UNTIL the coming on board of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration, many cities in Anambra State do not have any touch of traffic regulations through traffic lights. The traffic facility was only known to road users outside the state, hence, making little or no meaning to average citizens whose lives revolve entirely in the state.
In civilised climes, traffic lights play great role in regulating possible road misuse by errant motorists and pedestrians alike. The culture of obeying traffic rules through strict observance of traffic light-calls had been trademarks of society with discipline and regard for orderliness.
The United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Republics of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia are a few of the countries with rich culture of traffic lights usage in regulation of traffics, especially, within densely populated cities.
In Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos remain the two leading places with highest number of traffic light installations in their cities. Other states such as Rivers, Enugu, Imo, Oyo, Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and a few others have a number of traffic light installations but much noticeable within their capital territories.
While the facility’s presence is savoured in those cities they could be found, the current state of some of these installations is nothing much to be proud of as they stand like relics of old monument in some cities due to passage of time without a thought of upgrading them, even as their expected responsibilities continue to increase. This growing burden comes as a result of increasing population dovetailing into increasing number of motorists and other road users the facilities are meant to service.
Surprisingly, despite the growing demand for traffic light duties in highly burgeoning Nigerian society, the environment has not witnessed the commensurate increase in the number of this facility while some of the existing installations are analogue, with the last real operational time not easy to ascertain. Simply put, some of these old traffic lights have ceased to function a long time ago and people hardly remember now what its function is supposed to be.
Apparently, with the huge deficit of traffic lights in many road intersections across many cities in Nigeria, road users battle with traffic with the human assistance as could be provided in many cases while subjecting to be out of tune with usage of the light. Some motorists naturally developed predilections for disregard to traffic lights if no human security personnel is within sight. The impatience exuded by motorists as well as pedestrians exposes the naivety of average Nigerian road user who views observance of traffic light as no significant part of their social responsibility.
In South-East, the trauma road users go through, especially at peak hours of the day is too harrowing to be allowed any further thrive. However, this scenario is not peculiar to South-East road users alone as it cuts across all the geopolitical divides, hence, the singling out of South-East cases as mere specifics of the analogy. In Enugu, the old Eastern region’s capital, Abakpa- Liberty Junction is always a no go area due to traffic gridlock from 8:00am to 11:00am and the situation returns from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. The Trans-ekulu, Nowas section as well as the Old Park, Holy Ghost, down to Ogui Road sections can palpitate the blood pressure of volatile hearts when one is caught deep in its hold.
In Delta State, the Abraka, Nnebisi-RoadJjunction, traffic experience is a nightmare whenever it occurs and the rate of occurrence qualifies for ‘constant’ in a mathematical analysis. The Traffic–light Busstop at Nnebisi-road constitutes bottlenecks to smooth journey across Ogbogolo Market down to Okpanam road on real hectic times.
In all these cases, there seem to be a common phenomenon surrounding the occurrence – that element is impatience. According to a Yoruba road user, resident in Asaba, Delta State, who identified himself as Rasheed Adelekan, “the observable impatience is a product of poor traffic culture in our clime. May be, due to very limited presence of traffic lights in many parts of the road we use, a lot of people failed to internalise the culture of observing traffic lights as integral aspect of their social norms.
Anambra State recently sprang in resplendent glee of traffic lights. From Awka, the capital territory to Nnewi the industrial home of the state, down to Onitsha, the commercial hub of not just Anambra but the Eastern region, traffic lights have emerged in significant number within all major junctions of her urban roads across all the zones of the state recently.
The state government, under Governor Willie Obiano deserves commendation for bringing the state up to speed with what was initially the privilege of highly civilised society and frontline developing ones.
This is remarkable in many ways as that which was the exclusive preserve of the elite cities all-over the world has come to stay in this part of the world, courtesy of the visions of the governor but most significantly is the introduction of the citizenry into a new culture of conscious digitalised system of road use.
The challenge at present remains the people’s conformity with the new system. A society leader and public affairs analyst, resident in Onitsha, Anambra State, Patrick Ike captures the moment thus; “apart from adding panoramic value to the road infrastructure, it offers ground for ease of traffic flow without necessarily any coercion from security agencies or traffic managers. I think the presence of such personnel at this era of traffic light operations is to apprehend defaulters.”
He added; “it is really appalling to sound minds that some Nigerians would choose to flout traffic lights’ call simply because they think there may be no security personnel to arrest them. How unfortunate that could be? It may shock you that some of these people disregarding traffic light in the country obey it strictly when they travel outside the country.”
While the year’s activities coalesce into Christmas celebrations, road uses are bound to witness more intense pressure due to influx of human and vehicular movements.
The road safety agencies ought to take the campaign a notch higher in sensitising the populace on the current system. Internalising the call may take some time but persistence can help build the desired consciousness and citizenry for life in a new dawn.
Errant motorists should equally be strictly pernalised to force compliance on them without further delay.
It is equally important to educate siren blaring motorists which in some cases are in entourage of a prominent persons or bullion vans plying the road. There should be provision for emergencies but the flagrant abuse of traffic lights regulation by some of these highly placed individuals should be discouraged. There must be rule that applies to all, therefore, the impunity of escort drivers who in some cases may not be on any official duties but in utter abuse of their privileges, leading to brazen bully of the masses and open disregard for traffic rules without being reprimanded by authorities concerned should be checked.
For those residents in Anambra cities, especially in Onitsha, the moment calls for sober reflection and self exorcism from traffic infraction tendencies.
The traffic lights are mounted not just to add glamour to their environment but to ease the people’s plight from truculent gridlocks that form part of the social miseries they face daily.
While much efforts bear down on making the Yuletide hitch-free, interns of heavy traffic gridlocks in major points associated with the season, greater interest should be to indoctrinate the populace on culture of civilised traffic management for better life.