Have you ever noticed that Nigerian drivers don’t want anything to do with Federal Road Safety Corps and Vehicle Inspection Office (except to obtain driving license and all)? Even commercial drivers don’t want their wahala. In fact, once a driver gets to FRSC checkpoint, he won’t wait for anyone to remind him to cross his seatbelt. If that checkpoint was mounted by VIO, the driver that knows his vehicle isn’t in good shape will just find an alternate route.
Here in Enugu, I found another agency that keeps drivers in check. This group is the Enugu State Ministry of Transport Traffic Enforcement Bureau Cadets, popularly known as ‘MOT’. These officials don’t mount blocks, and they don’t have checkpoints. I only noticed that they patrol the major roads in the city and station themselves in areas that usually have traffic congestion. Honestly, Enugu State ‘MOT’ has ensured that commercial drivers stick to traffic rules and regulations.
For once, I am going to commend these agencies – Road Safety, VIO and MOT (that’s the names we know them with down here). When I see something good I will say it. If I see bad ones, I will also say them loud. Let’s be honest for once, the presence of these officials on our roads has made our roads safer – as in, safe from reckless driving and not from bad roads and theft. I will point out some of the things these agencies have contributed to.
Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO)
See, the fear of VIO is the beginning of well maintained cars. Trust me, you don’t want to argue with these guys. If you insist that your car is 100% ok, they will take you to their inspection room. And once your car enters that inspection room, well as my brother always says, unless you recently bought the car as ‘tear rubber’, VIO will write it off-road. So the best thing for you to do to obtain certificate of road worthiness is to make sure your car is in good shape. And believe me when I say that most cars in the city are now in good condition because of the VIO.
So, I can categorically say that VIO helped to minimise the rate of accidents on our roads.
Federal Road Safety Corp
The fear of Road Safety is the beginning of making sure that every component in your car works. If by mistake this people catch you and your vehicle’s lamps are not functioning properly, well, get ready for their office.
Because of Road Safety people now change their tyres as at when due and make sure they have a spare one in their car’s boot. I know a lot of people hate them for this but I think they are doing something good for us. If you think I’m lying, witness an accident scene that was caused by tyre burst. So, let’s just give them this one, they are trying.
Road Safety also helped to minimise carrying of loads that are more than the capacity of the vehicle. At least I know that commercial bus drivers are no longer comfortable with carrying heavy and bulky loads on top of their vehicles because of what Road Safety will do to them.
Commercial bus drivers don’t like using seatbelts. I kept wondering why until one of them told me it is because of the bad roads. Well, that didn’t stop Road Safety officials from ‘dealing’ with them when they catch them. To avoid their problems, bus drivers cross their belts immediately they sight these officials, or their patrol vehicles.
Enugu State Ministry of Transport Traffic Enforcement Bureau Cadet
I don’t know how many states that have this agency, but they are doing a good job in Enugu metropolis. Since their inception, motorists have started observing traffic rules. There is a noticeable reduction in the number of drivers that run red lights, park wrongly or drive recklessly.
Another good thing about this agency is that they help in traffic control. Their presence on congested roads ensures easier movement of vehicles. I don’t really know but I think they are there to fill up for Road Safety and Traffic Wardens (do these people still exist in Nigeria?)
Ok, so we have seen some of the ways these agencies help in keeping Nigerian drivers in check. Anytime I look at these officials I wonder why Nigerians are so ‘afraid’ of them. I mean, they don’t mete out corporal punishments like the Nigerian Army and Nigerian police officials do. But they found out one thing that every Nigerian doesn’t want to part with – money.
These people are able to hold everyone in check because of the monetary punitive method they adopted. I could remember when I was in a commercial bus and a Road Safety official flagged down our bus. The driver had to reverse and follow another route because his ‘papers’ weren’t complete. When I asked him to explain to the officers, people in the vehicle laughed and reminded me that there is no ‘abeg’ for Road Safety, VIO and MOT.
Well, their strategies are working, but a lot of bad eggs in the system are misusing that. They need to do something about corrupt officers in their midst.
Areas for Improvement
I know that these agencies are working but they need to improve in some areas. These areas include:
a. Training on Emotional Intelligence: Sometimes, in fact most times, these officials lose their cool. I don’t think it is proper for someone to break the windscreen or side mirror of a moving vehicle. But these agencies do that a lot. In fact, Road Safety is notorious for that. These agencies need to train their staff every now and then on how to control their emotions. They should also remove officials that are hot tempered from the road before they cause more problems for the agencies and innocent citizens.
b. Penalising Corrupt Officials: We already know that some of these officials are corrupt. Some of them will try to negotiate with you to see if you will ‘settle’ them there or be taken to their office for bigger ‘pay’. Most drivers will prefer to ‘settle’ because it will be cheaper for them. In as much as these drivers don’t want to violate any traffic rules because they don’t want to part with their money (and these agencies don’t settle for any small amount), the behaviour of these corrupt officials is an embarrassment to the nation and the agencies.
c. Putting a Stop to Wrong Practices: One practice of these agencies I want to point out here is car chasing. I don’t know if these officials realise the danger they put the lives of the defaulter, his passengers and other innocent motorists as they chase cars. They should find ways of searching, finding and arresting defaulters who ran off when stopped. Car chase is very wrong, especially in this our bad roads.
d. Increasing Number of Officials on the Road: The only officials I can see more on the road are the MOTs. There is need for more officials of these agencies to patrol different roads. They should also patrol and monitor rural areas and bring sanity there.
So, anytime you see of these officials, hail them, they are trying. Hopefully, they will do better in the nearest future.