Working Lives – LASTMA Officials
One of the standout features of Lagos is the men and women in yellow-shirt and wine-trouser uniforms, controlling the ever heavy flow of traffic in the city, both under the sun and in the rain. Like many jobs, there are ins and outs with being an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and as with everybody, they too have interesting personal journeys and stories to tell. But far more interesting is the many routes one can go through to joining the agency, which we explore in this weekend’s Working Lives. Enjoy the read!
Working Lives: The LASTMA Officer Who Paid N80,000 to Get In
I paid someone on the inside during my time though because a lot of people applied and they needed just 1,500 candidates or so. It wasn’t easy even with the fact that I paid. I paid the person N80,000 to help me work it. A lot of us did actually.”
Where are you from?
I am from Ekiti State.
Please, tell us about your education?
I studied Public Administration and graduated from Polytechnique about ten years ago.
Please, tell us about your family?
My dad is late, but he was an electrician before he died. My mom on the other hand is a nurse, she works with the Teaching Hospital. I have six siblings and I am the second child. We were all born in Lagos.
Where do you live?
I am married now, so I live with my husband in our house. It is a 3-bedroom flat.
How did you start working as a LASTMA officer?
The usual story. After school it wasn’t so easy to get a job, and when I eventually got a job the pay wasn’t good enough. I was going to the island every day from Monday to Friday but I was spending more than half of my salary on transport. So, I had to quit. After about a year and some months of sitting at home and doing nothing, my in-law then told me about the LASTMA recruiting scheme, and I gave it a shot.
How does the process work into being employed?
All you have to do is fill the form and submit then hope to be called for a screening test. I paid someone on the inside during my time though because a lot of people applied and they needed just 1,500 candidates or so. It wasn’t easy even with the fact that I paid. I paid the person N80,000 to help me work it. A lot of us did actually.
Do you go through some sort of training and for how long?
Yes, new recruits are trained on effective traffic management within Lagos State. The agency also organizes various orientation and training programmes for the new recruits on traffic control and management to ensure professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
Do LASTMA officers get prosecuted for misconduct?
Yes of course. The agency takes misconduct seriously. Once you are caught and found guilty, that’s it, one would be sacked. There are departments and sections that deal with discipline like the provost marshal’s office, surveillance and monitoring unit, and LASTMA complaint units.
How much does an offender have to pay to get himself out of trouble when you don’t do it through the books?
As much as your offence is, but as low as N5,000. Officials hardly collect bribes these days though because the agency has spies around on the look. All they have to do just take a picture of you and get your name. Before you know it, you will be called in to face the disciplinary committee.
Is there some sort of ranking in the job and how does it work?
Yes, there is. Beginning with the headquarters operation, there is the Assistant Director of Operations (Ad Ops), assisted by his lieutenant, both of who are in overall charge of operations in LASTMA.
There are fourteen (14) AREA COMMANDS and THIRTY-FIVE (35) ZONES spread across the state. Each command is headed by an area commander and the zones by zonal heads (zebra).
Every area commander reports all activities in their respective commands to the Ad ops. Meanwhile, zonal heads are directly answerable to their area commanders while the zones are sub-grouped under area commands in twos and threes.
Each zonal head is assisted by two heads of operation (eagle alpha and bravo); and one is subordinate to the other. Directly responsible to the heads of operation is the shift supervisor/coordinator (falcon) that renders reports of activities and conduct of staff to him.
Each zonal head designs the best operational tactics or system most suitable for his environment, although in accordance with standard official regulations of the agency, to operate and administer men, materials, and traffic management within his domain; but in consultation with the area commander.
Have you had any funny experiences on the job?
Not really, I always brace myself up for whatever might happen while I am on the job.
How much do you earn?
I earn N65,000 monthly.
What were you doing before you started working as a LASTMA officer?
After I left that job I spoke about earlier, I was running a cybercafé for a while by myself. I still run it now though, I just have someone that oversees things there now.
How many hours do you work in a day?
I work from 7am to 7pm. So that’s basically 12 hours.
What’s your best day like on the job?
When it doesn’t rain. When it rains, everywhere is always messy, bad roads here and there and that, of course, will course traffic which means more work for me.
How much do you spend in a day?
I spend an average of N600 daily on feeding while at work and my transport fare back home. I usually get a free bus when I am coming to work in the morning, as per ‘staff’ now.
What other things do you spend money on?
I hardly spend on anything that is not so important, I save a bulk of my salary for the rainy days. Anything can happen at any time and I wouldn’t like a situation whereby I would be stranded.
For how long have you been on the job?
I started in 2015. So, I have been on this job for close to 5 years now.
You talked about how you save a bulk of your money, how much do you save in a month?
I get to save N35,000 monthly, sometimes I even save N40,000.
Are you married/ looking forward to marrying?
Yes, I am happily married. My husband does more of the spending at home as he has a better job than I and understands that my pay is not good enough. So he doesn’t bother or even expect me to spend on anything at home. But this doesn’t mean I don’t take care of one or two things at home though.
Do you have plans to venture into something else apart from being a LASTMA officer?
I was talking to my husband about starting a business, maybe open a store or something. This work is stressful. Sometimes I work more than 12 hours if traffic gets out of hand. My leg hurts so bad. So, I am looking forward to starting a business of my own next year. When that sets in, I can then start thinking about leaving this job.