Working Lives

Working Lives: The LASTMA Officer Who Used to Be a Baba Ijebu Agent

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 Used to Be a Baba Ijebu Agent

Well, it depends on how fancy your car is. The same money some officers will collect from danfo buses is not what they will collect from someone driving a Toyota RAV 4. They pay as much as N10,000 and even more, depending on how serious the offence is.”

Where are you from?

I am from Lagos State, Lagos Island to be precise.

Please, tell us about your education?

I attended a public school in Lagos State for my secondary education and that was it, I wrote WAEC and passed through.

Please, tell us about your family?

My dad is a level 7 civil servant and works for the Lagos State Government while my mom is a tailor. My parents gave birth to six children and I am the third child. Things weren’t so smooth back then, we were just managing, even up until now. But we thank God.

Where do you live/how much is the rent?

I live in a room self-contain in one area of Lagos for which I pay N6,000 monthly rent.

How did you start working as a LASTMA officer?

Three years after secondary school and I was still doing odd jobs around like washing clothes for people. I even worked as a sales rep for Baba Ijebu. But I wanted something a little more respecting and which people would be proud of somehow, even if I could not study at university. So, my dad told me that LASTMA was recruiting. That was in 2017 and that was how I gave it a shot and here I am today.

How does the process work into being employed? 

Nothing much. You just acquire the form and fill it. A candidate should have a minimum of O’Level result or related qualification. Possession of higher qualification is also an added advantage; you get to be recruited in as a senior level officer.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Vendor Who Used to Work in Coca-Cola

Do you go through some sort of training and for how long? 

Yes, we undergo training. New officials are trained on effective traffic management within the Lagos Metropolis. Various orientation and training programmes are undertaken for LASTMA officials on traffic control and management to ensure professionalism in the discharge of their duties before they are allowed in the agency. We are also trained on the protocol of arrest, surveillance, and traffic management.

Do LASTMA officers get prosecuted for misconduct?

Yes, once you are caught and found guilty, you are ‘gone’. There are various disciplinary departments in the agency to punish any official who is found wanting in the line of duty. We have 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 it is not done through the books?

Well, it depends on how fancy your car is. The same money some officers will collect from danfo buses is not what they will collect from someone driving a Toyota RAV 4. They pay as much as N10,000 and even more, depending on how serious the offence is.

Is there some sort of ranking in the job and how does it work?

Yes, there is. Those that have university degrees are our ogas – well the majority of them. Then we that have just O’level result are the ones you mainly see on the express controlling traffic while the ogas just come in to inspect once in a while.

Have you had any funny experiences on the job?

A lot. People get to talk to you anyhow even when you are correcting them or giving them a warning. They just see it like “who is this small boy that thinks he can tell me what to do?” There was a day I stopped a car using the BRT lane but because the driver was a soldier, not only did he evade arrest, he also threatened to beat me. In fact, he even slapped me but I couldn’t do anything and my colleagues were even begging him. Things like this are what I hate on the job, a lot of people feel they are above the law.

How much do you earn? 

I am a traffic officer, so I earn N45,000 monthly.

What were you doing before you started working as a LASTMA officer?

Nothing much really, apart from the odd jobs I mentioned earlier. I did that for three years.

How many hours do you work in a day?

I resume at 7 o’clock in the morning and close at 7 o’clock in the evening. I close earlier on the weekends because we take shifts.

What’s your best day like on the job?

I think weekends, especially on Sundays when the roads aren’t so busy. I won’t have to stand for hours under the hot Lagos sun. Bros, did you notice that it has been so hot in Lagos lately, who did we offend?

How much do you spend in a day?

I get to spend about N300 daily or N500 at most. And during my working hours, some of these danfo guys just give me money for Pepsi. I don’t see it as a bribe though because I didn’t request it. They just give me from the kindness of their hearts and I have made friends with a lot of them.

What other things do you spend money on?

I am a family man so there is a lot of expenses, bills here and there – buying foodstuff at home, sending money to my siblings, and all that. It is not easy being one of the eldest sons from a poor family. They just keep draining you and you obviously can’t say no because they will see you as a bad person or selfish. Only if they understood that I am also managing myself.

For how long have you been on the job?

I joined in 2017. So, I have been on the job for close to three years now.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Policeman Who Used to Teach Further Mathematics  

Do you have savings/ how much do you save in a month? 

I always try to save N5,000 monthly. Sometimes I am not even able to save this amount because I must have spent my money on one thing or the other. We thank God for life still.

Are you married/ looking forward to marrying?

Yes, I am happily married with two kids.

Do you have plans to venture into something else apart from being a LASTMA officer?

The thing is, I don’t even bother myself thinking about this at all. I have been on the job for close to three years now and there is really not so much I have in savings. The salary is not enough, so I do not bother myself to think of venturing into something else because where would I get the money to establish? And I am definitely not going for a loan.

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