By Salihu Dantata Mahmud
The rate at which motorists violate traffic rules in the FCT was at alarming level before the putting in place of the FCT committee against traffic violation.
World over, violation of traffic rules attracts penalties ranging from fines to lighter imprisonment. In Abuja for instance most accidents that occur within the city center and metropolis are as a result of recklessness, beating of traffic light, non-adherence to cautionary methods, drunkenness and also violation of one way.
The Muhammed Musa Bello administration constituted a ministerial enforcement team against traffic violation in order to enforce laws against traffic violation and other vices. The committee is made up of FCT Directorate of Traffic Services (DRTS), Police, Federal Road safety Commission (FRSC), The Judiciary as well as Nigeria security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC).
There is no doubt that the committee is gathering momentum as many motorists now comply and observe traffic light, avoid the passage of one way, avoid driving on pedestrian lane, avoid illegal parking in prohibited areas, uses seat belt and avoid making call while driving.
The gains recorded since the inception of the committee outweighs its disadvantages. The bold steps taken by the FCT Minister are such that requires cooperation from all the motorists within the FCT. A lot of carnages on our city roads were caused by non-adherences to traffic rules which in most cases would have being avoided but for the ignorance and non challant attitude of some motorists they become unavoidable. With the high team of enforcement, it is making a lot of hitherto stubborn and disobedient motorists to comply.
The enforcements are not also without skirmishes especially on violation of one way passage. During one of my disguised outings and surveillance, I came across some motorists who violated the one way passage and instead of accepting their offence rather started cursing and assaulting the VIO personnel at the National Mosque.
Severally, I had to unofficially intervene in order to explain the point of the law and the existence of the high level ministerial traffic enforcement against violation of traffic authorized by the FCT Minister which also has a constituted Mobile Court in place.
So far, the Mobile Court on traffic violation has convicted many offenders and for those found not guilty set free and in some cases fined. As the enforcements progresses, it is also pertinent for the FCT authorities to intensify more enlightenment, sensitization and interaction between motorists and the authorities.
The FCT directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) popularly known as VIO are in the lead as regards the enforcement. The provision of adequate vehicles, motorbikes and even walkie talkies is easing communication drive, enforcement tactics, collaborative efforts and even cooperation.
Basically, the DRTS officers and men are wonderfully sending the message across to motorists that the era of traffic violation is over. As such, the more cautious motorist become the better for the safety of our lives. There are certain lifesaving mechanism the FCT DRTS that also forms part of the enforcement has put in place. Among them are the psychiatric test normally carried out on offending motorists. The reason behind it is to examine state of offenders.
Internationally, it is a common practice carried out to ensure that motorists with unstable mental health are off from the roads. In Nigeria however, only the FCT and Lagos State adopted the measure. The Wadata Aliyu Bodinga led DRTS has done a lot to sustain and actualize the FCT Ministers proactive measure on traffic management.
The Ministerial free traffic flow measure from 7am – 10am from Mondays – Fridays are also commendable initiatives taken to enable workers and other FCT inhabitants to get to their places of work and businesses without obstruction. No responsible administration would allow violation of traffic as such all hands must be on deck to ensure the success of these enforcement if we must succeed as a people.
The DTT which is the Driver’s License Section of the DRTS also ensures that applicant drivers are subjected to thorough driving test and scrutiny in order to ensure that incompetent drivers don’t ply FCT roads.
Sometimes, the inability of corrupt officers to do the needful causes traffic violation as most of them due to short cut methods adopted to qualify for driving deprives them the opportunity to learn and know about traffic regulations. The tripartite arrangement of issuance of Driver’s License is a shared responsibilities between the DRTS and FRSC.
So far, the most important national unit is the DRTS Mabushi section known to be having zero tolerance for corruption under the incumbent stewardship of DRTS Director who is charged with the responsibility of appointing the VIO unit head for the DTT.
Intelligence reports has shown that the rapport between candidates and testing officers has been that of qualified candidates being tested by competent officers without fear or favor.
The Buhari administration has also endorsed the ministerial traffic violation through charging of its top officials to obey traffic rules and regulations. The diplomatic community in Nigeria is not also an exception as many embassy and high commission workers and diplomats have been reported to be compliant with the new order.
The worrisome aspect is the continuous violation of traffic light and one way passage by taxi drivers, keke Napep operators and Truck drivers. This is a clarion call on the NURTW, RTEAN, NARTO and LUXBON to further sensitize their members on the dangers of traffic violation.