The Lagos State Management Agency (LASTMA) has said that “allowing fuel to be exhausted in one’s vehicle on the highway does not show responsibility”, hence it cannot be said to have committed any illegality by impounding a vehicle abandoned on the road and causing wilful obstruction, which is an offence in the law.
Filade Olumide, the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, of the agency, stated this on Thursday in response to an FIJ story about the heavy fining of a man whose car ran out of fuel in Oshodi, Lagos, and has been unable to retrieve it since Monday.
Olumide’s statement read: “RE: LASTMA ASKS LAGOS DRIVER TO PAY N60,000 AFTER HIS CAR RAN OUT OF FUEL
“The online publication of the above subject matter is at best mischievous and a calculated attempt for public sympathy in order to avoid justice.
“The Lagos State Traffic Law as enacted and amended by the Lagos State House of Assembly as regards the above is an unfounded allegation against the Lagos State Traffic Management Authourity (LASTMA).
“According to the report, allowing fuel to be exhausted in one’s vehicle on the highway does not show responsibility. LASTMA has not committed any illegality by impounding a vehicle abandoned on the road and causing wilful obstruction which is an offence in the law.
“It should be noted that LASTMA will not be irresponsible as to leave such vehicle on the road, so as not to disturb other road users, while the said sixty-thousand-naira (=N=60,000.00) fine is broken down into Wilful Obstruction – fifty thousand naira (=N=50,000.00) and Towing fee – ten thousand naira (=N=10,000.00) as specified in the Lagos State Transport Law of 2018.”
Olumide insisted that the action “does not amount to an arbitrary imposition of fine”.
“The agency will not allow any person to constitute a nuisance to other road users in whatever form, as road users are expected to be responsible in maintaining their vehicles and have consideration for other road users,” he said.
“Imagine if all other road users are also allowed to act against the law, what would become of Lagos traffic? Fines and penalties are meant to serve as deterrent against another occurrence and for others to learn from. Government cannot afford to fail law abiding citizens of the State. Let us all join hands together for a greater Lagos.”
On Tuesday, FIJ had reported how LASTMA officials seized a Toyota Sienna belonging to Chidiebere Nwaiwu and asked him to pay a fine of N60,000 because his car ran out of fuel.
Nwaiwu had told FIJ his mechanic was driving around Airport Road in Oshodi to ascertain what was wrong with the car when the fuel in it got exhausted. He then parked by the roadside to avoid causing gridlock and rushed to get fuel from the nearest filling station.
However, in less than 10 minutes after the mechanic left, LASTMA officials got to where the car was and towed it away. The officials did not listen to what the mechanic had to say. Next, they changed the narrative, claiming the mechanic had parked the car in the middle of the road.
He also said he knew the officers wanted to extort some money from him the moment he spoke to them over the phone.
“When I got to their office at Oshodi, they delayed me for hours,” Nwaiwu said.
“They claimed their boss who would handle my case was not around. After waiting for hours, I spoke to her on the phone and she said I should pay to get my car. She claimed that my mechanic parked in the centre of the road.
“The men at the office said I would pay N50,000 for my offence and N10,000 for towing the vehicle. Although I have talked to them tirelessly since yesterday, they still insist that if I want to get my car, I must pay.”
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