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Plenty ignorance yet, as FRSC’s policy kicks in

By Gbenga Akinfenwa, Paul Adunwoke (Lagos) and Anthony Otaru (Abuja)   |   02 October 2016   |   4:05 am
A speed limiter

A speed limiter

• We Are Unaware Of Demands, Say Commercial Drivers
• ‘Advisory Enforcement To End Dec. 31’

After months of controversies, implementation of the Federal Road Safety Commission’s (FRSC) policy on speed-limiting device took-off yesterday.

It was initially scheduled to commence April 2015, but the National Assembly summoned the Commission and sought justification for the initiative. This hurdle was followed by a suit filed by a civil society organisation. The FRSC scaled both.

According to the Commission, the device is meant to curb road crashes, which the FRSC says are predominantly caused by over-speeding. With the development, Nigeria joins countries, like Japan, Australia, Sweden and United States of America, which have already introduced the policy.

The first phase of implementation will involve operators of inter-state and inter-city transports vehicles.

Speaking recently on the need for stakeholders to support the policy, FRSC Corps Marshall, Boboye Oyeyemi, said: “With the speed limiter, there is no way you can exceed the calibrated speed on the vehicle, no matter how hard you press the accelerator. This means that we are going to cut over speeding, and fatal crashes will be drastically reduced. This, in turn, makes the roads safer for all.”

He said operators had to install the device before the October 1 deadline, to avoid clampdown on their vehicles.

Investigation by The Guardian, however, showed that implementation of the initiative seems shrouded in secrecy. The price of the devise, mode of installation, and other details remain mysterious to many motorists.

Last week, FRSC’s Head, Media Relations and Strategy, Bisi Kazeem, told The Guardian in Abuja, that the level of awareness had been high, with stakeholders’ forum in Lagos and Abuja, mega rallies at the six geo-political zones, media appearances, radio and television talk shows, advocacy visits, meetings with relevant partners such as the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), National Union of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), ALBON and media partners. He added that the motoring public was still being enlightened.

He said the move was in fulfillment of the provisions of the FRSC Establishment Act 2007 and the National Road Traffic Regulations 2012, which made it mandatory for every vehicle plying the highway to have a speed-limiting device.

It was learnt that despite the acclaimed sensitisation, many commercial bus drivers have little or no knowledge of the new policy or its date of implementation.

A survey of major motor parks in Lagos and Ogun States reveals that only a handful of drivers are aware of the new trend. At the popular Oshodi park, only one of five drivers interviewed had heard of the initiative. But even he could not say how or where to get it and what it costs.

James Okon, who plies the Sango/Oshodi route, told The Guardian he was hearing it for the first time. He asked whether the policy belonged to the Lagos State government and was surprised to learn it was national.

“I hope the FRSC has enough motor parks to put erring drivers like us. I am hearing this for the first time and I don’t think many of these drivers are aware. They should be ready to impound a lot of vehicles because their campaigns must have been ineffective,” he said. Another driver, Ayinde Yakub, who plies the Oshodi/Ikotun axis, shared a similar story.

The chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos, Tajudeen Agbede, was reluctant to comment. He, however, said his association would work in unison with the decision of the national body.

But one NURTW official told The Guardian that there were issues that needed to be addressed, if the Commission hoped to achieve its aim. He said contractors handling sale of the device were unknown and that a N36,000 price had not been confirmed.

When the Commission was asked what the device would cost, Kazeem said: “FRSC is not involved in pricing, but on enforcement. It falls under the purview of the accredited vendors. It should be noted that since the speed limiters come in various categories, for small cars, buses and heavy-duty trucks, the prices would definitely vary, depending on market forces.

“At this stage, it might not be feasible to start thinking of an extension of the enforcement date because this initiative has been in the front burner since 2014, and has passed through various stages of scrutiny and approval, from lawmakers to the presidency. But most importantly, it is instructive to note that the earlier this policy comes upstream in Nigeria, the better, to reverse the trend of road crashes associated with speed violation.”

He was silent on the punishment that would be meted to erring drivers. He, however, said that after the first phase of enforcement on commercial vehicles, “we will undertake an evaluation of our processes and procedures before drawing out modalities for private vehicle owners.”

According to the FRSC Sector Commander, Lagos State, Hyginus Omeje, the command would begin advisory enforcement from October 1 to December 31, 2016.

Omeje said: “Advisory enforcement means that from October, our men would flag down motorists, to know if they have installed the device. We are not going arrest or prosecute anybody in a mobile court now until after December 31, 2016.”

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