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When indiscipline fights back in Aba


Aba is a city in the southeast of Nigeria and the commercial center of Abia State.<br />Photo: venturesafrica

Those who know Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the South East region before 2015 will readily attest to very high level of indiscipline ranging from improper waste disposal to indiscriminate parking of vehicles that narrow the few good roads and predispose innocent road users to all kinds of discomforts and even accidents.

Therefore, the Traffic and Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State, (TIMAAS) was set up by the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration to help check acts of indiscipline in the major urban cities of Aba and Umuahia. The equivalent in Lagos is LASTMA while in Port Harcourt we have TIMA-RIV performing similar roles as TIMAAS in Abia and Aba in particular.

In 2013, a medical doctor I know ran into a parked truck at night along the busy Azikiwe road Aba and only God saved his life. He is still suffering from the aftermath of that avoidable accident till date.

Folks in Aba even use half of the existing good roads as mechanics’ workshops to fix broken-down cars and heavy trucks without minding the effect of the oil on the roads, gutters and the environment. Not even newly reconstructed roads are spared by those who consider themselves above the law in Aba.

Ochefu Road was impassable for many years until Ikpeazu fixed it and surrounding streets. Even before the road was officially commissioned, it was converted to mechanics’ workshop with two third of the roads blocked by vehicles undergoing repairs or simply using it as a garage for trucks.

In all these, the same people, who are responsible for the messing up of Aba, are the first to complain about flooded roads, poor road networks, blocked drains and dirty streets.

They are also the same people who will use the wrong side of the road and cause traffic glitches along major roads. Same folks are prepared to park their bad trucks along the road and refuse entreaties to tow them away to a proper workshop where they will be fixed.

In fact, in Aba, towing van business is bad business because everyone fixes his vehicle on the road where it has issues. To such folks, why waste money to tow the vehicle away when you can inconvenience others and get away with it?

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They actually don’t expect to be disciplined by anyone for any malfeasance and even a headmistress, who owns a drinking joint is free to construct a makeshift toilet on top of a gutter along a major road like Ikot Ekpene Road and expect everyone to clap for her and pat her on the back.

It was to correct these irritating and socially dislocating behaviours that the government of Abia State decided to set up TIMAAS and Mr. Bright Chinedu Ikeokwu (a.k.a Osama) was appointed the pioneer deputy general manager in charge of Aba.
The state House of Assembly duly passed and gazetted the enabling law for the operations of TIMAAS and defined offences and punishment for contravention.
Now read this slowly.

In the dead of the night on November 9, 2017 heavily armed men, later identified as SARS police officers from Abuja, stormed the home of Ikeokwu and whisked him away towards Abuja without allowing him to call the Abia State Commissioner of Police or his family members.

While bundling him to Abuja, the policemen encountered a group of armed robbers around Lokoja and only the grace of God saved the unarmed Osama in handcuffs from being wasted in far away Lokoja.

Of course, by the time they got to Abuja, Ikpeazu was informed of the abduction and he engaged the police authorities and ensured that Osama did not spend one second in detention.

Why was Osama arrested?

In December 2016, TIMAAS wrote a transport company, Unik D Limited, (copied to Police Area Command at Aba) to remove their trucks and buses from Eziukwu Road by Milverton, as the vehicles were parked and regularly repaired along that road in contravention of the traffic management law of the state.

On receiving the letter, the Managing Director of the company, Chief Emeka Diwe, allegedly told the staff of the agency that there was no legal government in Abia State and hence nobody should trouble his operations.

On January 18, 2017, TIMAAS stormed Eziukwu Road by Milverton and removed two trucks and a bus belonging to UNIK D and served them necessary interdiction papers.

When Diwe was informed, he refused to pay the less than N100,000 fine but reportedly went to Aba Sports Club, where he is a member and told his friends that he will “show Osama and Ikpeazu,” who he is.

According to him, “Uche Ogah will soon become governor and he will retrieve his vehicles and punish Osama for daring to ask him to remove his trucks and buses from a road meant for the use of all Aba residents and visitors.

Note that the same Diwe later claimed that he could make more than N150,000 daily from his trucks and yet refused to visit TIMAAS to pay a fine that was less than N100,000.

On Sunday March 19, 2017 another truck belonging to same Unik D Limited developed a fault and obstructed traffic along Aba-Owerri Road, Aba. After almost 24 hours of obstructing traffic along the busy road, TIMAAS officials came to tow the truck away from the road to allow free flow of traffic, but they were attacked by workers of Unik D, who were purportedly repairing the vehicle on the busy road. Ultimately, the vehicle was towed to TIMAAS park and appropriate papers served to the company and copied to the police.

Even after those incidents, in July 2017, the same company allowed their Scania truck to block Aba-Owerri Road for three days and were fixing the truck on the road before TIMAAS operatives came and removed it to their park and fully notified the company and police.

• Kalu is the Abia State Commissioner for Information.

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