- LASTMA CEO, CHRIS OLAKPE Reveals
- Rolls Out Phone Numbers To Call
Exactly a year ago, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) wore a new face; and a new leader emerged too to take the affairs of the organisation to the next level. It was a relief when ex-AIG Chris A. Olakpe was announced the Chief Executive Officer of LASTMA. He was appointed at a time the organisation needed fresh ideas.
Chris A. Olakpe is a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos.
He joined the Nigeria Police in 1982 and had traversed various commands including Bayelsa and Plateau states where he served as Commissioner of Police. He was also a Deputy Commandant of the Police Academy, Kano and Commissioner of Police in charge of Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Lagos. A member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (ICAP), Olakpe rose to become Assistant Inspector General of Police before his in retirement in 2014.
Last week, City People’s duo, TAJUDEEN ADIGUN, ISAAC ABIMBADE and Photographer, JIMMY ABDULRASHEED, paid him a courtesy visit in his office, where he shared some of the ideas he brought to better the running of the organisation and also revealed what Lagosians drivers should be aware of. Enjoy.
Let’s begin by asking you to share with us one or two things about yourself?
I am Chris Olakpe. I am an Assistant Inspector General of Police (retired) and the current Chief Executive Officer of LASTMA. I served in the force, having graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1979. I have served in various positions in the force. One of the highlights of which is my service as the first Public Relations Officer under the leadership of Tafa Balogun a former Inspector General of Police. I served from 2002 to 2005 as the Spokesperson of the force. Aside that, I was also appointed the Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State. I was at various times and levels in charge of training at the Nigerian Police Academy, where Cadets are trained as Officers of the rank of Inspector of Police, for candidates who have OND and Superior Officers, cadre for candidates who have Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree also. I had three stints there.
As the Chief Executive Officer of the LASTMA, tell us the functions of your office and what differentiates it from that of the office of General Manager?
The office of CEO is just like a Group Managing Director, while the office of General Manager is in-charge of operations. So, he works with the Director of Operations, and administration, so, he works in tandem with the Director of Operations, the Director of Logistics and other sundry offices and they report directly to me in case of infractions, I take decision for them, I take decision for financies and so on. I am at the top of the organisation and he his second in command. He does the operational day-to-day running and he gives/briefs me on what is going on here and there. We work hand-in-hand; just as Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Since you took over the leadership of this organisation, could you tell us some of the things you have done that have indicated changes in the way the organisation had been run before?
When I came on board, I came with a template of an agenda, which I christened: “10 -Point Agenda”. I came with operation keep traffic moving, where men are made to be visible, accessible and report on time at their job points and do their jobs appropriately. I also came on board to inspire collaboration with other security agencies. When I came in, one of the things I observed was that there was non- plus relationship between LASTMA as an agency, the Military, the Police and other security agencies, so I had to do a very robust collaborative dynamics in promotion of building bridges to link the military the Police and other sisters and supportive organisations such as the Federal Road Sefety Commission and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps. So, I set up that mechanism to bridge the gab and to make us work in tandem and it has built up a robust relationship between LASTMA as an agency, the police and the Military in various ramifications.
I took the issue of graft and corruption serious. And I set up a very tight anti-corruption agency, which is headed by a top LASTMA Officer and his duty was to go round with his men to all check points to ensure men are Committed to the work and not Committed to their pockets. We facilitate arrest, but besides arrest, we facilitate training and re-training to foster attitudinal change. So, the rate of corruption is reduced to the bearest minimum. We also raised level of enforcement; enforcement in conjunction with traffic court, the mobile traffic court, to ensure traffic rules violators or offenders are brought to book through payment of fines. We also have the BRT lanes, which is well police by the combination of forces, we have the LASTMA agency, working in tandem with LASTMA protection agency and that is going on very well.
Although, the level of understanding of the BRT lane is still very low, but we are using enforcement and enlightment to raise level of awareness because the issue of BRT is very sacrosanct to the infrastructural development of the state.
And as we are trying to ensure that we have fewer influx of cars on Lagos roads, more passengers and more will be induced to board the BRT buses, so many buses are expected soon, particularly after the completion of Abule Egba axis project.
People are of the opinion that LASTMA as an agency was more active and better equipped in the past. Is it true?
