It saddles the heart of any academics when information needed for research purposes are neither available nor accessible, especially when it involves a body of intellectuals having interests in a social problem-solving organization like Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). Permit me to recall our attention to the fact that LASTMA do not only shoulder the responsibilities of road and rail control of vehicular movement and enforcement of traffic laws, it also plays vital roles in dissemination of information to road users on traffic situations, as well as enlightenment and sensitization of road users on traffic laws, making them acquaint with the implications for its obstructions. With all these quality functions of the agency, it baffles my heart to discover that data on vital cases occurring within the agency are not accessible to by the members of the public? Vital cases, including numbers of rescued incidences/vehicles, records of reported and treated incidences, hazards encountered by the agency’s members of staff, and welfare treatment rendered to staff involved in public assaults.
A learned colleague was planning to write his postgraduate dissertation on level of performance of LASTMA between 2014 and 2017, but there was a “no go area” when he got to rescue department; library department at the headquarter; department of planning, research, and statistics; and the department of command and control, to confirm if data required for his dissertation could be made available and accessible to him. What initially prompted his quest for knowledge on LASTMA level of performance was based on what he read on Vanguard Newspaper that, sometimes around 2014, Lagos State was listed among the cities with worst traffic congestion until recently, precisely in the late 2016, when the City was named one of the best cities with free flow of traffic. He therefore found it as a mere postulation that this improvement could have being as a result of systemic changes, ranging from administrative reshuffle within the agency, employment of new officers amongst other initiatives of the state government. Thus, he found it pertinent to look for facts and figures on what brought about the outstanding improvement, but he was forced to change his project topic due to the problem of unavailability of data needed.
It is important to disclose here that every well-balanced organization would try everything within its competency to keep records of its vital events or cases intact, available and accessible. This is because records management does not only play functional role, it also serves the professionals and intellectuals. Borrowing from the theoretical perspective of record management, a mind striking and inevitable importance of record management could be traceable to Functional context, Professional context, and intellectual context. Records management serves a firm or other organization, it serves as retrieval-based information system, and finally, Posner (1940) and Walker (1989) were of the opinion that intellectuals do not joke with archival activities because archives serve as knowledge banks. The salient question here is “of what benefit is an organization to intellectuals when its activities could not be studied for future predictions of occurrence, as well as proffer reliable solution if such occurrence repeats itself in the nearest future?”
Formal/proper documentation of vital cases is needed to be imbibed for many reasons. Apart from the fact that it could be one of the cogent factors for measuring the effectiveness and performance of LASTMA as a body, it does not speak well of the agency that researchers across the globe could not approach the body for the retrieval of data on vital cases. These vital cases records would not only to a high extent measure the performance of LASTMA officials on the field; it would also help the organization or agency and higher authority to perfect plan for these officers in areas including welfare, systematic discharge of duties, and proper planning on the agency itself.
Departments of library; Planning, Research and Statistics; Rescue; Information; as well as Command and Control need to be strengthened, not only in numbers of staff, but most importantly in terms of proper knowledge inculcated on documentation of these vital cases in question. In other words, there should be proper synergy between these departments and those working on the field, including the principal officers, making a formal report on incidences within each area of zonal jurisdiction.
Head of zones and other principal officers within the zonal jurisdiction are capable of gathering information on hazard encountered by the officers in their zones. These data shall be collated with pictorial evidence, location of occurrence, date, other people involved, steps taken, and most importantly the circumstances that led to the injury. These data shall be gathered by all the zonal heads, and then afterwards taken to library for proper documentations of both the hardcopy and softcopy.
Records of reported incidences as well as treated ones are not only to be kept by the command and control department because having only a copy of it could jeopardize the efforts of the organization on the availability of such information. Soft and hardcopies should also be forwarded to library for proper care.