With about 9,100 roads in Lagos State and hundreds of thousands if not millions of cars, buses, trailers, motocycles and tricycles plying the roads on a daily basis one can just imagine the chaos that will arise on the road.
Lagos is said to have a population of about 21 million as of 2014 according to the National Population Commission with about 224 vehicles per kilometer compared to a world average of 24 vehicles on the roads at every given point.
Lagosians are not known to be patient espcially when driving and are not known to tolerate another motorist that wants to abide by the traffic rules. It was worth observing the attitudes of Lagos motorists on the ‘no horn day’ that was done sometimes last year by the Lagos State Government, it was quite funny. Motorists are known to run traffic lights, never patient for any form of orderly method of motoring and always looking for the most tiny of spaces during a little hold-up to put the neck of their cars in order to bypass the other cars that are on a orderly queue, in short, Lagos Motorists are always in a hyper hurry.
A common sight is of traffic wardens trying to control the traffic, LASTMA and FRSC officers looking for traffic offenders and sights of go slows at peak periods are always a common sight on a daily basis. An average Lagosian spends a minimum of 3 hours in traffic on a daily basis commuting to and fro making it such an exhausting activity.
As a motorist on the Herbert Macauley way in Yaba axis you will really appreciate the sight of Josephine Ifeoma Okeme controlling the traffic at St. Agnes bus stop, she is a sight to behold. She is in the middle of the four way traffic junction, controlling the traffic with a smile plastered on her face and a very witty dance steps with her hands and legs going in different direction at the same time. Imagine a conductor controlling a large group of choir, but this time around at the the traffic junction with the buses, cars, bikes and tricycles as the choir and the traffic light as her sound. You will definitely burst into a very big smile if it’s your first time of plying that route and seeing her, she is a real stress relief and a sight to behold, a bundle of energy and passion all roll into one.
Meet Mrs Josephine Ifeoma Okeme, a mother of five who hails from Kwale in Delta State. Born in Lagos State and a police officer for the past 23 years, Mrs Okeme has been directing traffic for the past five years at the St. Agnes Bus stop on Herbert Macaulay Street in Yaba.
On her style of controlling the traffic in respect of her movement, the dance steps, she said it has always been her style from the very beginning. “I have always been an athlete from Primary school, and I joined the police force through sports. I use to run 400m and 800m for the police force and won a couple of medals doing that. I love controling the traffic as it helps me keep fit and always on my feet,” says Mrs Okeme.
In a male dominated field, it is amazing to know that Mrs Okeme is an Inspector, not a junior ranking officer and she has been an inspector for four years now and that has not deter her from going on the streets to control the traffic. “It is the junior ranking officers that ought to be controlling the traffic and the senior officers’ seats back to direct them on what to do. I cannot just seat down and be telling someone to do this and that when everywhere is congested. I like what I do and that is why I am still doing it,” she says.
Her effort at bringing orderliness in the community did not go unnoticed and as a result she was awarded the ‘icon of the community’ by Our Lady of Apostles school on March 13th, 2015 and she has been approached by the St. Dominic Catholic Church, Yaba that they will like to honour her in June, 2015 for a job well done.
On how it has been juggling been a mother and a career officer together she says “It’s been pretty challenging but I place my job first, because without this job i won’t be able to take care of my kids and assist in the home front.” She advised the younger police officer to be focused in what they do and take whatever they do seriously as the sky is their limits with that kind of attitude.