Who lives in an open truck on Lagos’ streets? L-A-S-T-M-A.
Forget Freddy Kruger, these are the real nightmares on Toyin Street. Garbed in purple and yellow, no car is too rickety and no stop sign is too poorly advertised to prevent these guys from ruining at least ten minutes of your day.
Chances are, you’ve encountered some of Lagos’s finest Traffic Management agents if you’ve ever had reason to ply Lagos’ roads. Their preferences are completely ignoring real hazards on the road, like reckless tanker drivers and untethered trailers, for a chance to inform you of how your the non-existent red light you ran qualifies you for a psych eval or how your recently expired license is a sure sign of impending doom for the other hapless motorists on the roads of Lagos.
Yeah, just about everyone has a story or seven to tell about their encounters with LASTMA. Take these guys and their experiences for instance:
For me, the summation of my dealings with the agency can be summarised into simple a simple equation: “The absence of a traffic sign is equal to the presence of LASTMA.”
Case in point, I was driving my friends car around Mile 12 one day, doing the mental math of how many years it would take for me to afford the front half of a car, when literally a swarm of people LASTMA officials began trying their hardest to gain entry into the car. From their excitement, I could glean that there was some sign prohibiting a U-turn I must have missed.
But, unless this sign was underground, or hung up on a tree somewhere, I was certain I hadn’t missed anything. Anyway, after 15 minutes of back and forth on whether or not there was indeed a sign, if I was maybe blind and if the officials were indeed liars, the good agents decided to let me off easy, but only if I paid 10 000 for all their effort. So, that’s the story of how I spent 6k I didn’t have on an imaginary sign.
Uncle Segun “No nonsense”.
I’ve had one-thousand and one run-ins with LASTMA, but my favourite one was the time they stopped my uncle and I while driving around Eko Bidge. Now, I don’t know if it was something in the air, but my uncle just wasn’t having it that day. When the officials gathered our car and demanded we drive to their office, my uncle pleaded with them not to enter the car or risk never coming out. I knew we were in for it when the most aggressive of the bunch worked his way into the car and my uncle immediately activated the central lock. Officer Latunji, my insincere apologies again for taking you on a joy ride across Lagos, hope it wasn’t too hard finding your way back from Sangotedo?
The Getting of Ginikachi.
I was in my way to see some random movie around Ikeja City Mall, where there’s this turning with a really easy to miss stop sign. While I was driving, congratulating my friend on how early we made it to see our movie, a LASTMA official popped out of no where to stand infront of my car. No literally, they may have transported there. Next thing, five officials surrounded my car, telling me how I was going to pay a fine of 50 000 and undergo a psych evaluation for endangering so many lives with my driving.
Mind you, they had an office just a walking distance from where we were. From 50 I was able to beat it down to 15 000. Unfortunately for me, I had no cash and as this happened before mobile transfers became popular, I had to visit two ATMs on different ends of the road before they got their money. I still do a low waka whenever I pass a LASTMA official.
Toketemu’s student woes
If you attended UNILAG, then you already know that that turning close to the car wash is LASTMA Central. This one time I was in the car with my friend and we were making the bend. We were stopped for about ten minutes, during which time they scrutinised every single paper, every window, every footmat looking to find something incriminating. Luckily we were fully clean, still remember the day with disappointment however.
You know that picture of a LASTMA guy spread across a car?
Wellll, swap that SUV for a Honda Civic and I could have been me the viral sensation.
I was coming back from work one evening and I wasn’t in the mood for anybody’s shit. This was around Fatai Atere leading to Ilupeju when one LASTMA official tried to stop me. At that moment, I don’t even know what came over me, I knew I hadn’t missed any signs, there were no traffic lights so I did the universal what’s wrong hand gesture. When my guy still insisted I park, I didn’t waste time, hit the accelerator and brushed the man still insisting. Nobody got time for that.
What has been your most memorable encounter with LASTMA?