Securing daily transportation and road use

Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Lagos Community Manager

Early last year, there was a robbery incident which received wide coverage because the altercation led to the death of the victim, a 27-year-old rising medical doctor. Lagos, the sixth largest city in the world, with a population of over 17 million people, registers over 200,000 vehicles annually and reports 224 vehicles per kilometer, as against 15 vehicles per kilometer in other parts of Nigeria. With this and millions of road users, this story is just one of many security challenges of daily transportation in Lagos. Incidents include snatched purses, stolen cars, gunpoint robberies, and the harassment of public transport users. The incidents take place at all hours of the day.

In response to the safety challenges on the streets of Lagos emanating from robberies, road traffic conditions, road safety violations, and the use of commercial motorcycles (okada) to perpetuate robberies, the city created the Lagos State Security Trust Fund through public-private partnerships in 2007. The Trust was established to combat violent crimes in the city. This is accomplished by augmenting the efforts of the national police with additional security agencies such as the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and the acquisition and deployment of security equipment and human, material and financial resources for effective functioning of all federal, state, local and other security agencies.

While crime is difficult to eradicate completely, the city's approach to reducing its incidence and securing the safety of Lagos' commuters has been working. Over the last few years, the approach has been to station security personnel (police and LASTMA officials) on motorways, busy bus-stops and stations. This creates a law enforcement presence to deter crime, safeguard pedestrians and motorists, and provide quick response to emergency situations. Furthermore, okadas (commercial motorcycles used as vehicles for hire) have been banned from motorways. The ban is partly due to a recent study that revealed that out of 30 armed robbery incidents recorded in Lagos between July and September 2012, 22 involved okadas. Changes are being seen and more are expected soon due to the ban.

In addition to these efforts, an awareness campaign with security tips ranging from transport to personal security is being aired on local radio stations, cautioning commuters to be security-conscious, take cognizance of their environments, and report suspicious activities to the nearest law enforcement official or call the designated 11-digit phone line. These jingles come in different languages (Yoruba, Broken English (Pidgin), and English) to cover a wide range of Lagos' residents. In addition to the 11-digit phone lines, the city created short-code emergency lines 767 and 112 through which emergency situations, including crime and suspicious activities, can be reported.

The effects of these activities are hard to quantify as there are limited updates on crime figures, but one thing is sure: residents go about their daily business feeling a little safer than before. Commuters leaving work at night are comforted by the thought of security personnel stationed on their route. Nonetheless, more effort could be put into analyzing the effect so as to highlight areas that need further securing and programs that can be fine-tuned for better effect. Also, the issue of continuous improvement on security personnel capacity and efficiency, especially the national police, becomes vital. However, this can only begin at the national level, and serves as one of the many cases for advocating for a state police, which currently does not exist. Close.

Photo: UNAMID

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