For every service organisation, feedback from the receiving public is germane. It helps in fine-tuning policies, programmes and operational modalities. This was the tthrust of a recent parley between road users and FRSC. Writes ……
Drivers of petrol tankers and trucks, who have often resisted penalties for sundry offences, had an opportunity to confront officials of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) at a recent sensitisation forum on safe driving, improper conduct on the highways, malfunctioning vehicles, over speeding, among other infractions.
While the agency has remained focussed on its mission of making the highways safe for all road users, many stakeholders have complained on the monetary penalties imposed for infringements on rules and regulations. To be sure, the FRSC is not a revenue-making agency, but drivers have openly resisted paying fines.
These and other relevant issues came to the fore last week at the sensitisation programme for truck and trailer drivers held at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depot in Suleja, near Abuja.
The event was organised by Proedge Communications, an Abuja-based public relations firm as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives towards saving lives during the much dreaded ‘ember’ months.
On the front burner were dangers of night travelling, including fatigue, poor vision and road obstruction, over-speeding, improper parking of broken-down vehicles and use of caution signs and fixing of auto-reflective tapes, especially on tankers and trucks. Drivers’ state of mind and capability, including abuse of alcohol and hard drugs, were also considered as critical factors impacting safety on the wheels.
Oyeyemi on safe driving
The Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi’s message was delivered by the Assistant Corp Marshal, Federal Operations, Mr Adegoke Adetunji, who emphasised that safe driving can be achieved when road users obey speed limits, ensure that their vehicles are in good condition and drivers are of sound mind. He specifically warned drivers to avoid night travels and over-speeding, borrowing from the theme for this year’s ‘ember months’ campaign.
“Firstly, consider your family when you drive. When you travel, they want you back at home. Nobody can represent you like you want; nobody would pay your children’s school fees when they have their own children to cater for. So, I’m appealing to you to always consider them when you’re driving,” Oyeyemi pleaded.
The Corps Marshal reminded the drivers that night travel could be thrilling due to fewer vehicles on the road, but reiterated that nature cannot be cheated. He therefore warned that a little doze could cause regrettable occurrence within seconds. “The roads may be free at night, but the body demands rest at night. Work during the day, rest at night,” Oyeyemi advised.
The FRSC boss urged drivers of heavy duty vehicles to remember that every road user is entitled to the roads and cautioned against threatening other road users because of the size of their vehicles. He also commended the drivers for turning up for the event, even as Oyeyemi asked them to conduct themselves responsibly by watching their health, maintaining their vehicles regularly and avoiding wrong parking which endangers the lives of others.
Depot manager on bad roads
Also speaking, the NNPC manager Suleja Depot, Eng Abubakar Mohammed, appealed to the drivers to bear with the government on the state of the Nigerian roads even as he emphasised that no government would like to see its citizens suffer hardships on the roads. He noted that huge financial requirements were needed to meet the infrastructural deficits across the country, with scare resources and competing demands.
The depot manager applauded the tanker and trailer drivers for shelving the earlier planned strike action and reassured them that government would continue to intervene in addressing their concerns.
Organisers on initiative
In his remarks, the chief consultant, Proedge Ltd, Mr Tajudeen Kareem disclosed that the programme was designed to key into the broad policy of the FRSC on continuous sensitisation and advocacy for safer roads.
He noted that although the roads are not all in a good shape, human error on the part of road users, particularly drivers of trucks and tankers, still constitute a major concern in ensuring safety on the roads, especially during the ‘ember months.’
“Government cannot muster enough resources to maintain all the roads at the same time, but we must be conscious as drivers to pay attention to peculiarities of the roads and in playing our part as road users,” Kareem said even as he explained that the sensitisation programme would be replicated across the country for a deeper interaction with road users.
Drivers hail programme
Participants commended the organisers and the FRSC for the highly-interactive event and appealed to the agency to consider less-stringent penalties when they suffer vehicular breakdown on the highways. They claimed that the fines they pay for infractions have become quite burdensome for them.
Mallam Auwal Mohammed, a truck driver from Nasarawa state spoke on behalf of the other truck drivers.
“When we have faulty trucks parked on the roadside or where the truck stopped and can’t be pushed because it is a large vehicle, the FRSC officials just arrest us and take us to the office and charge us without giving us the chance to explain or help us proffer solution to the issue on ground,” he elaborated.
ACM Adetunji assured the drivers that no road safety official would harass those who ensure that broken-down vehicles are parked in a manner not constituting obstruction or danger to other road users.
He however urged tanker and truck drivers to work as a group and provide standby evacuation plans when they suffer unforeseen breakdown.
The event had representatives of drivers unions in attendance including the unit chairman of (NUPENG), Alhaji Nma Mustapha; chairman, Suleja/Abuja unit of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Yahaya Alhassan and the unit chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Comrade Hassan Mohammed.
Kareem wrote from Abuja