The FRSC has done remarkably well
Established in 1988 by then military leader, General Ibrahim Babangida as an interventionist agency to address the menace of road accidents, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has over the past three decades made considerable strides in fulfilling that mandate. It therefore came as no surprise that its 30th anniversary was recently celebrated with pomp.
It is indeed noteworthy that prior to the FRSC establishment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had adjudged Nigeria the second most dangerous country in the world to drive a vehicle, after (Ethiopia). But the FRSC has succeeded in changing that narrative such that from 40,881 road crashes in 1976 when there were fewer vehicles in the country, only 4,418 of such accidents were recorded last year. Yet, according to Nobel Laureate and FRSC pioneer Chairman, Professor Wole Soyinka, the process of changing the mentality of Nigerians from the fatalistic beliefs they had developed toward road traffic crashes to the point where they now drive with safety consciousness was not an easy task.
At 30, the FRSC has made more than passing impact on the life of Nigerian road users. The commission’s campaigns have helped in reducing the carnage on our roads and have made travelling, especially during festive periods like Sallah and Christmas, less of a nightmare. So all factors considered, the investment has been worth it and the creation of the FRSC by the Babangida regime can now easily be justified. Today we have a commission with globally acknowledged templates for measurable impact and service outcomes. This is no accident, but the result of a clear institutional focus on operations, people and processes.
The commission has made great investments in human capital development and has used mostly modern, merit-based templates for staff recruitment. This has gone hand –in- hand with enhanced staff welfare and improved service delivery. Today we have a Nigerian road using populace that is better able to appreciate best global road safety practices, including the need for private sector and government involvement in road safety issues. The on-going robust public advocacy on road crash reduction and intensified routine patrols are fully complemented by effective rescue services with optimal utilisation of IT and re-alignment of operational strategies.
Today there is increased FRSC presence on the highways, with effective preventive patrols and prompt response to road crashes. The toll- free telephone number 122 for road traffic emergencies has created a seamless communication gateway between the commission and the motoring public, shoring up early reportage of road crashes. The implementation of international vehicle transit charges at selected Nigeria border posts has also enhanced safety and co-ordination of trans-border movement. This is in addition to the “One Driver One Record’’ initiative, which allows for tracking and matching a driver with his driver licence, vehicle number plate, insurance and traffic offences in a single view. Meanwhile, the order and control in motor vehicle administration and vehicle insurance management from the FRSC have improved collaboration among security agencies.
While we commend the FRSC for the efforts of the past 30 years, we must also highlight the fact that the response to accident emergencies still falls far short of global standards. While the number of crashes may have reduced due to preventive measures, there is also the need to reduce the number of fatalities after accidents by prompt responses. Fortunately, the current Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi has promised to enhance the community first responder scheme while enhancing training and development of personnel in order to reduce the deaths arising from road carnage.