Worried by the outright disregards for traffic and environmental laws, the Kaduna State government recently set up an agency to entrench sanity and ensure the safety of residents. John Shiklam writes
For residents of the Northern City of Kaduna, the establishment of the Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency (KASTELEA) came as a big relief considering the reckless and outright disregards to traffic rules by many road users, especially motorists.
Worse is the manner in which animals, especially cows are seen along major roads in some parts of the metropolis, thereby causing serious traffic hazards and congestion.
With the induction of 2,503 marshals of the agency by Governor Nasir el-Rufai, the stage is set to put a stop to the lawlessness that has become an acceptable norm within the metropolis and other cities in the state.
Many residents who spoke to THISDAY on the establishment of the agency, applauded Governor el-Rufai for having the political will to establish the organisation, saying that it will bring about sanity among road users and ensure safety on city roads.
The bill establishing the agency was passed by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in 2014.
Fashioned along the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), KASTELEA is empowered by law to, among others, direct and control traffic on public roads and high ways in the state in order to decongest them.
The law also empowers the agency to impound vehicles that are not properly parked along public roads and highways in the state as well as remove vehicles that cause traffic hold up.
The agency is also charged with the responsibility of educating and enlightening road users and members of the public on the proper use of roads as well as to enhance and designate bus stops and bus terminals.
The agency prescribes fines and sanctions against driving without license, driving by persons below the age of 18, driving unlicensed vehicle, disobeying traffic signs and traffic lights, driving under the influence of alcohol, riding motor cycle without crash helmet, driving vehicle with non functional lamps, exceeding prescribed speed limit, among others.
KASTELEA is also charged with the responsibility of impounding vehicles that are not properly parked along public roads and highways; to designate the route to be followed by vehicles generally or vehicles of the class which they belong a particular category of road; to control noise which constitutes nuisance, stop stray and wandering animals among several others.
Various fines are prescribed for violating the rules and regulations ranging from N1,000 to N200,000.
The General Manger of the Agency, Col. Abdulkadir Zubairu (rtd) at the induction of the marshals, urged citizens of the state to embrace the current wind of change and obey traffic rules.
He said the 2,503 marshals comprising young men and women were given rigorous training to carry out their functions.
Addressing the marshals at a colourful ceremony at the Murtala Square, Governor el-Rufai called on residents of the state to support the agency to ensure a decent, disciplined and law abiding society.
“When we took the decision to reorganise KASTELEA, our objective was to secure a properly-grounded agency with personnel who owed their employment to clear procedures, and with the requisite training to deliver the expected services.
“Today’s event confirms that, by and large, these goals have been attained. I want to use this opportunity to salute the Board and Management of KASTELEA for the work they have done in training these young men and women,” the governor said.
According to him, KASTELEA has a major role in upholding public order in Kaduna State, stressing that its marshals will be on major roads, enforcing compliance with traffic rules and conducting checks to ensure that all vehicles plying the roads are properly licensed and are road-worthy.
The governor said KASTELEA officers had been trained to be firm, and to conduct their duties with courtesy and politeness, adding that the tactics of the ruffian are not necessary for law enforcement.
“As we demonstrated when we disbanded the old VIO (Vehicle Inspection Officer) and withdrew their operatives from the roads, this government is of the firm belief that no public agency or its officials can be allowed to interpret their role as an exercise in oppression.
“Government work should not provide a cover for uncouth conduct. Rather, KASTELEA will seek and sustain the informed consent of citizens with enlightenment campaigns, transparent rules and their impartial enforcement.
“To succeed in its new role, KASTELEA will require the support of the public. All residents of Kaduna State have a common interest in seeing that our roads are safe, that the vehicles which ply these roads are licensed, road-worthy and are driven by persons properly certified to do so,” he said.
El-Rufai warned that the traffic bottlenecks caused by illegal parking, and the safety risks caused by people who jump traffic lights will not be condoned.
“We can all agree that it is not a constitutional right for anyone to constitute a nuisance on public roads, or to imperil the safe use of the road by other citizens.
“When a person is deemed to be in violation of traffic rules, KASTELEA officials will issue documents specifying the fine, but they cannot collect it.
“All fines are payable only by electronic means or through cash payments to accounts specified by the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADIRS), the only agency permitted to collect revenues due to the state government.
“Let it be clear that KASTELEA is set up to promote public safety. That is the priority. Fines and other penalties are merely sanctions designed to encourage lawful behavior,” he said.
The governor noted that officials of the agency had been recruited and trained to serve the public, saying that government expects them to live up to the standards of their training, and to be efficient, dedicated and fair in their conducts.
“Do not permit yourself to even be tempted by, much less succumb, to the disease of the uniform, a condition in which wearing an authorised piece of fabric gives the wearer an illusion of omnipotence. You are not God. You are not even masters. You are public servants, and you must discharge the role with dignity and unwavering politeness,” the governor warned.
The governor said further that the agency has spent time recruiting young people and training them for the assignment and urged the first set of 2,503 brand new officers to make KASTELEA an agency the entire state can be proud of.
“I urge members of the public to fully support KASTELEA as it gets to work for the good of our state,” the governor appealed.