The Nigerian Medical Association and National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria have expressed concerns about the recent threat by Police to arrest ambulance operators who ply BRT lane or ride against traffic in Lagos.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said he had noticed the continual disregard for traffic regulations and nonchalant attitude of ambulance drivers.
The statement, which was signed by Deputy Police spokesperson, Matilda Ngbaronye and made available to PUNCH HealthWise, described the action of the ambulance operators as being in total disregard to his earlier sensitization on the need to adhere to state traffic laws.
“I hereby warn that on no account should ambulances with or without patients drive against traffic or on the BRT lane.
“Recall that ambulances are allowed the use of sirens and revolving lights to enable them manoeuvre their way in traffic gridlocks
“The impoundment of ambulances who flout traffic rules have started and it will continue non-stop,” Odumosu stated in the press release.
He, however, said that ambulance operators with genuine emergency should seek and obtain approval from the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority before venturing into the BRT lanes.
According to him, the action of erring health care providers who are fond of using BRT lanes and flouting traffic rules with ambulances negates Section 111 of Lagos State Traffic Law 2018.
He reiterated that the Nigerian Police would not fold its arm and watch the law being violated with impunity by members of the public.
Reacting to the threat, immediate past chairman of the NMA (Lagos chapter), Dr. Saliu Oseni, said the body would deliberate on the issue and make its position known soon.
“I am hearing this for the first time. That cannot be. If that be the case, the NMA may have to take it up and challenge them. I will discuss it with the NMA chairman before we take a position. That cannot make sense anywhere in the whole world,” he said.
When contacted, Secretary of Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Ime Okon, also expressed the same view.
“The NMA has not discussed it yet. I am sure there could be a concession somewhere,” he said.
However, NARD President, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said that if any ambulance driver deliberately breaks the traffic law, he should be punished.
“I agree with the Police. I believe if anybody errs, he should be punished. You don’t use the medical profession to break the law.
“The laws are made to make life easier for us. But when you start flouting the law under the guise of carrying a patient when you are not, you should be punished.
“If an ambulance driver has an emergency at any stage, he can walk up to a policeman, soldier or LASTMA official and tell them he has a genuine emergency. He could be rendered all the help he can get. That’s what they stand for, even abroad.
“But some of us here always want to have our way because of our status as policeman, soldier or ambulance operator.
“Every Nigerian — whether here or in Diaspora — should learn to respect the law at all time. That is NARD’s position on it,” he said.
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