By: SANI ABDULLAHI (Superintendent Route Commander)
As the lead agency for road safety management and administration in the country, the primary concern of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) remains safety of road users which is ensured through public enlightenment programmes, enforcement and engineering, using the Regular and Special Marshals as well as members of Road Safety Clubs. Our attention was thus drawn to the piece written by Eugene Ehahoro in the Daily Trust of Tuesday, 8 December 2015 titled, “Re-focusing FRSC for accident prevention.”
We believe that as an experienced columnist, his readers could take his comments on any subject to be a true representation of what obtains there. But having seen some flaws in his analysis in the write up, we felt the need to shed more light to keep the readers more enlightened on the activities of the FRSC. For instance, in trying to undermine what the FRSC has done over the years to reduce road traffic crashes in the country, Enahoro stated in the second paragraph of his article that, “the reason why FRSC has failed to significantly reduce the accident rate despite its phenomenal growth as an organisation isn’t hard to find.” But while the readers were anxiously expecting the reasons, he diverted into stating: “The Corps was established as a result of research work on accident prevention carried out in University of Benin,” he wrote.
“The researchers claim that the way FRSC has evolved is responsible for the continuing high accident rates. They expressed dismay that the FRSC has taken on an unnecessarily over-expanded role and practical actions to prevent accidents no longer seem to be their priority,” he added. While he continued in his analysis which did not portray him as one with sufficient knowledge about what obtains in the FRSC, what irked me and some of the readers was the fact that even an uninterested reader would know that the augments did not add up,
We may not know the interest that Mr Enahoro was pursuing, but he was obviously not fair to the FRSC and his esteemed readers by his failure to acknowledge what the Corps has done over the years in effectively managing the traffic challenges of the country, which some objective analysts have acknowledged. Let it be recalled here that the establishment of FRSC in 1988 was based on the need to contain the pervasive rate of road traffic crashes in the country, which made Nigeria a dreadful country to drive motor vehicle in.
But every discernible Nigerian knows that with its coming, FRSC has succeeded in demystifying the fatalistic beliefs which contributed to making people attribute road carnage to either the “will of God or evil spirits.” That was achieved largely through aggressive pursuit of public enlightenment programmes in combination with elements of subtle enforcement before full enforcement that brought the Corps to the era of Ticketing for offences committed. However, the realisation through studies that unless the nexus between road safety campaigns and credible licensing system were harmonised, all efforts at creating safer road environment in the country would remain futile, led to the attempt to standardise the licensing system.
Accordingly, while the state governments retain their original power as the issuing authority, they were expected to submit the records of the drivers and vehicles to the FRSC for capturing under a tripartite arrangement that led to the creation of the national database on drivers and vehicles for the country. Unfortunately, most commentators like Enahoro, would rather see the involvement of FRSC in the licensing system of the country as unnecessary.
Let us ask for instance, if it could be feasible today to effectively enforce traffic laws in Nigeria without the credible records of the drivers and vehicles that ply the nation’s roads It is evident that even a casual researcher on trends of road traffic crashes in Nigeria before the advent of the FRSC till date would have seen the trending down of the crashes over the years due to the activities of the FRSC, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged and recommended to other developing countries.
Yet, the contradiction in Enahoro’s essay were most evident when he emphasised the need for driver education as a means of controlling the crashes, but failed to acknowledged what the FRSC has done over the years to make training of drivers in recognised driving schools a condition for issuance of fresh licences under the Driving School Standardisation Program (DSSP) Ironically, while the feat is being applauded globally, some critics of the Corps would rather not give it the credit for massive investment in technology that made that possible.
It is a fact that no organisation can claim to have reached its zenith and requires no further reforms to perform better, but we wonder the type of refocusing of the FRSC that Mr Enahoro had in mind. For the avoidance of doubt, FRSC identified the menace which trucks and trailers cause on the nation’s highways and convened a national summit earlier this year to deliberate on the challenges, recommendations of which are being implemented through the ongoing retraining and recertification of the trailer and truck drivers. Furthermore, the Corps Marshal flagged off operation “Scorpion” in Lagos earlier this year to ensure compliance of drivers of articulated vehicles with minimum safety standards. FRSC has been involved in various activities that have led to the current road stability which some analysts may decide to ignore.
Some of such activities include massive deployment of patrol teams to the highways and some urban centres to manage the chaotic traffic situations that characterise urban movement. In addition, FRSC patrol teams regularly report the conditions of the roads to the National Headquarters which packages such reports to the appropriate authorities for remedial actions. And in recognition of the menace which speed cause in the country, the stakeholders in collaboration with the FRSC, resolved, after exhaustive deliberations to introduce speed limiting devices enforcement of which commences in April next year.
While the FRSC as a public institution is not averse to constructive criticism by relevant stakeholders, it would, in the interest of the public, not shy away from promptly responding to issues that could confuse the public on what the Corps stands for in justifying its establishment. That is why we take time to point out the flaws in the opinion expressed by Ehnahoro in his write up , which readers must take note of.
Sani Abdullahi, Superintendent Route Commander wrote from the FRSC National Headquarters, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja, and can be reached on email@example.com