Stay Off Lagos Roads, Fashola Warns Federal Road Safety Commission
Gov Fashola and FRSC sector commander, Akpabio on Monday
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has warned the federal road safety commission, FRSC to stay off Lagos roads stressing that the commission’s operations within the state contravene the constitution of the federal republic.
Governor Fashola, who spoke when he received the new Federal Roads Safety Corps Sector Commander in Lagos State, Mr. Nseobong Akpabio in audience on Monday, said the state’s new Traffic Law was aimed at achieving compliance by Lagosians rather than at arresting and sending anybody to jail. He added that the law was all about the safety and benefit of Lagosians as it was not meant to send anybody to jail adding that a jail sentence would be the very extreme.
According to the Governor, “unlike the provision of the old Traffic law, the new law has made provisions for not only payment of fines but for convicted offenders to engage in community service such as directing traffic for a specified period”, adding, “The objective of the new law is to get people to comply rather than getting them arrested or apprehended. There is nothing spectacular about the provisions in the new law that is not applicable in distant locations”.
Governor Fashola, who restated the preparedness of the State to work with the agency within the provision of the law that defines the relationship, added, “Against the background that safety on the roads is the primary reason why the FRSC exists, I have often had some difficulties on which roads the agency is expected to carry out the functions and my position has often been misconstrued”.
The Governor emphasized that constitutionally, it is the State Government that has the responsibility to manage traffic on all municipal roads within its territory, adding that it does not mean federal and state agencies cannot collaborate on areas like training of drivers or sharing knowledge.
“It is not acceptable by law for the Federal Roads Safety Commission to come within the territory of any State to come and manage traffic, you cannot. I am sorry that is the law of this country and not my opinion. In the same way that Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) cannot go to the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway which is your territory because it is a road that links two states or more. Sometimes, I see some of your officers behind the back roads and I say, is this part of the road safety as well; I ask myself because I don’t know and I wish to know”, the Governor added.
Governor Fashola stated that going by the name of the organization which is Federal Road Safety Commission and not Federal Road Traffic Corps or Federal Road Transport Corps, safety should be the primary reason why the FRSC exists adding, “Since the State Government completed work on the Ojota Toll Point Trauma Centre, I expected that the FRSC should have also completed another one along Shagamu and in Ibadan so that when accidents happen people can get immediate medical attention”.
The Governor reiterated that with the present situation, victims of accidents that occur after Shagamu would have to be brought back to Lagos for medical attention which, according to him, may lead to needless loss of lives.
The Governor, who also expressed gladness at the assertion by the new Sector Commander that no Nigerian can sit at home and get a driving license anymore, said before now the impression that the State Government had was that FRSC was only focused on massively producing drivers licenses.
“We will achieve more if we ensure that everybody who operates a motor vehicle or any automobile, whether motorcycle or four wheel cars or truck, is first licensed to do so. It is not a toy and not focus only on producing licenses which, I must say, was the impression that we got until you came now”, the Governor said.
He added, “Where are your Drivers’ Training Institutes? I have five where you can train drivers, test them and recertify them. These are the places where we can work together and I am glad that nobody can sit at home and get a drivers’ license anymore. I think those are areas where our partnership will be much more defining to save lives to avoid those needless deaths”.
Governor Fashola noted that since the FRSC produces statistics every year, he expects that both parties to work through new strategies every three months which would help to achieve a lot instead of squabbles over who manages traffic in the State adding, “When Nigerians go to such distant locations, they always obey the laws and comply. Everybody should do the same here too”.
“The popularity of the law is very evident. Everybody should comply. For anyone who is convicted, he will either undergo compulsory training at the Drivers’ Institute or community service by managing traffic”, the Governor said explaining, “Traffic management is a reality of the nation’s large population and community status. Our State also introduced the Traffic Radio to provide advance information to residents on how they plan their route”.
Governor Fashola gave a commitment that the State Government would soon put out more road signs to educate people more and engage in public enlightenment and advocacy about the provisions of the new Traffic Law.
Speaking earlier, the Sector Commander, Mr. Nseobong Akpabio, expressed the readiness of the Federal Roads Safety Commission to partner with the State Government to actualize the Dakar Declaration as the well as the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety towards the reduction of road traffic accidents by 50 percent by envisaged Year 2015.
He called on the State Government to expedite action on the additional stations it wants to provide where tests would be carried out on would –be drivers as FRSC is desirous of moving its equipment there.
“We will ensure that they go through the process of visiting the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) first to determine if they can drive. We have noticed various areas of improvement that we are going to share experience with the agency to compare the areas of comparative advantage where we can stand on. The era of people sitting at home to get drivers’ license is gone, once Lagos State gets it right, other states will queue in”, the Sector Commander said.
He also gave a commitment that the FRSC in the State will not only partner with the State Government on the new Traffic law but will work with it to implement the law 100 percent “because it is a law meant to bring back sanity to the roads”.
He described the launch of the new Traffic Radio as a major breakthrough for the State which shows that a specialized Traffic radio Station can be used to inform, educate and entertain the people without bordering the existing radio stations.
Prominent among those who joined the Governor to receive the FRSC Sector Commander were members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Transportation, Hon. Kayode Opeifa, his Works and Infrastructure counterpart, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Permanent Secretary in the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency, (MVAA), Mr. Akin Hanson and other senior helmsmen at major transport agencies while the Sector Commander also had senior FRSC officers in his entourage.