Babajide Sanwo-Olu

By Rasak Musbau

The establishment of Lagos Traffic Radio in 2012 by the then Babatunde  Raji Fashola Administration was applauded by Lagosians especially as it opened up a new vistas in the management of traffic in the  state of aquatic splendour. This lofty idea which stemmed from the exposure and experience of the former governor during his visits outside the country was generally seen as a home grown solution to the peculiar traffic situation in the state.

Accordingly, it is part of the holistic approach at ensuring traffic decongestion on our roads by providing traffic updates to Lagosians so that they can make rational and informed decisions about their daily movements in order to reduce travel time on the road, reduce stress and ultimately enhanced productivity.

Ever since, the station has been implementing part of its mandate of providing traffic information and travel advisory on all modes of transportation particularly on roads since 95% of human movement is done via roads. That is why emphasis is placed on the provision of traffic information and travel advisory on roads at initial period even till now with the assistance from LASTMA and FRSC officials..

Today, Traffic Radio has become a household name in Lagos, an “oracle” that commuters regularly consult before stepping out. As the station keeps on evolving, the baton of leadership changed towards the end of last year allowing new breath, fresh ideas and innovations.  On August 22, 2018, Tayo Akanle became the General Manager of the Station, following the statutory retirement of Yinka Adagun from the service.

One of the critical gaps identified by the new leadership was the Station’s poor online presence. The dire need to put the station in proper online prospective informed the re-invigoration and re-energizing of the official social media platforms as tried and tested social media strategies were adopted.

This led to an appreciable increase in organic Likes/Followers on its social media platforms within a short period. For instance, in August 2018, the official Facebook page had about 4,000 Likes but has now increased to over 20,000, a 400% increase.

Also, the redirection of its online radio streaming platforms through the official website and Mobile Application were steps taken to make the station more visible. The station has now connected with more people, birthed a multi-platforms window for information dissemination and also become more engaging.

The online traction generated through these deliberate moves gave the station a new online pedestal in a competitive radio community, achieving a strong online presence ever since.

In view of the need to expand the scope of the station beyond the provision of traffic information on roads alone, the new leadership came up with a new initiative which is within the ambit of the mandate by commencing the provision of traffic information on other modes of transportation such as waterway movement, Train and Flight schedules including shipping position.

This much is revealed in the editorial of The Nation Newspaper on Wednesday, February 13, 2019: “To its credit, Lagos Traffic Radio has not been lured into complacency by the success it has recorded thus far. Rather, the new management of the station has come up with a new and most commendable initiative to extend its service beyond providing information and guidance to road users. The radio now commenced the dissemination of information on maritime and shipping positions as port schedule as well as airline and train time schedules”

The idea behind this initiative is to expose commuters to the workability of the modes especially on waterways movement of Ferries, create the necessary awareness and ultimately decongest the roads.

In terms of human capacity development, the station’s leadership is working on new strategies to develop and update the competence of its personnel. This informed the decision to hold the maiden management retreat from 6th – 8th December, 2018 with the theme “Reinvigorating the Brand in a competitive market”. It was conceived in view of the need to review and assess the station’s business process towards becoming more efficient and effective.

Significantly, the retreat opened the station to new prospects as it becomes obvious that giving traffic updates hitherto at every 15 minutes throughout the day cannot subsist, given the new reality of increase in vehicular movement. Hence, the resort to 10 minutes traffic updates at interval.

Coming on the heel of the success of the maiden management retreat, another one was organized for all staff with the theme: “Re-energizing the Workforce for Improved Productivity”. The idea was to share the redefined vision, mission statement and core values of the station with all staff.

In order not to allow distractions that may impede the work flow  at ensuring the delivery of its core mandate to commuters, the station reviewed its advertisement policy and concluded not to take adverts such as live appearances on Forex trading, online business and religious jingles amongst other.

The Station’s flagship programmes such as ‘Your Side Mirror’’, “Lunch Time Waka’’ and Bonsenloo have continued to grow in leap and bounds. Other programmes are still in the pipeline while traffic education will soon be introduced in response to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s recommendation during the 4th Lagos Traffic Lecture Series.

Other new grounds being explored include the introduction of Mobile Courts updates, propagation of the Executive Order of His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and filing of live reports during major incidents on roads among others.

In order to access more traffic information , the station is exploring other sources of information such as sharing of motorists travel experiences, Google Traffic Map, social events travel advisory and a host of others.

The successful hosting of the 4th Lagos Traffic Radio Lecture Series whose theme was “Lagos Beyond Roads, The Intermodal Transport Option attended by dignitaries such as The Governor of Lagos State ably represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat, former Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr.. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN and Managing Director, of Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA), Senator Olurunimbe Mamora amongst others was a reflection of purposeful direction of where next the station is going.

As a testimony to its numerous giant strides, the station has won several awards from many credible organizations. Recently, station became the Best Radio Station award in Promoting Transportation and Logistics in Nigeria during the Transportation and Logistics Excellence Award at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The current administration in the State under the able Leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has particularly been quite supportive of the station in diverse ways. One is not really surprised by this, considering Governor Sanwo-Olu’s firm commitment to addressing transportation and traffic management challenges in the State. But then, the Radio Station would further require assistance from the state government, especially in terms of provision of basic infrastructure such as cameras at key points alongside some traffic flow censoring system to strengthen the integrity and credibility of the service.

Undoubtedly, Lagos Traffic Radio has justified the argument that effectiveness and power of radio in the present digital age can never diminished. Although it might be difficult to completely eliminate road congestion in a burgeoning mega city like Lagos, initiatives such as Traffic Radio and others could greatly help in mitigating its effect.

-Razaq is of the Features unit in the Ministry of Information and Strategy