The VIO has become a principality in Lagos. Ambode did the right thing by kicking them out.
Ambode wasn't done: “We advise the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to stay on the fringes and highways and not on the main streets of Lagos.”
It is some sweet music to the ears of the average Lagosian. And I am one of those.
VIO personnel have become principalities in Lagos.
That they've become a nuisance as well, isn't even up for debate.
I should know.
Three years ago, a friend was visiting from the United States. As we made our way from Alagbole to Ojodu-Berger during rush hour, there they were. Unsmiling, uncouth and belligerent.
They were belching smoke and fire from every nostril, these officers from hell.
My friend was driving us in her car. Because she doesn't reside in Nigeria, of course some of her "papers" weren't up-to-date.
She had only just arrived the country and we were taking the car for a morning spin.
All pleas fell on the deaf ears of the VIO officers who made us drive to their office, hidden somewhere in Ojodu.
We coughed out some 20k before we were allowed to proceed with our trip.
The fear of VIO in Lagos has become the beginning of wisdom for residents of this bustling city.
Lately, Lagosians have taken to twitter to warn family and friends in advance about where the officers are hiding, with the hashtag #VIOSightings.
Like most uniform wearing law enforcers in Nigeria, these VIO chaps extort money from motorists with the flimsiest of reasons.
It could be that you don't have water in your trunk. Your vehicle could be impounded over something as flimsy as driving close to a kerb!
We've all been there I guess--that moment when a VIO officer jumps in front of your car, demands for your papers and begins to leaf through the bundle with a stern look on his face.
Because you are sure that your vehicle particulars are up-to-date, you crank up the volume of your stereo until the officer who has your papers orders that you "park well" because your car doesn't have a "dustbin certificate" or a decent spare tyre!
Or you could be told that your "vehicle insurance expired this morning" or "your alignment is a danger to other road users".
And so, where traffic is normally hell in Lagos, the VIO officer makes the bedlam on the streets triple that.
They yell, they bark, they harass, they cause road mishaps and they compound traffic in congested Lagos.
It's a good thing that Ambode has also asked men and women of the FRSC to keep off State roads.
The FRSC chaps were 'gentlemen' until recently when they allowed the VIO spirit seize them.
It is not uncommon to see FRSC officers hide around sharp bends these days just to extort and cause traffic bottlenecks.
It's been two years since I applied for a drivers' license at the FRSC office in Ojodu-Berger.
I drive around town with a 'permit' handed me by a driving school right inside the premises of the FRSC.
Of course I could drive at the time, but this 'driving school' offered me no driving lessons. FRSC officers told me to pay the 'driving school' N20,000 for my license and test.
No one has ever asked me to come over for a test.
So, what you find inside FRSC offices are all kinds of 'driving school' outposts who collect N20,000 or more with the express permission of FRSC personnel who announce on radio and TV that a license costs just N6,500.
A syndicate right inside the premises of an agency of government!
It has become rather difficult to distinguish VIO personnel from their FRSC counterparts on Lagos roads; or to tell the 'owo da' miscreants from the law enforcers.
“It has become evident that these agencies contribute to the traffic challenges on our roads. We will employ technology to track and monitor vehicle registration and MOT certifications,” Ambode said, in what should pass as the understatement of the century.
He was right on the money there.
I don't know of any other 'mega-city' in the world where all kinds of officers wearing all kinds of uniforms are unleashed on busy streets and highways just to apprehend traffic offenders or just to make sure everyone has a fire extinguisher.
There are more civilised ways to rein in offenders, I'm sure.
Hopefully, the Governor goes one better by kicking the men in black--otherwise called police officers--off dark street corners.
Yeah, those guys who are armed with flash lights at the oddest of hours with the phrase: "happy weekend Sir, wetin dey for your boys na?" now uttered by rote.
To make Lagos a better place to do business, we need saner streets.
Kicking out the VIO and restricting the FRSC to federal roads, was exactly what the Doctor recommended.
Why it took Lagos this long, has to be the major concern.
Omoluabi Ambode, carry go!