Musings on teary-eyed owners of vehicles auctioned for driving against traffic in Lagos – By Bamidele Johnson

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The desperate tears-captured in a video-of owners of vehicles auctioned by the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Task Force touched me.  A part of me, that is. One of them, hands waving frantically like an orchestra conductor’s, as he begged, moved me the most.

The vehicles were said to have been driven in prohibited directions aka one way and their auction is backed by a law.

Harsh? Yes. Fair? Yes. Those chaps, who turned to jelly on seeing their vehicles being offered for sale, woulda been double macho, feistily shooting off curses if you’d cautioned them against going one way.
“Gbenu e soun (shut up)”, “I go jam your car and nothing go happen” and “Olowo igbo (person of questionable wealth” are some of their go-to lines.

Those who drive/ride in prohibited directions, acting like they’re ambulances or police vehicles, don’t think it’s wrong. They don’t even seem to know the difference between right and wrong until moments like the one captured in the video. They are giddy with a sense of achievement when they pull it off. I guess it makes them feel virile.

One way drivers/riders have killed, maimed people, damaged cars of law-abiding drivers and continue to do so. A first cousin’s wife was killed by a one way driver. I was a victim of an okada riding one way and without a headlight.

I have seen more sympathetic people say the one waving frantically must be using his auctioned vehicle for commercial purpose. They consider the punishment too heavy.  Perhaps. A first offender could be forced to pay 50 per cent of the value of the car. A second offender could be made to pay 70 per cent of the value.

What I do not agree with is the suggestion that he should have got the car back to stop him from joining the country’s criminal community. Those so persuaded are unlikely to keep a crooked store keeper or bent accountant on his job to ensure crime does not become appealing to him. A rap on the knuckles is unfair to law-abiding members of the society.

The arrogance of one way drivers, especially in Lagos, is beyond breathtaking. Driving in a prohibited direction verges on intent to kill or cause grave bodily harm. Pedestrians, especially young children, crossing the road and not expecting vehicles to drive in prohibited directions have been run over.

This society needs laws that snarl non-stop at offenders like an angry bear and sink their teeth into fleshier body parts. It goes without saying that the enforcement must be without fear of favour. We can’t desire a more livable society by high-fiving some of those who make every second feel like an eternity in torture.

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