When Governor Ambode came on board, he brought in a novel idea of protocol of arrest. Before he came in, you would see LASTMA Officers involved in physical combat, fighting on the street in the name of enforcement. But Ambode said ‘no’ to such an uncivilised public shame because LASTMA is to correct road users’ misbehaviour, misnormal conduct, and put them on the right tracks. If someone, who has not come to Lagos before drives against traffic on a one way road, instead of arresting and charging the person with traffic offence you should put him through and warn him not to do that again. When Ambode came in, he came in with a template of simplicity and that’s what we follow.
Has there been any seminar or workshop where the philosophy of the present regime were preached, absorbed and practicalised?
Training and retraining are the dynamics of any organisation. We have enrolled all our men for training in the Lagos Enforcement Training Institute (LETI). We also have regular interactive sessions with them to have a feedback, to know what’s going on among them and what are their needs and requirements.
We also have fresher in-house training programmes for the young men and women, through which new managerial, new enforcement details are made practicable to them.
What are those rules to obey that will save Lagosians from being ‘harassed’ or arrested by any LASTMA Officer(s)?
First of all, there must be attitutional change, which is very important; lane discipline, which is also very important. We have been talking to drivers; educating them. We have been trying to emphasise lane discipline, which is very important. Another one is driving without a driver’s licence; you must have authorisation to be on the high-way. Some people just feel the roads is for everybody. You don’t just jump on the way. The man who has the way must have driver’s licence. And when you arrest them, they speak in Yoruba; that “I forgot it at home; let me go back to bring it” and they are lying about it.
Also, you must have insurance cover. At least, third party. This is very important. Some people are also driving with malfunctioning wipers; some of the wipers are bad and you are driving in the rain. Many people are fond of texting (chatting) on their phones, while driving. All these are distractions. So. you must not drive and simultaneously text.
You must not drive and make calls because some calls could tragic and when you shout at wheels, it could lead to accident and these are distractions. You must also drive with yourr seat belt on (always). There is no place in the world where you drive without fasten you seat belt. So, these are the attitudes we have to adopt to make driving safer and make it easier for people to move from point ‘A’ to ‘B’. Finally, every driver must master driving codes. You must master them. Have you seen the code before? Have you seen the traffice laws before. You must make a must buy.
Are LASTMA Officers qualified to ask a driver for his driving licence?
Is it not proper for a LASTMA Officer to ask you why are you on the road without a driver’s licence? Yes, it is part of the work of LASTMA because you can’t be on the road without a driver’s licence.
What other measures you think could be introduced to further build the confidence among members of the publics and make people regard the staffers of your organisation as friends who are purposely deployed to help them to attain a better understanding of the roads, the rules and regulations?
First of all, what you are doing now is enlightment campaign for the LASTMA and for the publics. It has a is dual purpose. And that is why we are happy to receive you and to help us in enunciating, explaining and informing members of the publics about the needs not to be on the road without a driver’s licence. We are deeply in collaboration with the Press. In fact, we are arranging a visit to City People very soon, an official visit to City People to see your facilities and also talk to you. We also have radio programmes, where we enlight people.
Why is it always traffic gridlock any time it rains in Lagos?
The traffic bottle necks on Lagos roads are a result of influx of vehicles coming to Lagos from all over the country from East, North, West and South everyday. We have close to 9 million cars including trucks and lorries coming to Lagos and because of the wear and tear, you begin to see potholes here and there and when there is rain; there’s what we call flash-flood, and when you have flash flood people would stop, trying to gauge the depth of potholes spots on road. This is to know whether there is gutter somewhere so as to slow down and it creates traffic bottle-necks. Let me also announce to you that Governor Ambode has directed that those potholes should be fixed immediately the rains are over
What are you doing to curb the bad eggs among your officers?
That’s why I said we have created a surveillance section; surveillance and monitoring section. These officers are always in mufti. Their jobs is to go round as “CID” and we also know that they can not be everywhere. Anywhere the members of the public see a violation by our men or if they request bride or want to extort, they should report such conduct to the LASTMA complaints response unit. You can call them on: 08129928646. You can also call the General Manager on 08129928550. You can call CEO on 08036929809. So, these are numbers you can call to make complaint on whatever you want to report or complain about. We are ready for you any time.
How do you relax with the type of job you do?
Sometimes on my way home, I drive into the mess, Police Mess and I take a cold drink with my friends and I share ideas with them.
How have you addressed the level of illiteracy among officers of LASTMA?
It’s a misnormal to say that those LASTMA Officers you re seeing are illiterate. Most of them have gone to school to upgrade themselves. Most of them are Bachelor’s degree holders, some are Master’s degree holders. LASTMA men are selected through rigorous selection, trainings and extra service training.