By Rebecca Ejifoma
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has set plans in motion to impose stiffer penalties for road traffic offenders across board.
The Corps Marshal, Oyeyemi Boboye, who made this disclosure, weekend , also lamented that the commission had lost 74 of its officials due to reckless acts of some drivers in the last 18 months.
Speaking at the Haulage and Logistics Magazine Annual Conference and Exhibition (HULMACE) held in Lagos, Boboye who warned that the commission would stop at nothing to bring killers of his personnel to justice, added that plans were already on for road traffic offenders to be meted stiffer punishment.
He said: “In the last 18months I have lost about 74 lives. We will not stop at ensuring the prosecution of those errand drivers. It is my responsibility to ensure the safety of my personnel on the highway, so if you knock down my personnel and you are running away, I will go after you.”
On one of the root causes of accidents on the roads, Boboye said: “It was discovered during the last Sallah patrols that 30 per cent of articulated vehicle drivers do not see at night. It is the motor boys that drive them.
“So, we conducted vision test on the highway and motor parks and we observed that 30 percent of the articulated vehicle drivers have vision problem and that is also contributing to the crashes.
“We discovered during the interview session that they think if they use glasses, they will lose their jobs. Employers should be training their drivers and encourage them with glasses to enhance driving skills.
“We have observed and presented the report and we hope the employers will be able to address this. We have communicated this to the owners. When drivers have vision problem, they should go to optometrist who will refer them to optamlogist to correct their sights.
“We are also talking to them on the need to have speed limit control on their vehicles. The price has come down to N15,000 so the noise about cost isn’t valid anymore.”
Boboye said a great number of drivers do not know how to drive, blaming driving schools for not living up to expectation.
He said: “We presently have 1,450 registered driving schools and over 500 were suspended due to malpractices and not following the process. This led to the commission suggesting to the 36 state governments to set up modern driving schools in order to checkmate some of these offences.
“Traffic regulation provides that when a driver accumulates 10, 15 or 21 points, he’s to be sent back to the driving school for re-training, but the present driving schools have not provided enough platforms for retraining those drivers for specific offences.
“I am happy to have received positive responses from some state governments because it is another means of internally generated revenue for them.”
Earlier, the Managing Director of A&A Global Leasing Services, Mrs. Oluwaseye Yomi-Soleye appealed to government at all levels to rehabilitate roads, noting that the after effect of the bad roads cause elongated trips and cause untold hardships.
She said: “This is a major challenge for haulers. We will like the Federal Government to please look into this. We do not allow night driving in my company. As a matter of policy, all our drivers park once it’s 7pm. I think the problem of lack of training is mostly with those unprofessional haulers on the streets.
“We train our drivers regularly and do recertification. They have to go through these trainings before they can be allowed to enter the premises of our clients. We have standard trackers, speed limiters on all our vehicles to ensure compliance from our drivers. They are not to drive above 60km/ hour. Aside that, we have facilities to monitor their behaviours on the wheel.”
In his remark, the convener of the conference Alfred Okugbeni praised the government for taking steps to emplace intermodal transportation, adding that it was a sure way to reduce road traffic disasters.
He said: “From what we see, the government is already talking about intermodal. In more developed environment, from the port, we use rail, and from the rail stations we use trucks, for distribution, so that is what we mean by intermodal transportation.
“The first thing is to look at the law, regarding the rail transportation in Nigeria. I think it is in the exclusive list, something is being done in the National Assembly to address that because in a place like America, we have private companies owning rail tracks, that also helps private companies to have wagon that can be on these rail tracks.
” So, instead of having a 100 trucks for example, we can have 10 wagons that pull the 100 coaches. They will do the same job. That is what is being proposed at the moment.”