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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Why Kaduna state ban FRSC from their roads

A meeting of the Kaduna State Security Council presided over by Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i last week barred the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) from erecting checkpoints in Kaduna metropolis and other urban centres in the state. The order prohibits FRSC personnel from stopping vehicles for inspection on state roads. A statement signed by the governor’s spokesman Samuel Aruwan said FRSC officials’ indiscriminate stopping of vehicles had been responsible for avoidable traffic congestion and accidents in the metropolis. The state government advised FRSC officials to focus more on safety on highways such as the Kaduna-Abuja highway. 

The Kaduna State Security Council said it took the decision following series of complaints by residents that FRSC officials were acting in ways reminiscent of the VIO. The state government had earlier scrapped VIO following widespread complaints at their disrespect for the public and penchant for extortion. Aruwan’s statement said FRSC’s services are required more on the highways where over speeding, overloading, dangerous and reckless driving need to be checked. The mounting of checkpoints on township roads demonstrates a penchant for extortion more than a commitment to ensuring safety on the roads. 

The statement also recalled that in 2016, Federal Government acceded to Kaduna State government’s request and re-designated Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway (the Western Bye-pass in Kaduna) and Ahmadu Bello Way as state roads. This was sequel to complaints by residents that FRSC officials created needless traffic gridlocks on these roads. 

Sector commander of FRSC’s Kaduna State Command Francis Udoma reacted to the Kaduna State Security Council’s resolution by saying the corps would comply with the order. He however said mobile courts on the roads and the enforcement of speed limiter were mistaken as checkpoints and exploitation by some residents of the state. Udoma argued that speed violation remains a major challenge and that installation of speed limiter in vehicles would reduce to the barest minimum the rate of accidents on roads. He said, “We have mobile courts, not checkpoints.” 

The statutory functions of FRSC, which was established in 1988, include making the highways safe for motorists and other roads users, recommending necessary infrastructure and devices to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways, regulating the use of sirens, flashers and beacon lights on vehicles other than ambulances and vehicles belonging to the armed forces and other para-military agencies, conducting researches into causes of motor accidents and methods of forestalling them, and preventing or minimizing accidents on the highways. FRSC’s blocking of traffic with needless checkpoints especially on township roads is clearly inconsistent with its mandate. 

An institution charged with the responsibility of safety on roads should not be seen to be part of any obstructions on the roads, which it has a duty to ensure become accident-free. The several complaints by residents of Kaduna which resulted in the decision of the State Security Council to ban FRSC officials from its roads indicate public dissatisfaction with the agency. The decision implicitly signifies that the FRSC is losing credibility among Nigerians. Although Kaduna is the first state to ban FRSC from its roads, there are worries in several other states over similar obstructions caused by FRSC officials on state roads. 

The same reasons that prompted FRSC’s ban from Kaduna roads have noticeably become the common experience of road users in many states of the federation. The ban imposed on the FRSC in Kaduna should be a warning to its authorities to induce a change in attitude in the discharge of their official duties. Otherwise, it is likely to suffer the same ban in other states where road users are daily getting frustrated with its operations. FRSC is a very important agency; it should not allow its men to deviate from its core mandate of ensuring safety on the roads and instead go off on some personal pursuits. 

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