The extent to which the economy of a society will develop is dependent on how technologically-driven the public transportation system is. In fact, the survival of any economy is largely determined by the efficiency of the transportation system. And to a large extent, this efficiency can only be achieved with the application of technology in transportation.
With the pronouncement on the use of technology for Traffic Management on 16th May, 2017 and the subsequent introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system, Lagos State has joined the league of world smart cities with unalloyed sustainability plan.
The commencement of ANPR for the verification of vehicle documents such as vehicle licence, roadworthiness and insurance synchronized on e-platforms has brought about easy accessibility to vehicle status, while removing human intervention which impedes traffic.
Before the adoption of technology, manual verifications were conducted by the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) through checks on the road, with the attendant clash between the officers and the violators.
The operational value of ANPR technology through removal of human intervention has led to the maintenance of tranquility on the roads, reduction in traffic and enhanced economic opportunities and growth across the state.
Another integral part of the deployment of technology in traffic management in Lagos State is the Traffic Management Solution (TMS) device. The TMS is a Traffic Law compliance scheme that allows the real-time capture of picture and video evidence of road traffic and vehicle compliance violations as they occur.
Through the deployment of the device, the perennial gridlock usually generated through controversies between the traffic law enforcement officers and traffic law violators is gradually reducing.
The offender may choose to visit a Traffic Law Court and present the violation number for the violation he/she wishes to challenge in line with global best practice.
Significantly, with the introduction of the TMS device, the need for traffic law enforcement personnel to have physical contact whatsoever with vehicular offenders on the road will gradually reduce. This is because they now only face the duty of capturing violations and providing an enabling environment for efficient and effective traffic management, which, of course, is their primary duty.
The goal of this modern device is to simplify enforcement by eliminating situations that facilitate traffic impediments and cause counterproductive results on our roads.
This is exactly how traffic violations and compliance checks are processed in developed countries all over the world, and Lagos, being an emerging smart city, should not be different in any way.
In another development, reports gathered through traffic count survey have clearly shown that the roundabouts and junctions, which were built when the state’s population was around 3-5 million, could no longer cope with the current population of over 22 million.
In September 2019, the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation embarked on Traffic Management Intervention Plan (TMIP) for 60 identified junctions/corridors with a view to enforcing the proper use of road carriageway, pedestrian walkways, parks and garages. This is in order to reduce travel time, lessen pedestrian/motorist conflicts, and improve safety on the roads.
The TMIP led to the reconfiguration of the junctions, including six major roundabouts which were remodelled into junctions. These include Allen Junction, Lekki Junction 1, Lekki Junction 2, Ikotun Junction, Maryland Junction and Abraham Adesanya Junction. All of them are now under the control of traffic signal technology, thereby replacing manual traffic management style.
The synchronized smart traffic signal lights at the junctions have contributed in great measures to seamless traffic management across major junctions and roundabouts in the state. Right now, going through Allen Roundabout, for instance, requires less travel time, as opposed to what was obtainable in the past.
The same experience is similar at Maryland Junction, which used to be a major traffic bottleneck in the past.
At Ikotun Junction, human error is the reason why the traffic signal light control has not been maximized. The conflicts between transport unions, motorists and traders are the major cause of the setback the junction is experiencing.
Thanks to the latest infusion of technology, traffic management is getting better across the state. Evidence abounds to support this claim. In Ikeja Under Bridge, for instance, navigating the corridor now takes lesser travel time, courtesy the traffic signal lights, as opposed to what was happening before.
Similarly, following the introduction of the ‘no vehicle inspection, no roadworthiness certificate’ policy, which commenced in January 2022, the Lagos State Government has been able to stem incessant accidents, loss of lives and property.
The policy regime has put under check vehicles that could pose danger to other road users through minimum safety standard tests conducted at the 31 computerised vehicle inspection centres across the state and the two mobile centres. Through these centres, a reasonable degree of sanity is being maintained on Lagos roads.
The good news has also extended to Apapa and its environs in terms of reduction in traffic congestion. Sequel to the takeover of Apapa traffic management and control with the aim of restoring sanity and socio-economic prosperity to Apapa and its environs, the state government partnered with the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) for the introduction of e-call-up technology system for truck access into the ports. This is also in addition to the establishment of eight truck parks (holding bays) in different locations of the state to help park containerised vehicles off the road.
The e-call-up technology, which was linked with the holding bays, has helped in the reduction of traffic in Apapa and its environs. It has reduced traffic to the barest minimum within a short period of the introduction. Considering its relative success, a replica of this initiative is also to be deployed on the Lekki/Epe corridor.
Through the introduction of the central integrated e-payment system, the state government has made great strides in enhancing integration between the different modes of transportation, thus bringing about seamless travel experience. The use of electronic payment (e-payment) system in the payment of transport fares and payments verification has equally assisted a great deal in giving commuters a rewarding travel experience.
Currently, a central integrated e-payment system is being implemented on all modes of transportation in the state. The components of the e-payment system include ticketing system software, smart cards (cowry card), card readers and validations (on-board and standalone) and ticket vending machines.
Universally, technology is now the way to go. Being the nation’s ‘Centre of Excellence’, Lagos should naturally be in the forefront of integrating technology into every sphere of the citizenry’s daily activities. This is what the Sanwo-Olu administration has been doing in the public transportation sector, and the results have been quite worthwhile.
Lagosians are, thus, encouraged to come onboard this modern approach to public transportation system. Together, we can change the narrative in the state and, indeed the country at large.
*Ogunlola is Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Alausa, Ikeja.