The Lagos State transport ministry on Wednesday revealed plans to deploy Traffic Management Solution (TMS) devices that will, among other things, enable traffic law violators to pay fines digitally.

Presently, traffic offenders in Lagos settle fines using cash, which allows corrupt government officials to easily extort drivers. The TMS is expected to reduce the need for human interaction in handling traffic violations.

In a press briefing attended by TechCabal, the state’s commissioner for transportation, Frederic Oladeinde, explained that the TMS device will support the management of all traffic-related issues to enhance transparency.

“Lagos is the smallest state in Nigeria by land area but is home to the highest number of people in the country, which means there’s a lot of vehicles moving on few roads and causes traffic issues,” Oladeinde said. 

“However, about 50% of the problems are caused by the bad behaviour of drivers. We have to deploy unique traffic solutions tools like the TMS to curb excesses on roads. It is not a new device but the way we’re using it is novel,” he added.

What does the TMS do?

The TMS device looks like a point of sale (POS) machine and will be carried by personnel of relevant regulatory authorities overseeing transportation in the state: the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO).

With the device, enforcement officials can capture traffic law violations in real-time as they occur. Officials will not be in harm’s way and will not  obstruct easy flow of traffic. 

VIO officers will also be able to carry out vehicle roadworthiness checks in a fast and accurate manner. In addition, the TMS will enable anonymous eyewitness reports of traffic incidents and will help reduce the unprofessional conduct of traffic enforcement officers, such as the demand for bribes.

Once a traffic offense has been detected, the device will be used by the officers to capture the details of the vehicle. Data captured on the devices will go to a central control room and then an electronic receipt will be issued to the vehicle owner for settlement of fines, which is to be paid directly to the ministry.

LASTMA officers with the TMS device.

Olajide Oduyoye, the LASTMA General Manager who was also present at the briefing added that an offender, after being issued a receipt, has two options. “You can either challenge the accusation at the Magistrate Court or pay the fine. If you fail to do any of these, we have the right to impound your vehicle whether on the road or parked.”

The transport commissioner was quick to point out that the innovation is not geared towards improving revenue generation but to enhance transparency in the process of managing instances of traffic law violations in Lagos. “We’re out to make sure that when people pay a fine, it goes to the government,” Oladeinde said. 

Before now, the Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Service launched a similar initiative called PayVIS. It is a number plate detection platform that uses cameras located beside traffic lights to capture vehicle offenders when they violate laws and then bills them.

The commissioner explained that the PayVIS initiative involves fixed cameras while the TMS devices can be moved around. “We’ll have both fixed and mobile cameras,” Oladeinde said. The government plans to roll out 100 TMS devices initially, after which 1,000 will be deployed. 

A challenge to the initiatives, however, is that Lagos is filled with many unregistered vehicles, while some cars are with either covered or fake number plates, which will make it difficult to locate some offenders, even with the digital devices.

Why this matters

The management of traffic has proven to be an overwhelming challenge for successive administrations in Lagos due to poor road quality and network, overpopulation, and a lack of transport alternatives. 

Car traffic congestion in Lagos is widely regarded to rank highly among the worst in the world. Roads are jammed with private vehicles, the popular yellow and black Danfo buses, tricycles (known as Keke Maruwa), and motorcycle taxis (Okadas). When road congestion is at its worst, cars and bikes often sneak into the opposite lane, which is a violation of the state’s traffic laws

LASTMA was created in 2000 to address these challenges and VIO (a federal government agency) to inspect and determine vehicles fit to be on the road. The former essentially directs road users while enforcing traffic laws and chasing those who break rules.

However, bribery is common and continues to be a major problem. LASTMA officials have the authority to impound cars, which makes drivers often bargain with them over a fee, a time-consuming process that worsens road congestion. 

With the new TMS devices, in addition to previous initiatives, the Lagos State government hopes to address some of the multifaceted problems that plague transportation in Nigeria’s commercial capital.

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Michael Ajifowoke | Author

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