Members of FRSC
“This year’s award was conferred on the FRSC in recognition of its remarkable achievements in raising political awareness and support for road safety, in addition to its leadership role in the formation of the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) and in re-awakening road safety consciousness in the African sub-region as President of the African group of the International Road Safety Organization”.
Those were the exact words used by Prince Michael of Kent, who is the Patron of the Global Road Safety Commission, to describe the 2008 presentation of the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award to the Federal Road Safety Corps which he also commended “as a leading Commonwealth Agency in road safety”. On the award, the Prince described the year 2008 edition as remarkable because the FRSC is the first government agency to receive it in Africa since it was instituted twenty one years ago in Britain.
The genesis of this advocacy on road safety can also be traced to November 2009 in Russia during the first global Ministerial Conference with the theme, “Time for Action”. The Conference brought together Transport, Infrastructure, Health and Interior Ministers, Road Safety agencies and relevant Non-governmental Organizations, with the FRSC Corps Marshal and Chief Executive, Osita Chidoka, presenting a position paper on the relevance of volunteer groups in actualizing global goals on road safety, in addition to the state of road infrastructure in Africa.
It is instructive to recall that the Moscow confab did not only instigate collective action towards reinforced governmental leadership and guidance in road safety, but also included designating or strengthening lead agencies and co-ordination mechanisms at national or sub-national levels such as the FRSC and WARSO.
In his presentation at the 2nd General Assembly of the West African Road Safety Organization in Freetown, the Sierra Leone anVice President who spoke through his Minister of State, Dr. John Komba-Kano recalled the common colonial heritage within the sub-region and advocated the need for collective pursuit of common goals and building of a synergy for safer road use in Africa.
He specifically urged West African countries to foster co-operation between and among national and sub-regional bodies, legal entities and research centers towards and reinforcing road safety through robust public education, harmonized road traffic regulations and increased funding for road safety issues.
These scenario must have triggered-off last month’s capacity review of road safety situation in the Republic of Sierra Leone by a 3-man team from the Federal Road Safety Corps, at the instance of a request from the Government of Sierra Leone for the Nigerian Government to provide a technical assistance for developing the capacity for entrenching sustainable road safety management in Sierra Leone.
During the 8-day visit, the FRSC team assessed the current road safety management situation in the country, studied the policy and operational documents of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority which is the agency statutorily entrusted with road safety management and drew up a framework, recommended ways forward and developed a time line of activities, policy formulations/implementations and legislations towards entrenching a workable lead agency in Sierra Leone.
Part of the tasks facing the FRSC team included identifying gaps, mapping out strategies for improvement, proposing action plan and drawing up a framework which could guide the team to be seconded from Nigeria for a period of two years to offer technical assistance to the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA). Pursuant to this, 3 critical areas were identified for technical assistance such as Traffic Warden Corps Training, Road Traffic Crash Data Management and Institutional Capacity Building.
The Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority likened to the FRSC in Nigeria, is transforming into the lead agency on the road safety management in Sierra Leone, a country with an estimated population of 6 million, a land area of 71,740km2 and 11, 300 km road network and 200,000 vehicular population. It also supervises the Traffic Warden Corps in the country and was established in 1996 by an Act of Parliament to regulate, co-ordinate and promote Road Safety activities within the transport sector. In the same vein, this agency also deals with the registration of vehicles, training and licensing of drivers and assists the Police in traffic control.
During the visit, the FRSC delegation had interactive sessions with the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the Vice President, Dr. Ernest Koroma, the Secretary to the President, Alhaji Samuel Samsumau, the Transport Minister, the Attorney-General of Sierra Leone, the Inspector-General of the Sierra Leone Police and media representatives drawn from the print and electronic media.
After analysis of road safety situation in Sierra Leone, the FRSC team came up with a restructuring programme for the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority and action plan which will hinge on eleven key areas: Operations and Enforcement, Vehicle Licensing, Driver’s Licensing, Vehicle Inspection, Public Education, Advocacy and Enlightenment, Administration Training, Data Management and ICT, Emergency and Rescue Services, Legal Unit and Inter-agency Co-operation.
It is instructive to note that the invitation of the FRSC by the Sierra Leone government was driven by the modest success recorded by the Corps, especially in the areas of massive deployment of ICT infrastructure to manage road safety and traffic administration, resulting in appreciable reduction in road crashes and fatalities and attracting international recognition, including the World Bank which declared FRSC as the best example of a lead agency in Africa whose success story is recommended for replication across the continent.
Interestingly, this technical partnership is not only in compliance with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of people, goods and services but is also envisaged to further the cause of the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) in the Republic of Sierra Leone, which was established in 2008 to promote and reinforce road safety in the sub region with the FRSC Corps Marshal as President.
As Nigerians anxiously wait for the smooth take-off of this commendable partnership between Nigeria and Sierra Leone, it is fervently hoped that the FRSC will not only strive to replicate the Sierra Leone story in other African countries such as Mali and Togo which had earlier indicated interest but also truly live up to last year’s endorsement by the World Bank at Addis Ababa as the best lead agency on road safety in Africa.
OHAERI OSONDU is the Staff Officer, Media Relations, Corps Public Education Office, FRSC HQ, Abujaojay042001@yahoo.com