The menace of stray animals on any major roads in Lagos State can cause terrifying distraction that can lead to serious road accidents. The threat of stray animals become real because Lagos is notorious for various animals wandering about major streets and even highways as if they are part of humanity hustling around the town seeking daily survival. In fact, the practice in the state has been that animals are left to fend for themselves, and as such they move about unrestricted looking for what to eat. They usually return to their bases in the evening. It is only when they do not return home that their owners begin to make frantic efforts about their whereabouts.
The result is that different kinds of animals, such as rams, goats, sheep, dogs, cats and cows, among others, move about in search of food without any limitation.
There have been cases where some of these animals caused accidents, particularly when they suddenly appear from nowhere crossing the major roads and streets roads and run into fast-moving vehicles. Such situations have often led to the death of many in accidents while other victims have sustained various degrees of injuries in the process.
In the case of rams, they move in groups and if motorists are not watchful, they can ram into them, and in case brake failure, multiple accidents could happen.
There was a particular case in Agege part of the metropolis when an oncoming vehicle nearly somersaulted while trying to maneuver an obstruction caused by a group of rams.
Thus, the menace these animals constitute on the roads is life-threatening, which can make any responsible government to look into the issue to prevent any unfortunate incident. But what is sadly obtainable
is that many successive governments did not consider this issue to guide against ugly incidents that could result from it.
It was therefore shocking when the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives embarked on the raiding of these stray animals with the view to ensuring that their owners take adequate care of them to prevent them from constituting problems for the residents on the road.
With raids, according to the Commissioner, Chief Kolapomoye Ajiboso, Lagos residents will soon heave a sigh of relief from the menace of stray animals, as the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola is determined to tackle the menace of stray animals head on.
He said that the raiding exercise became imperative because the animals have continued to constitute major risk, leading to accidents and obstructions to traffic on the roads.
"We have commenced raiding of stray animals to rid Lagos metropolis of animals that have constituted major highway risks, causing accidents and obstruction to traffic flow," he stated.
Ajiboso however explained that the government is not out to punish or witch-hunt the residents, but rather wants to ensure a decent and safe environment for the people.
He said owners of animals seized have 72 hours to claim them from the Nigerian Police Mounted Troop Zonal Headquarters, Ikeja, on Bank Anthony Road without which they would be deposed off to prevent their return to the roads.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Dr Charles Ugomuoh, who led the Animal Control Unit of the Police Force, stated that the police are ready to work with Lagos State Government to get rid of these animals in Lagos metropolis.
He added that animals not claimed within three days would be disposed off. The exercise, according to the commissioner, is a continuous one, as the relevant law enforcement agencies will randomly comb major streets in Lagos to get rid of such animals.
Ajiboso said his ministry has embarked on enlightenment campaigns through media organisations and public enlightenment activities warning the public of government’s intention to rid Lagos metropolis of stray animals.
In another development, the ministry has also declared that it is set to take giant strides towards sustainable development of artisans in fisheries to realise the full potential of the state in marine fisheries.
Ajiboso, who made this known at a stakeholders’ meeting on Artisan Fisheries Development, said government is set to develop and upgrade the fisheries potential of the state with the establishment of pilot fishing towns and six fish replenishment stations across the state to replenish water bodies, thus ensuring that fishermen have a sustainable catch.
Ajiboso assured that fishermen cooperative associations will be strengthened with various measures taken to facilitate extension of micro credit to fishermen even as he noted that fisheries regulations will be enforced to safeguard the stock and ensure rational exploitation of fisheries resources.
The commissioner identified high cost of fishing inputs, inconsistent policy on fisheries and destruction of fish breeding grounds and ecosystem as some of the banes on fish production in the state.
He also identified prevalent poverty in fishing communities leading to migration of youths to urban areas in search of greener pastures as another factor.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Olusegun Onamuti, observed that artisan fisheries sub-sector remains the backbone of fish production in Nigeria, contributing an annual average of about 80 per cent of the total fish production.
He noted, however, that the sub-sector is plagued by a number of problems, which include inadequate fish preservation facilities at fish landing sites, depletion of fish stocks and poor marketing resulting in reduced revenue.
He said the purpose of the meeting is to deliberate on appropriate strategies to address the aforementioned problems so as to achieve increased fish production, sustain the livelihood for artisan fishermen, increase income generation and reduce rural urban drift.
He enjoined participants to make meaningful contributions through sharing of experience towards the redevelopment and restructuring of artisan fisheries in Lagos State.
Dignitaries present at the workshop included the President of Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Deaconess Foluke Areola; a retired Director of Fisheries, Mr. Olatunji Bakare; royal fathers from Ikorodu, Badagry, Lagos Island and Epe Division, directors and heads of parastatals in the ministry, local government executives and representatives of micro. credit banks and commercial banks as well as artisan fishermen and fish processors.