The atmosphere today, November 23,2020, at Alausa, ikeja, Lagos, can only be likened to a state of mourning dead love ones ,as 44 traffic Offenders wearing long faces run helter skelter in a last minute attempts to recover their hitherto cars now exhibited for Auctioning by the Lagos State government. It would be recalled that the said offenders whose cars were impounded recently for driving against traffic in Lagos State, had been arraigned before a mobile court, which found them guilty and ordered the forfeiture of their vehicles to the government.
According to the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit (Taskforce) , their actions were in accordance with the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform of 2018, hence the drivers of auctioned 44 cars, drove against traffic (one-way) in various parts of the state.
The Agency’s Head, Public Affairs Unit, Adebayo Taofiq was quoted during the exercise which held at the Taskforce carpark Alausa, Ikeja that the exercise was not punitive but corrective in nature.
Taofiq said that the traffic offenders had earlier been charged to the Lagos State Mobile Court and the court had forfeited those vehicles to the Lagos State Government.
“The vehicles been auctioned today were apprehended and forfeited to the Lagos State Government for driving against traffic at different locations across the state.
“After the forfeiture, the Law says we embark on auction but before we can embark on auction, we have to get a court order which we applied for and we were given the court order.
“After which, we made a publication informing interested members of the public, particularly owners of these vehicles to come today for the auction exercise,” he said.
Taofiq said that the vehicles been auctioned was purely a law matter and that there was nothing anybody could do about it because it was the law taking it’s course.
He said that it was necessary to sanitise the state of careless and ignorant drivers and motorcycle (Okada) riders who had started misbehaving with impunity as if there was no law in Lagos.
“For instance, take the menace of the okada riders who use their bikes to rob victims across the state.
“Should the government fold their arms and watch as the standard of the state is being reduced to zero.
“Immediately after the EndSars protest, Lagos was locked down by motorist driving against traffic, driving on BRT corridors and causing obstruction on highways, not minding security personnel on the road,” Taofiq said.
He applauded the efforts of the Lagos State Taskforce,in sanitising the state against traffic offenders.
“The Agency created an anti one-way team within the agency and assigned them to different locations across the state.
“This include those monitoring the BRT corridors and those enforcing restricted routes for okada riders which is not an easy task to carry out but we just have to do it.
“The auctioning exercise been carried out is to serve as deterrent to others to desist from going against traffic rules and be orderly when on the road,” the unit head said.
Taofiq, also appreciated the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the support he had been giving the agency and all the enforcement officers across the state.
He reiterated that the enforcement exercise of the Taskforce was not punitive but corrective for the safety of both the driver and the passenger.
“If these laws can be adhered to, then there will not be much causalities at various hospitals because of okada accidents or from collision as a result of vehicles plying one-way.
“Those who drive against traffic usually hit people because when people want to cross the road they will not be expecting a car coming from the opposite direction.
“By the time we follow the law, there will be orderliness and sanity on our highways,” he said.
Taofiq appealed to members of the public particularly motorists and okada riders to desist from contravening the Lagos State Transport Reform Sector of 2018.
“These includes driving against traffic, driving on BRT corridors and causing obstruction on the highway as part of the law because once you are caught, you will be charged to court.
“There is no alternative way to that,” he said.
Taofiq, also advised people to stop inducing traffic officers with money whenever they were arrested saying that “the same law that affects the taker, also affects the giver”.
However, it was a difficult situation for the owners of the forfeited cars . For instance, Ade Abass, a clothier who lives in Surulere, the owner of a 2008 Hyundai Elantra said that the auctioning exercise would only throw more people into depression.
Abass said that since the beginning of the year, things had been difficult as a result of the pandemic because people had been on lockdown and unproductive for a longtime.
“Also the EndSars protest affected my business because my shop on the Lagos Island was broken into by hoodlums.
“These challenges is what made me put up my car for Uber so that the driver can be delivering some money weekly to my family for sustenance.
“We had the agreement three months ago and he has been delivering without hiccups until he was caught driving against traffic around Costain area of the state,” he said.
Abass said that he was the final bidder for his car which he bade for N300,000 but the truth is “I don’t even have the money to pay for it,” he said.
“I was recently given a court order by my landlord to evacuate his house, honestly I just do not know how I am going to make ends meet.
“I appeal to the Lagos State Government to help us out in whatever way he can use his good office to,” he said. The aggrieved owners of forfeited vehicles were present at the auction in an attempt to reclaim their once owned property that was about to be lost.