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FRSC: Put road signs and not speed limiters


Men of FRSC on duty

Men of FRSC on duty

Once again, without first clearing the legal hurdles, the Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC), embarked on a fresh wild goose chase to force commercial motorists to install speed limiters with effect from April 1, 2016. The FRSC should be told to concentrate on its job and stop chasing frivolities every now and then.

From the outset, it is appropriate to ask who gave approval for this scheme that the FRSC is gunning for. Is the device manufactured locally or is it going to be imported at this critical time when government is placing a ban on unnecessary imports due to cash crunch? How sustainable is the scheme? When did FRSC become a revenue generating agency?

The House of Representatives, last week, acted patriotically, in the public interest, and stopped the phantom scheme that would have created battle fields between FRSC officials and motorists on the highways. Besides, an attempt to enforce the device would have compounded the already bad traffic situation on the highways. Very soon, it will be rainy season and the FRSC would mount road blocks in an attempt to enforce the scheme.

Certainly, none of these obstructions is desirable on the highways at this time. The Elec¬tronic Controlled Modules (ECM) or Speed Limiter, according to the FRSC, reduces the speed of vehicles on the road. The House of Representatives, in rejecting the device, declared the technology as outdated and ordered the FRSC to instead adopt and apply the Spider Technology that conforms to existing global practices.

The House’s position is based on the fact that the proposed speed limiter is discriminatory and not suitable for vehicles without fuel injector system. It is common knowledge that more than 85 per cent of commercial vehicles plying Nigerian roads are rickety and old with carburetor system. The FRSC is fully aware of this fact and yet it went ahead to propose a device it knew most vehicles can’t adopt, apparently, with the sole aim to get many defaulters that would be forced to pay heavy fines. Thus, the speed limiter is merely designed to rake in billions from hapless Nigerians rather than curb accident.

The House of Representatives rightly observed that the FRSC’s aim is just to enrich the suppliers of the device and perhaps, line the pockets of its top shots. The preferred Spider Technology system allows road safety officials to monitor vehicle speed from 500 meters ahead, and by so doing, is able to detect excessive speed. Offenders are stopped and fined appropriately. That is how the police and other traffic marshals in developed countries operate. The aim is not to make money but to actually reduce speed and curb accidents.

It is obvious, that, whereas, the Spider Technology, is designed to curb accidents by tracking over speeding vehicles, the FRSC’s speed limiter is only meant to make money from hapless motorists without actually reducing accidents because the other contributory factors for road safety are not in place in Nigeria.

FRSC’s latest behemoth is coming after the agency failed in 2014 to impose a supposedly “new” vehicle number plate on Nigerians without first having the existing one abolished. Piqued by the impunity and affront of the agency, a Lagos lawyer dragged FRSC to court after it fixed a vexatious deadline for motorists to obtain the “new” number plate or have their vehicles impounded. The so-called “new” number plate was not exactly new, but merely a joggle, whereby three alphabets were transferred from the right to the left with a map of Nigeria at the centre.

While the court recognized the power of the FRSC to introduce new number plates (so long as the appropriate legal steps were taken), it upbraided the agency for failing to first get the existing number plate abolished before introducing the “new” one.

There are several factors that make for smooth road transportation, of which the condition of the road, vehicle and state of mind of the driver are uppermost. While a speed limiter could prevent a vehicle from being driven above a specified speed, accident could still occur if the road is dilapidated or if the driver is in a poor state of mind or not even qualified to drive.

Without good roads, nothing else works. What has the FRSC done in its 28 years of existence to persuade or collaborate with the Ministry of Works at both the federal and state levels to fix our roads? What has the FRSC done to ensure that the highways are properly marked with appropriate traffic signs?

Anyone who has lived and driven in any of the developed countries would have noticed how prominent road signs are on the highways. Without asking questions, the road signs, along with bold markings and speed limits indicated on entry to any road, are enough to direct the driver to reduce speed and curb accidents. Where do we have our own road signs and markings before talking of speed limiter? Why is the FRSC not working to put road signs and markings?

From all indications, the FRSC has transformed itself into a busy body that is always scheming on how to fleece Nigerians. The time, energy and resources wasted in holding board meetings were these frivolous and anti-people schemes are hatched could have been used to come up with workable ideas that would help road transportation in Nigeria.

Rather than concentrate on its job of ensuring sanity on the highways, the agency is ever devising one unpopular scheme or the other that would bring it into collision course with motorists. And by focusing on mere paraphernalia that must be attached to vehicles rather than the road infrastructure that enhances smooth transportation, the agency has abdicated its primary responsibility of road safety management, control and sanitization.

I don’t see how a new vehicle number plate or old one would stop accident if the driver is unqualified, drunk or deranged. Also,

I don’t see how a speed limiter would stop accident when the roads are dilapidated without road signs and markings as there are in other climes. What is the FRSC doing about the thousands of under aged drivers dangerously pulling trailers, tankers and other articulated vehicles on the highways? What is the FRSC doing about conductors hanging on moving mini buses?

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