FRSC Rivers Command is Nigeria’s 3rd best - Kumapayi FeaturedWritten by Asomeji Joseph
CC Andrew A. Kumapayi, the sector commander, Federal Road Safety Commission, Rivers State Command, in this interview with our correspondent, Joseph Asomeji, speaks through the public education officer of the command, DRC, Michael S. John, on a number of issues bothering on the activities of road safety, challenges, core value and gains of the command. Excerpts:
The speed limit device recently introduced by your commission has generated a lot of reaction from the public. Is it targeted at commercial buses and taxis? If yes, why only the commercial vehicles?
Well, the speed limiter is an initiative of the Federal Government through the road safety corps which is the lead agency for road safety management in the country and it is born out of long statistic records of road transport. Statistics has shown that speed is a major factor in road transport crash and in an environment where we have a lot attitudinal problem, where our attitude to life is poor and coming from long years of continuous public enlightenment, stakeholders engagements, two to one discussions, enforcement on the road, still this record keeps increasing. Although we have recorded remarkable reduction over the last five years, the continuous record of road transport crashes required something more urgent to be done; that was what brought about the need for installation of speed limiter device and this engagement with major stakeholders such as the Standard Organization of Nigeria, Nigeria Automatic Buying and Development Council and stakeholders in the transport sectors, the National Union of Road Transport Workers, National Association of Road Transport Owners. We also met with the National Union of Petroleum and National Gas Workers (NUPENG); these are major stakeholders in the transport sector in the country. Of course we have also been engaging fleet transport operators, those who convey people from one state to the other- all these people we have been engaging them since 2004 on the installation of speed limit device. The first date that was given was 2014 but due to some engagements, people pleaded for more enlightenment. There was need to get people to be aware that speed is a problem and to install a speed limiter will cut off problems. The installation of the device has taken four different past governments until recently in April, the president gave a matching order that time; again, the stakeholders came up and said ‘please allow us some more time for them to go back to their own organization, let’s engage our own people to be aware.’ Finally… the corps has commenced the installation of the speed limiter for commercial vehicles as a pilot scheme because majority of the vehicles that are involved in road crashes are commercial vehicles, vehicles run by fleet operators, company vehicles which are running around just for general goods and services delivery that involve human persons or live stock or even in every sector that has to do with transportation. We had problem with different cars, petroleum tankers that were involved in crash, with a good number of persons killed, burnt to death, property burnt, houses and other damages incurred.
Here you also put into consideration that Private vehicles also speed?
Yes, private vehicles also involve but the record is that commercial vehicle is higher than that of private ones. Take for instance, you bought a vehicle, you are a journalist and said let me diversify a little bit just for extra income and you buy a vehicle and give it out. That man who is running that bus will not manage it the way you will like to run it because you know that is your own investment, so we have more of the private owners being more responsible towards traffic compared to commercial drivers and officials. Like as I said, the traffic crash record has it that more commercial vehicles get crash than the private owners.
Have you considered a situation where armed robbers are after commercial vehicles with speed limiter?
My brother, such situation happens. Of most crashes we have recorded, very few, if not very minimal number occurs as a result of them being chased by armed robbers. Majority of the crises are as a result of human negligence on the part of the drivers. Our drivers are not properly knowledgeable in driving. Somebody learns how to turn the steering, they will give him key to drive. Even as little as changing lane, as little as seat belt a lot of our people are not informed.
What is the level of compliance on the said belt and how has your command educated the people?
Well, the compliance on seat belt is above average. If you go round, you will find out that we have a little above the 50 percent compliance which is a good record but even if we have one percent not compliance to seat belt use, on a very good day, that can lead to a serious crash, so we are more in having everybody involved in the use of seat belt. In terms of enlightenment, the corps has been doing a lot here in Rivers State from park to park. We have good electronic media relationship. We engage stakeholders and of course our enforcement with people who are found not to be on their seat belt on the road. Why we acknowledge that a good number of road users make use of their seat belt, the other percentage… we’re constantly following personally. For us, we take the non-use of seat belt as a dangerous offence against traffic, because as far as I’m concerned the consciousness of the road safety begins with the use of the seat belt. Other things just follow because you know that the seat belt will protect you from death or prevent serious injuries. The other 50 percent is assured if you must drive carefully.
