The Economist Magazine, known for its hard-hitting analyses on issues of global importance, has blamed the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for the worsening traffic and escalating crime in the city describing him as “less competent”, “weak” and “full of excuses.”
There has been a spike in traffic and traffic related armed robberies in the metropolis in recent weeks.
In its just released November edition, the magazine, which described Lagos as being “among the most notoriously congested places in the world” blamed Mr. Ambode for managing to roll back some of the successes scored by his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, in managing the ordinarily chaotic traffic in the metropolis.
“Yet the gridlock that Lagosians have suffered in recent weeks is noteworthy even by the city’s horrendous standards. Rush hours have lengthened, and vehicles back up at unusual hours along the bridges linking the mainland with an island business district. Safety concerns are mounting as armed robbers pillage stuck cars while police are far away. Security experts reckon this is symptomatic of a broader increase in organised crime under a new and less competent state government,” the magazine observes.
“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, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency whose bribe-hungry officers flagged down offending drivers,” it explains.
However, it states that instead of tackling the problem head on, Mr Ambode has been blaming the rain and a gang up by officials of LASTMA for the worsening traffic.
The magazine says this is an indication that the governor is “weak”, “less competent” and “full of excuses.”
“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 rule.
“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.”