President Muhammadu Buhari has a Christmas gift every Nigerian expect him to release. This gift is not in monetary terms; it is not pay rise for any category of workers; it is not employment opportunity for any seemingly marginalized section of the country; it is not for the expulsion of the growing killings and malpractices associated with elections in the country; it is not about an issue raised by any political party in the country.
This gift has taken its toll on Nigerians: the low and the mighty; the rich and the poor; the educated and uneducated; businessmen and civil servants. In fact, this much needed gift is desired because not providing it even by previous administrations in the country, have even left people maimed, killed and even entire household wiped off.
President Buhari needs to give marching orders to the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DTRS) otherwise known as the VIO, as well as other para-military agencies plying their trade on the nation’s roads, whether inaugurated by the federal, state or local government areas, to take their job more seriously. These agencies have been known to focus their attention more on revenue generation to the detriment of their primary assignment which is to safeguard life and property of the citizenry, who daily ply the nation’s roads, whether federal, state of local highways.
The recklessness with which motor vehicle operators violate simple traffic regulation is alarming and has sent hundreds of people to the great beyond. Our hospitals are today populated by several people in dire need or orthopedic services primarily due to road accidents. And as things are, avoidable road crashes would escalate rather than abate even in the oncoming 2020 as a result of the lethargic attitude of operators of the agencies charged with maintaining sanity on our roads.
The FRSC, VIO and the other marshals have been found to be more interested in revenue generation rather than on the safety of the citizenry. For instance, these agencies would turn a blind eye to the numerous public officers who daily break simply traffic regulation of obeying the traffic light signals or hand signals where there is no functional traffic light. Private individuals are today blaring siren and are found to use such to knock off other road users or breach traffic regulation, yet the FRSC and VIO operatives watch these happen helplessly.
Commercial vehicle operators and their “Kabu-Kabu” counterparts now see nothing wrong block off roads or converting any road junction to illegal motor part, especially at city centers. Some motor vehicle operators and more importantly, the KEKE NAPEP and commercial motorcycle operators, otherwise known as “Okada” riders, have no modicum of respect for traffic regulation. These operators beat traffic light with reckless abandon, they do not observe the least safety prescription and are only seen unabashedly giving out dirty N50 notes to law enforcement agencies that accost them and these officers in turn so shamelessly collect such crunch notes without any shame whatsoever.
The worst is that these FRSC/VIO operatives shamelessly convert terribly damaged portions of our highway to toll collection centers, where they shamelessly ask commuters to produce Road Worthiness Papers on roads that are clearly not Vehicle Worthy. Who should be reprimanded? The vehicle driver or the government that have allowed our roads to gradually become death traps?
While the debilitating acts of bribery and corruption along our roads seem not have any solution and in fact, have been worsening by the day, The AUTHORITY is of the opinion that since it appears the FRSC and VIO are more interested in revenue generation, they can make billions of Naira through appropriate enforcement of road traffic regulation defaults.
With ICT and modern technology, motorists who breach traffic regulation need not be pursued, but should be tracked and handed over violation tickets. If we should use the level of such unbridled road traffic violation in Abuja, the nation’s capital territory as an example, there is no doubt that those marshals who ask people irrelevant and sometimes, nauseating questions aimed at extorting vehicle drivers can make more money for the state, by the simple deployment of ICT and other technology platforms (not the equivalent of the dubious/failed Abuja CCTV project) to track road traffic offenders and subsequently make humongous amount of money for their agencies since they are in the race to make money.
If we should track private vehicles blaring sirens or who affixed flashing light points on their vehicles, or police, military or other law enforcement vehicle drivers who drive against traffic or who overload official vehicles, or people who drive with foreign number plates affixed to their vehicles, or those who fail to input directional indicator lights while veering into road intersections, or people who make telephone calls while driving, etc, billions of Naira would be fetched in the process.
However in carrying out this assignment, there is no need to race after any such traffic violator. The vehicle plate numbers of such violator is enough to track such vehicle and do appropriate ticketing, while enforcement should be done in a mature manner or at the point of license renewal, by either the owner of such vehicle or the drivers of such vehicle.
Nigerians yearn for sanity on our roads in 2020 and the best gift President Buhari can give to them is to sign an Executive Order to this effect, since it has now become fashionable and does not require any legislative concurrence, to do so. Carnage on our roads are a very serious matter and everything must be done to reduce the occurrence, especially those that could be avoided. There can be no better Christmas gift to Nigerians than a proclamation outlawing impunity on our roads.