[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the workshop for the Driving School Operators in Nigeria gets under way, the Federal Government has tasked the operators of the Driving Schools in the country on the need to maintain high standards in their operations in the collective efforts to create sanity on the nation’s highways.
The Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Dr Habibat Lawal stated this while declaring open the National Workshop For Driving School Operators in Nigeria at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services in the Office of the SGF, Dr Ugo Roy, she stressed that the workshop couldn’t have come at a more auspicious time than now when the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as the lead agency charged with the responsibility of ensuring safer road environment in Nigeria is engaged in reforms aimed at restoring the integrity of the drivers’ licence. Dr Habibat cited Section (5f) of the FRSC Establishment Act 2007 and sections 33, 34 and 45 of the National Road Traffic Regulation, 2012 as the relevant legal sources of the FRSC\s powers to regulate the activities of the Driving Schools in the country.
According to her, to ensure effective implementation of the laws, the FRSC introduced the Driving School Standardization Programme (DSSP) in 2007 with the aim of sanitizing the operations of the schools and evolvement of uniform standards for the operators in order to improve the integrity of the Nigeria Drivers Licence. She added that prior to the introduction of the Driving School Standardization Programme, training of drivers was being done informally with no enforceable operating standards for the driving school operations, thus making supervision and enforcement of the rules difficult.
“Furthermore, the existing driving schools were operating with inadequate facilities and untrained instructors which contributed to increased rate of road traffic crashes and avoidable deaths and life threatening injuries,” she stated.
The SGF called on the operators of the Driving Schools to ensure compliance with the standards set by the FRSC through the Driving School Standardization Programme and join hands with the Corps in the collective determination to restore the integrity of the driver’s licence and sanity on the nations’ highways.
In his keynote address at the occasion, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola who was represented by Engineer Anietie Umana of the Ministry, commended the leadership of the FRSC for its commitment to issues of road safety, saying there has been immense awareness on road usage since the establishment of the Corps some years back. The Minister called on the driving school operators to show diligence in the operations of their schools to avoid a situation where some applicants could cut corners in obtaining the driving school certificate which is a necessary document for processing the new driver’s licence.
He assured members of the public that his Ministry remains committed to creating adequate road infrastructure to facilitate free and safer movement of people and goods on the highways. Babatunde Fashola also stressed that the Federal Government is committed to issues of intermodal transportation system aimed at easing pressures on the roads and making roads more convenient for users.
The Minister further assured Management of the FRSC that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing would continue to collaborate with the Corps in the area of enforcing traffic rules and regulations in the collective efforts to bring succor to road users.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi disclosed that the workshop was being organised in continuation of the reforms being carried out by the Corps to create efficiency, standards and integrity in the licensing system of the country. According to him, the establishment of the Driving School Standardisation Programme was consequent upon the launch of the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) in 2007, with a view to creating standards in the operations of fleet and driving schools. The Corps Marshal added that in subsequent reforms carried out by the Corps towards achieving better results, the driving school portal was developed, upgraded and linked to the FRSC portal to make their operations more effective and easily supervised for sanctioned against violations.
To this end, he said 29 of the driving schools in the country have so far been sanctioned for violating certain standards and vowed that the Corps would sustain its commitment to efficiency, integrity and standards in the driving schools operations as well as the licensing system of the country. Oyeyemi restated the earlier policy of psychological evaluation of violators of certain traffic offences enunciated by the Corps, saying the action was not to stigmatise anybody but to serve as deterrence to those with the tendency to violate traffic offences without consideration to safety of their lives and other road users.
The Corps Marshal called for cooperation of members of the public for the success of the policy, saying the FRSC will not sit aloof to watch some people create chaos on the roads through avoidable traffic crashes that result in death and life threatening injuries.
As part of the Workshop, a technical session with relevant topics on areas of driving school operations and management was packaged for Resource Persons including the Corps Marshal who delivered a paper on the topic: “Driving School Standardisation Programme (DSSP) and Driving School Operations: Benefits and Challenges.”
The one day workshop had in attendance relevant stakeholders from the Military, paramilitary and civil society organisations with full participation of operators of Driving Schools from across the 36 states of the Federation including the FCT with a plan of action to be issued at the end of the programme.