Restoring sanity to the roads | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Restoring sanity to the roads

Posted: Apr 16, 2015 at 3:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Andrew Utulu  / Correspondent, Lagos


Lagos State is reputed to have about the highest number of vehicles plying its roads. The development is responsible for the chaotic nature of the roads as motorists struggle to out manoeuvre each other on the road. The situation is worsened by the fact that some of these vehicles are not in good condition.

busAround 2001, the Lagos State government tried to regulate the worthiness of vehicles plying its roads when it introduced road worthiness certification otherwise known as Ministry of Transport (MOT-Test certificate) to confirm that all vehicles operating on Lagos roads are thoroughly examined and found to be road worthy. However, critics described the exercise variously as yet another waste of time, misplacement of priority and particularly as an attempt to extort money from the private motor owners. It was later discontinued.

Today another attempt is in the offing with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) proposal to slam a ban on rickety vehicles. This is not different with the Lagos State and Federal Government policies of trying to ensure that obscene and rickety vehicles no longer have their ways on the roads, be it federal or state roads for the ultimate goal of securing lives and properties of the citizenry.

Apart from the obscene nature of such vehicles in the fast developing cities, states or nation, investigations revealed that these vehicles pose a lot of danger to the road users.

Such vehicles often break down on the roads and the chances of causing accidents are very high when this occur. You find a lot of them without traffic lights, side mirrors, wipers and what have you, thus causing a lot of dangers to other vehicles and road users.

However, the Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRCS), the Vehicle Inspection Service (VIO) and the traffic sections of the Nigeria Police Force who are at the vanguard of ensuring compliance by the road users nonetheless have enormous challenges in carrying out effective task of securing lives and properties on our roads.

So many have come up with the questions as to what the authority classifies  as rickety vehicles, what the public perceive as rickety vehicles, and who are more guilty of putting rickety vehicles on the roads.

According to Hyginus U. Omeje, Corps Commander and Sector Commander, Lagos State, Federal Road Safety Corps, said that directives on ban of rickety vehicles has always been in place, adding that there is no new directives to that effect.

He described rickety vehicles as those that are mechanically deficient. Driving such vehicles he said is an offence.

“For us it an offence that we have been implementing in terms of ensuring that vehicles on the roads are road worthy. Once the vehicle is not road worthy, or what we in professional language call mechanically deficient, we issue a citation for it and you don’t allow the vehicle to leave until those things that make the vehicle to be road worthy are put in place, such that the vehicle meets the minimum safety standard requirement”.

Omeje noted that when it comes to road worthiness of a vehicle, the VIO has a role to play, noting that it is their statutory duty to inspect vehicles and ensure that all vehicles are road worthy and that is why they issue road worthiness certificate.

He also explained that the observation of the corps over the time is that  “ there could be a vehicle that may have a valid roadworthiness at a time, but between the period the road worthiness certificate was issued and the time you are seeing it, a lot of things had happened that ideally that vehicle should not be seen on the road. Nevertheless, the person had collected  a road worthiness certificate, and as at the time it was collected, so to say the vehicle was inspected them and deemed to be road worthy then, so we have always been arresting vehicles that are not road worthy, it is not as if there is a new directive. Remember what we used to call off road, we place a sticker that you cannot even drive the vehicle from there, we have to tow it. It means the vehicle did not meet the minimum safety requirement. We ensure it is put in order before it could be found on the road. The VIO have a statutory role to play, because they are responsible for issuing the certificate.

Although there is a fine for such offences, but the Lagos FRSC boss said paying the fine is not the ultimate goal. “The ultimate is to ensure that the vehicle is repaired and put in good shape that is the ultimate.

He further defined the rickety vehicle as when the body of the vehicle is no longer in consonance with what it supposed to be, the entire body has gone bad, the tyres are bad, the lightings are bad, everything is shaking, the centre cannot hold, the rear light and other lights may not be there, it means they are no longer worthy to be on the road.

According to Omeje, commercial vehicles are guiltier of putting rickety vehicles on the roads.

“For private operator, if not for anything, pride will not allow him to put rickety vehicle on the road, but for commercial buses particularly those who run where the road network is relatively bad, they will tell you they just want to manage, but you hardly see them on the express roads, on the average, commercial buses are more culpable.

On the government vehicles that are rickety, Omeje disagree that one can see a lot of government vehicles such as theirs, VIO and police in badly dilapidated state on the road.

“I wouldn’t want to say that you will see any government vehicles in those kind of terribly dilapidated situation we have described.

The once you can see may be perhaps in government vehicles especially for our sister agencies who do go on certain operations that might warrant their vehicles to be bashed often, but certainly not Road Safety because for us if the vehicle is not in good condition, I don’t have business being on the road because I cannot be arresting somebody for an offence I am also committing.

We should live be example.

For other sister agencies who by the exigencies of their job, for example, if a police man is pursuing armed robbers, his focus is getting those robbers, if in the process, the vehicle is brushed, the  rear light , the pointer light  is being broken, he will not want to stop because he did not want to lose sight of those he is pursuing, perhaps, before the broken area is panel beat or light replaced, you may see such vehicle on the road, it does not mean the case is always like that, it is the exception other than the norm.   That is why you see that the police change their vehicles often due to the exigencies of their job. There is no way they will drive the way we drive and achieve result, sometimes they may need to drive against traffic (One way) in order to get to the scene of the crime at the appropriate time and track down the criminals.

Effort to interview the General Manager, Vehicle Inspection Service, Lagos State Ministry of Transport, Engr. Abdulasis Gbolahan Toriola on the subject matter proved abortive as he told our correspondent on the phone that he was too busy and urged him to come for an interview after the governorship election.