a fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be sure of a safe journey on the ‘Bermuda triangle’ of one way drive; a menace owed to unprecedented agony, untimely deaths, senseless and avoidable crashes on daily basis and from time to time.
Another reason while this discourse must come to the fore is the fact that the problem of one-way drive has jinxed and defy several panacea prescribed to it by the pundits. A situation which has conditioned the commuters, motorists, riders and other road users to watch in helplessness, nay, in hopelessness!
Asked while he drives against the traffic, Bangis Ali, confessed that he was never aware of any traffic laws in Nigeria. According to him, “I drive one-way not considering any law. All I know is to get my passengers to their destinations as fast as I can.”
A Police Inspector, Olusegun Osasona, in his views, blamed menace of one-way drive on drug addiction by the culprit drivers and riders who he said, most times, do not drive with clear minds and vision.
He said a good number of the bus drivers are second offenders (gone to prison before). So, they will not care a hoot to be charged for traffic obstruction by driving one-way.
The gridlock that spills from the Apapa Port to other major and feeder roads is no more winning a front page attention on the news tabloids, at least, in the recent times. Lagosians are daily learning to accommodate and bear its consequences. So, motorists and riders in order to beat the traffic, resort into one-way solution- drive against the traffic.
Security vans escorting VIP and police duty vehicles are also enmeshed in the impunity of one-way drive. Several motorists follow the last vehicle on the convoy in a joint affront against the city’s traffic laws.
Organising public procession or parties on major or internal roads without arrangement for traffic flow is another reason driver and riders are forced to drive one way.
Worried by the public nuisance one-way drive is creating on its roads, earlier, the State government in order to bring sanity, enacted traffic laws in 2012. Defaulters of traffic laws will not only have their vehicles confiscated but also risk life imprisonment.
I hold that this should not end as a mere threat but forcefully enforced in times like this, by a combined efforts of law enforcement agents, as it will quickly serve as deterrent to violators. To expedite this, I suggest a mobile court be put into place.
The proposed psychiatry test for motorists and riders to ascertain their mental fitness should be fast tracked.
There should be enlightenment campaigns against harmful practices associated with driving and for proper use of the roads.
More roads and bridges should be built as alternate routes to ease traffic congestions that may force motorist to ply one-way routes and drive on walk ways.
Trucks, long buses should have their separate routes to avoid gridlock
Security escorts and details should be made not to break the laws they enforce on others to obey by driving one-way themselves, even when it is not necessary.
One-way motorists or riders should be compelled to pay a heavy fine to their affected victims. This will evoke caution for other would-be culprits.
It is high time we stopped the menace by moving to the next level and make Lagos roads work again.