What measure has your command put in place to ensure that people don’t patronize touts in the issuance of driver's licence?
Well, part of the measure we have put in place is constant enlightenment and engagement of the public on the process involved in issuance of the drivers’ license. We have, within the last two to three years opened centres for drivers’ licenses. In 2014, we established 3 more centres and these centres now base on their location as we have to encourage people as much as possible to visit the centres. You also know that a lot of companies in Rivers State and some individuals find it difficult to visit the centres. Everything that concerns the road safety corps, the third party must be involved in helping you to go and get the license and most of the time we don’t even bother to go and check or do a second check. On the process taken in getting the drivers license…it’s not advisable to bring anything that looks like a license and just accept when our men check on the road and discover that it is fake documents. People should learn how to go to our network centre and get enrolled. The centre one is at old Aba Road; centre two at Board of Internal Revenue Office; centre three at Rumuomasi; centre four at Emenike by Ikwerre Road; centre five at Eleme (IBRS). We have plan to have one at Ahoada; we are just waiting for the International Revenue to open the office, the machines are available.
Whose duty is it to check vehicle particulars?
Well, on this issue, the Federal Road Safety has its mandate. The Nigerian Police Force has its mandate; even the Army have their own mandate. In one way or the other, all these mandates are geared toward the good of the society. The FRSC ensures that there is serious engagement. The police ensures that there is internal security and the civil defence and other agencies at one point or the order. This mandate of checking depending on job prescription- while I will not go into the argument that FRSC is only saddled with the responsibility, the police has the mandate to also check.
If free flow of traffic is part of FRSC job, can you score yourself at the Rumuokoro Roundabout?
Well, on the Rumuokoro Round-about, we have stationed vehicles and had some talks with the Rumuokoro police station. We have some relationship and part of what we did was to advise the Federal Ministry of Works because some sections at the roundabout were bad. Apart from the traffic, the illegal trading along the road contributes to the heap at the traffic on the road, so that has been taken care of. Continually, we were there and we engage the Obio-Akpor council. To a large extent, we’re doing our bid. That our men are not present at the roundabout does not mean that we have shortage of man power, but it’s just that the Rumuokoro police division drafted their men on traffic to the junction.
Another thing is that offices and business places are too close to the road, lack of parking space also constitute the problems. There is no official parking space so most of the cars are parked on the roads to go to their different places of their transactions. The local government council has a lot to do; we also advised that the Rumuokoro roundabout requires a fly over.
Are your men free from issue of 'marketing on the road', that is giving and collecting bribe?
Why I cannot vouch for the individuals, I can vouch for the system. As a system, we put in such a manner that we are professionally acceptable. The corps forbids any form of sharp practices in the course of carrying out the activities. For the records, any staff found with extortion from innocent road users will lead to dismissal. I think if there is any agency of government that is over time alive to its responsibility, it is the FRSC. If a road user is apprehended in one offence or the other, the officer has two major mandates: either you educate the person and let go or you educate and book him but to say pay money for the offence is not part of our men.
Finally, what has been your achievement since you assumed office in Rivers command?
Well, since the coming of the sector commander, CC Andrew Kumapayi, we have recorded a lot of successes and if you look at the core mandate of FRSC, stakeholders’ collaboration and consultations have been going on. Also, monthly and quarterly meetings with the stakeholders in transport sectors. Our enlightenment has been on in the air, motor parks, engagement everywhere has increased, our visit to churches and mosques and of course we also have robust collaboration and relationship with the state government. The rehabilitation of roads in the state capital were also part of the advice of the commission. We are also happy to say that the governor himself has taken much liking to the FRSC because we have been offering a lot of advice and technical support, For instance, the traffic light that you see, the corps were part of the committee to draw the road map for the establishment of motor parks. Of course, to even crown it all, recently the command was rated the 3rd best command nationwide in terms of achievement. That is a remarkable improvement in our enforcement and engagement with everybody that is necessary for the road safety and we will not relent in that, believing that that the business of checking our road is a business of everyone, for us as an agency, that is our calling.