Just as disruptive technologies are raging through industries, markets, and reshaping business processes, products and models, it might not take long before smart governments in Nigeria begin to deploy emerging techs in law enforcement processes. This I must admit, comes with attendant job losses, and of course new sets of jobs could be created too.
Each time I drive through key areas notorious for traffic congestion in Lagos State, Nigeria, often ask myself why we find it difficult to enforce basic traffic laws, even with huge number of traffic officials from various agencies of government scattered across different routes of the State. Then one day, a seemingly petty idea flashed through my mind. What if the Lagos State government concession some parts of traffic monitoring and enforcement roles out to a private firm? That sound crazy, right? I will explain how, think this would work.
Elements of Traffic Enforcement Roles to be Outsourced
- Traffic light deployments, maintenance, and monitoring across key routes in the State.
- Tracking of traffic light breaches by motorists and keeping tab of offenders through deployment of drones and CCTVs.
- Tracking traffic law breaches (i.e. one-way driving, wrong turning, following wrong lane, packing on main road etc.) by motorists and keeping tab of offenders through deployment of drones and CCTVs.
- Working with relevant government agencies to ensure that traffic offenders pay fines for traffic law breaches at the point vehicle documents renewal.
The Prospective Concessionaires
I suggest that the process of getting few interested firms should be thrown open and made competitive. I do think more than one firm should be engaged for this project. Amongst other requirements, the selected concessionaire(s) should have:
- Strong competencies in emerging transportation and traffic management technologies.
- Financial and technical capacity to deploy and maintain CCTVs and drones across key routes in the State; track and monitor traffic law breaches.
Who Pays The Bill
Ultimately, the traffic law offenders will pay the bill. Periodically, government pay the concessionaires, but that would be recovered from traffic law offenders.
How Will Government Secure Maximum Revenue from Traffic Law Offenders?
I understand that we have a terrible address system in Nigeria. It’s difficult to track people to their places of residences. We don’t even have unique identities for our people. Therefore, it’s difficult to trace traffic offenders to their places of residence. But here is how government can recover fines from offenders:
- The participating firm(s) use drones or CCTV to capture the offence scene, including the offender’s plate number.
- They maintain a database for these records and regularly share same with government traffic agencies for enforcement of fines collection.
- Each time anyone is coming to renew his/her vehicle documents, the relevant agency sifts through the digital records to see that the fellow hasn’t committed traffic offence during past months. If s/he has, the person should be made to pay the relevant fines before s/he could proceed with papers renewal.
- Traffic agencies should be empowered and made to focus more on ensuring that motorists have genuine documents.
Benefits of this Initiative
- Motorists will exercise higher discretion while driving, knowing that they are being monitored by drones or CCTV.
- There will be higher sanity on Lagos roads, with lesser involvement of unscrupulous traffic officials.
- And yes, lower incidence of bribery and intimidation by traffic officials.
- It saves government cost of deploying traffic lights and maintenance of same, regularly.
Downside to this Initiative
- Let’s face it. Some of the officials of Lagos Traffic Management Agencies (LASTMA) might be rendered redundant. Government can redeploy them to other areas of public service.
- Expectedly, people might fight this initiative. The issue of fines might not be acceptable to the public. The fines should be considerate, commensurate to the related offence, and yet punitive.
- Since private firms are involved, the quest for profit might create moral hazard on their part such that motorists are preyed into committing traffic offenses.