For the umpteenth time, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said yesterday that the September 30, 2013 deadline to replace their old vehicle number plate with the new biometric ones and for drivers to acquire the new licence remains sacrosanct.
Similarly, the corps has restated its resolve to re-licence all commercial drivers, maintaining that the measure remained part of its new strategy to checkmate traffic offences and curb road accidents.
The Corps Marshal and Chief Executive, Osita Chidoka, who stated that there was no going back on those measures, made the declaration yesterday while on a courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Company Limited, Kirikiri Industrial Estate, Lagos.
The FRSC boss, who solicited support for his organisation’s programme, led his team from the South West zone. They include Ademola Lawal, Assistant Corps Marshal, Zonal Commanding Officer, Zone 2 Headquarters, Lagos; Nseobong Akpabio, Lagos State Sector Commander; Fuomsuk Hyginus, Head, National Vehicle Identification System; Jonas Agwu, Corps Public Education Officer; A.O Sehinde, Unit Commander, Apapa as well as Morakinyo, Unit Commander, Wharf, Lagos.
The party was received on arrival by the company’s management team led by the Managing Director, Editor-in-Chief, Mr Tony Onyima. Chidoka said many issues were critical to his organisation now. The first being its desire to drastically cut down on the number of deaths on the highways due to over speeding and faulty engineering of many roads.
“Our resolve right now is to reduce deaths that occur on our roads due to overspeeding on the part of many drivers. When we are talking about overspeeding, many of us in Lagos may not understand. But when one travels on Asaba-Benin or Abuja-Lokoja highways for instance, one will understand that road crashes are increasing even with improved roads. This is primarily due to faulty engineering of the roads.
“Most of these roads are built with faults that do not forgive errors. Part of the road safety component is to forgive the mistakes of others. Nowadays, in modern road construction, the roads are padded as part of the safety component.
“What we have increasingly seen is that most of our roads are built without consideration to the safety of the communities where the roads pass.
“The expressways divide the communities without the engineers thinking about the safety of the residents. And there are no overhead bridges and no pedestrian crossings. So, engineering of the roads is a major problem, we are tackling that at the moment by starting up an Engineering Department of the FRSC.”
He maintained that, “our task is to decrease the number of accidents on the roads and we believe that a road, no matter how beautiful it may be, is not a road until it is marked. If you don’t, it is no road.”
Chidoka said the second part of his visit was to seek increased collaboration so as to sell FRSC’s agenda to the citizenry. The FRSC boss said he desired to use the strong platform offered by The Sun titles to reach out to the Nigerian community on issues that critically affect many, especially the proposed September 30 deadline on new number plate and the new driver’s license.
He said: “The fortune of the FRSC in the next 25 years is a major one. We have made it known that the September 30 deadline for Nigerians to change their old number plates to the new biometric ones is sacrosanct. There is no going back on that.”
On the commercial driver’s licence, Chidoka said every operator would be re-licenced. But that could not be until the drivers had been certified fit through tests that would be conducted on them.
“The third critical thing to us at the moment is the commercial driver’s licence. I have to reiterate that all commercial drivers operating in the country will have to be re-licenced. But we will not do that until we have seen their certificates of fitness. What that means is that their blood pressure, eyesight as well as blood sugar level test results will be known. That is why we are pushing for stronger media support so that we can put these pieces of information through to them.
“With these efforts, our goal is to reduce road crashes in the country. Of course, when one sees the graph of road crashes going down, what that means is that we are bringing down the problem. The difference is what could have happened if nothing was done,” he said.
Chidoka noted that as part of FRSC’s effort to ensure that things go smoothly, the system was being fortified to run on performance indicators for improved effectiveness.
He spoke of the lofty administrative mode, which had helped FRSC performing at the very highest level, noting that efforts were constantly being made to guarantee quality for top performance at the agency.
“Things are being put in place. We want people to keep the quality initiatives in the FRSC even when I have left. To ensure that the right things are done, we are careful about our recruitment.
“That is why we are stricter with our calls because if we recruit wrongly, when the same persons reach to the top of the corps in the next 25 years, they will run the place down. That is why we have to see a way of attracting the best to us because we look to the future with great optimism.
“We want to press for the re-engineering of our roads, ensure that the use of seat belt culture sticks. These are some of the things that will make us great among the comity of nations.”
Mr Chidoka commended The Sun for the recent awards it gave to deserving individuals and corporate organisations including the FRSC, which received the Public Service award.
He said: “The awards refer us to the amazing opportunities that await Nigerians. It means that there is opportunity for excellence and opportunities for making a mark.”
He described the event as “iconic,” noting that the trend in the past showed that “it is a little to the left, a little to the right award. The Sun has maintained high standard of credibility and it is a major impetus to living up to expectation.” Mr Chidoka remarked that the FRSC was one of the best performing road safety agencies in the world.
He observed that if there were adequate resources in the country, high quality roads, which conform to international safety standards could have been built across the country.
He also noted that part of the challenges his agency was having was inadequate resources to sustain motorised patrols across the country, adding that “our resources are not as much as to meet our dreams and hope.” Responding, Mr Onyima thanked the FRSC boss, noting that “he had brought intellectualism to bear on the organisation.” He said he was indeed re-engineering the corps.
“Re-engineering the roads for safety I didn’t know, is one of the issues the agency has to deal with. That means that you have to work closely with the Federal Ministry of Works, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), among others.” He expressed worry that issuance of the new driver’s license had become worrisome as drivers had to literarily keep vigil at the various data cåapture centres for their biometric data to be captured.
Also speaking, Editor, Daily Sun, Mr Steve Nwosu enjoined the FRSC chief to work in closer collaboration with various construction companies with a view to having construction plans that would confirm with quality safety standards. Similarly, Mr Sola Oshunkeye, Editor Magazines urged Mr Chidoka to ensure that the 100km speed limit recommended on the highways was strictly adhered to by motorists.
Mr Onyima thanked Mr Chidoka and his team for the visit, saying that “The Sun will benchmark these your wonderful ideas.” He assured Mr Chidoka that the newspaper “is open to your request; if there is one media house that will assist you, The Sun Publishing is the one,” he said.