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DPA flays Lagos new traffic law

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE on 2008/06/12 | Views: 1576 |

DPA flays Lagos new traffic law

The Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has queried Lagos State new traffic laws, describing their terms as draconian, immoral and guaranteed to inflame corruption.

The Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has queried Lagos State new traffic laws, describing their terms as draconian, immoral and guaranteed to inflame corruption.

"We fervently hope someone made a typographical error and the fine for driving against traffic is not N250,000 as published. That is minimum wage for two years and the price of some fairly-used cars," DPA said. "This 1,000 per cent increase in fines for traffic offences is draconian and is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. Nowhere in the civilised world, US, UK, Holland or France inclusive, does anyone pay $2,000 for a vehicular offence. It is not done anywhere."

The party’s statement, signed by Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, is responding to Lagos State Government’s notice this week that fines imposed on drivers, cyclists and passengers of vehicles running against traffic had jumped from N25,000 to N250,000.
DPA warned: "The penalties will only provide illicit enrichment for law-enforcement agents because offenders will prefer to forfeit their vehicles or bribe their way through with a lesser amount, than pay such an unholy sum."

According to the party, by publishing the new traffic regulations, the government had placed the cart before the horse, as it had failed to provide equipment that would facilitate compliance and enforcement.
"How do you gauge over-speeding without first equipping traffic police with speed-reading devices, without calibrated radar detectors, without speed signs? How do you judge an overloaded vehicle without weigh stations and mobile weighing devices? Judges will have to decide traffic cases on hearsay. The government has turned the law on its head and placed the burden of proof on the suspect," DPA said.

In addition, the party said that the law as it related to abandoned vehicles made no provision for determining deadlines or notification of owners about deadlines; neither did it stipulate the exact time after which a vehicle would have stayed stationary before it is tagged as abandoned.
In the words of DPA: "The whole law would have been laughable if not that we know the government will marshal all efforts to implement it. For one, it contradicts a basic principle of law that punishment should match the gravity of the crime. For example, where the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) imposes N1,000 and at most N5,000 on traffic offenders, Lagos wants N250,000 for the same offence. How on earth do you justify this excessive punishment?"
Confident that the harsh sentences would not deter traffic offences, DPA urged the government to concentrate on improving the condition of Lagos roads and traffic jam situations that fuel traffic violations.

The party also protested fines imposed on passengers and absentee owners of offending vehicles.
"Are they saying that should one of the children, drivers, friends or staff of Governor Raji Fashola (or a Commissioner) violate this law while driving his vehicle, His Excellency will be liable to a jail term and a N250,000 fine?" DPA queried.

The party noted that standard practice worldwide rarely criminalised civil and traffic offences, except where a driver’s actions unequivocally and avoidably compromised the safety of life, limbs and vehicles. Lagos DPA counseled that instead of imprisonment, more reasonable punishments should be explored, such as community service, banning, suspension and seizing of offenders’ licences.

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