By: ROTIMI ASHER
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]aba Ibeji, a commercial transporter, who hails from Western Nigeria, owns a compact Nissan car with which he does interstate commercial transport between Oyo and Ekiti State.
On each trip, his car is overloaded with six passengers, two compacted at the front and four sandwiched at the back.
He sees nothing wrong with driving that long distance without an extra tyre. He doesn’t have one. He does not wear seat belt. Of course, two passengers at the front can’t. He struggles to change his gear, whenever he has to. Worst, on high speed, he uses his phone at will.
He has been lucky not to have front tyre burst. But a number of times, he has had rear tyre failure or blow out. And when that happens he drives on rim to a safe place, leave his passengers seemingly stranded, takes next available means of transport to nearest tyre market and shop for another imported used tyre, which usually costs N2000 to N3000, gets that fixed and continues his journey amidst passengers’ insults and complaints. But he has one thing: Good sense of humour, by which he calms down irate passengers.
I was once opportune to speak to him at Ibadan. His explanation was that no law enforcement agent can disturb him, adding that even the police and FRSC know that it is not practicable for a commercial driver to obey all traffic rules, if he is going to make profit.
I am aware there are many likes of Baba Ibeji on the highways, risking people’s lives and reducing the performance ratings of the FRSC.
On a daily basis, such lawless motorists drive pass FRSC and police checkpoints. FRSC marshals on duty, many a time, would simply watch them go. And even when they refuse to stop for check, there is hardly appropriate follow-up, such as recording their plates numbers for subsequent sanctioning.
Obvious overloading is not usually enough reason to pull up a commercial vehicle.
Many a time, FRSC Marshals seem to prefer to concentrate on private vehicles, overlooking commercial drivers, who wear no seatbelt and are obviously overloading their vehicles.
And what happens, when Marshals successfully pull up an inter-state commercial driver? The latter would alight, folding up his passengers’ manifest, which allegedly contains a sum of money, hands it over to a Marshal, who usually stays at the rear end of the vehicle. The Marshal collects the document and, in seconds, hands it back to the driver, who returns to his driving wheel and continues his journey.
Why won’t FRSC marshals charge commercial drivers for not wearing seatbelt and having no spare tyres and up to date driving licence? Or are certain traffic laws only applicable in Lagos and Abuja? For as soon as commercial drivers get close to the border of Lagos State, they wear seat belts. For they are sure that LASTMA would get them prosecuted, which is an irony, because over the years, the fear of FRSC used to be beginning of wisdom for motorists, not LASTMA.
Baba Ibeji is just one example of many lawless commercial motorists, who often expose passengers’ lives to danger with impunity.
Painful it is that, despite efforts being made by the commission to encourage staff and officers to work harder towards reducing accidents and death on our roads, the bad eggs are, rather than working as a team member, playing their own selfish and lazy game.
The Commission’s Corp Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, knows the foundation of FRSC. And I trust he won’t be pleased about the foregoing. Of course, there are lots of good and patriotic FRSC personnel out there, who would not, under any circumstance defile their personal name or that of the commission.
Notwithstanding, there is a need to caution the few who are bent on tarnishing the image that FRSC has built overt the years.
It is now time for the FRSC boss to message all, including the bad eggs with words liken to the Biblical vision of John the beloved written in the Book of Revelation, chapter 3: “…I know thy works, that thou has a name that thou livest… I have not found thy (FRSC’) works perfect…Remember how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If, therefore, thou shall not watch (those erring and lawless commercial drivers), I will come on thee as a thief(in an unmarked vehicle or disguising as a passenger in a commercial vehicle) and thou shall not know what hour I (my spies) will come upon thee.
“Thou has a few names even in…(among FRSC Marshals), which have not defiled their garments, and they shall..(be rewarded in due course). He that harth an ear, let him hear what …(the FRSC management) saith unto the…(Marshals)…”