The heat on Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode is well and truly on. Ambode must have known that it was never going to be easy taking over as governor after the respected Babatunde Fashola, but it’s unlikely that he could have predicted the early baptism of fire he’s been receiving. The Governor’s latest critic is the London-based economic weekly magazine, The Economist, which has said the governor lacks solutions to issues of traffic congestion and robberies.
The magazine says that Ambode has continued to fail at his job and only gives excuses for his shortcomings.
The Economist said in its latest issue that Fashola succeeded by enforcing stringent traffic laws and empowering the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority. It said Ambode’s undoing was relaxing the enforcement of traffic laws which had encouraged a culture of impunity in Nigeria’s most populous city.
It said the gridlock was already affecting productivity and the way of life of Lagosians because workers now get to work late.
It explained that armed robbers had taken advantage of the usual traffic gridlock thereby worsening the plight of Lagosians.
The report reads, “Lagos is a hub for investors in Africa – it is a bigger economy in its own right than most countries on the continent, so this is of serious concern. The state’s former governor, Babatunde Fashola, who left office after elections in March, was lauded for improving traffic and security.
“He curbed dangerous motorbike taxis and brought local ‘area boys’ (street children), under control. Cars were terrified into order by a state traffic agency, LASTMA, whose bribe-hungry officers flagged down offending drivers.
“His successor, Akinwunmi Ambode, is full of excuses, but few solutions, for the worsening gridlock. Traffic is always bad during the rains, he says. Nigerians are migrating to Lagos en masse in search of work in a worsening economy, his office adds. Yet the root of the problem is in policy: Mr. Ambode cut the powers of traffic controllers by banning them from impounding cars. In retaliation, officers have refused to enforce the rules.”
The magazine said the traffic congestion in the state was the symptom of the frosty relationship between the Ambode administration and enforcement agencies in the state.
The report adds that the traffic situation may get worse if urgent steps are not taken.
The report states, “Reform in a culture riddled with corruption is never easy. Mr. Ambode’s office says the measure was intended to create a more “civil society”. Less fastidious types think it amounts to weakness, and would prefer that he focused on public transport instead.
“The biggest concern is that the gridlock is a sign of a breakdown in relations between security forces, government agencies and the new governor. If that is the case, there could be worse to come. That is bad news not only for Lagosians, but all Nigerians too.”