Kaduna State government bans FRSC operations in cities, suburbs

Nasir El-Rufai

• Blames officials for traffic congestion, accidents • We will comply, says commission

The Kaduna State government has banned operations of the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) in the metropolis and suburbs as a result of rising cases of traffic congestion and accidents.

The ban was declared after the meeting of the state security council yesterday which indicted FRSC officials for complicity in traffic congestion and accidents.

Since the FRSC did not oppose the position of Kaduna State, other states of the federation may cite the need to ease traffic and replicate the action of the state government. This may restrict the activities of the FRSC to federal highways in states and outside them.

The Spokesman to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Samuel Aruwan who disclosed the outcome of the meeting, said “the Kaduna State Security Council barred personnel of the FRSC from erecting checkpoints in Kaduna metropolis and other urban centres in the state.”

The state government has lost confidence in the FRSC facilitating a free flow of traffic in its towns and believes that the personnel are making life more difficult for the residents.

The state government discovered that prior to the ban on the operations of FRSC personnel in the state, the officers acted in ways similar to activities of Vehicles Inspection Officers (VIO) who had earlier been banned.

Aruwan explained that “the security council also prohibited FRSC personnel from indiscriminately stopping vehicles for inspection in Kaduna, a situation which has been responsible for avoidable traffic congestion and accidents. FRSC personnel were advised to concentrate their energies in ensuring safe travel on highways such as the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.

“The council acted following complaints that FRSC officials were acting in ways reminiscent of the VIO that was dissolved by the state government following widespread unease by their acts of disrespect for the public and penchant for extortion.

“In 2016, the Federal Government acceded to requests from the Kaduna State government and re-designated the Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway (the Western Bye-pass) and Ahmadu Bello Road as state roads. Residents complain that FRSC officials create needless traffic bottleneck on these state roads,” he said.

Besides, the governor’s aide said the council had directed that transporters should stop loading firewood, tomatoes and other goods on top of petrol tankers throughout the state. The council drew the attention of the public to the hazards such practices pose to life and property.

“The security council, therefore, mandated security agencies to ensure compliance with these directives, and relevant agencies were also directed to impound defaulting tankers,” he said.

The meeting chaired by Governor El-Rufai also had in attendance the Deputy Governor, Barnabas Yusuf Bala; Commander, 1 Division Garrison, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen Ismaila Isa; Commander 453 Base Services Group, Nigerian Air Force; Representative of the Commandant, Nigerian Navy School of Armament, Capt S.M. Ochidi; Commissioner of Police, Mr. Agyole Abeh; Director of Department of State Services (DSS), Tijjani Mohammed Wakil; and heads of other security agencies.

In his reaction, the FRSC Sector Commander, Mr. Francis Udoma said: “Definitely my men will comply with the directives of the state security council and the governor which prohibit us from Kaduna roads.”

But the FRSC chief absolved his men of complicity in the traffic congestion and accidents as well as extortion of motorists and other members of the public. “The laws guiding us in our operations are clear; if any of my men is caught collecting money from any driver or member of the public, it is an instant dismissal from the service.

“I am a member of the Kaduna State Security Council. I was at the meeting when the governor raised the issue that there are complaints from motorists and other members of the public that my men have been extorting them.

“I have never received any complaint in my office against any of my people that they have taken bribes or extorted the people. They know that as part of the rules, no matter how highly placed in the commission, if any issue of bribe or extortion is raised against anybody, it is instant dismissal.”

Udoma also defended the FRSC officers against allegation of causing congestion or constituting public nuisance on the roads. “What really brought this matter up was when the governor told me that he saw some of my men at the Singer Roundabout, when the ECWA Church was holding its service. “The truth about the matter was that when I investigated the issue, I was told that some of my men were approached by ECWA church to ensure that there was a free traffic flow in the area. And when the governor was passing through the area and he saw my men, he told them to immediately vacate the place and they complied.

“I don’t see how we have constituted obstruction to the public. But, since the government has told us to leave the township roads we will comply and concentrate on the federal highways. But, they should also understand that the Ahmadu Bello way and some other highways in the metropolis are federal highways where we shall operate,” the sector commander said.

The Head of Communication and Strategy of the Commission, Bisi Kazeem, in a text message, told The Guardian that such a move had already become a policy issue.

‘’The policy issue states that where there are state traffic agencies, FRSC should lay emphasis on highways and allow the state traffic agencies to focus on urban patrols. This, however, does not mean that the FRSC cannot engage in rescue services in situations of emergencies where necessary.’’

According to him, the Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi recently had a meeting with all the heads of traffic agencies, imploring them to take charge of their states while the corps concentrate on highways.

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