Friday, 7 December 2018

FRSC ,FERMA Rolls Out Strategic Plans For Accident Free Xmas Season

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) are not taking lightly the Federal Executive Council’s, FEC’s directive to ensure free flow of traffic during the Yuletide. Yesterday, the FRSC activated 201 mobile courts and unveiled plans to deploy 21,000 personnel for duty; FERMA identified 353 critical roads for repair .

The Christmas and New Year festivities are around the corner again. To many Nigerians, the Yuletide is like a pressure cooker, with heavy movement of passengers and cargoes, across the country’s. Accidents have become inevitable  during the period.

Last year, FRSC recorded 4,410 deaths from 7,937 road crashes with 23,392 injured. The figure is lower than the 4,527 deaths and recorded  in 2016. 26,749 injured.

But the FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, while giving a performance review in Abuja early in the year, described the reduction in crashes and fatalities as a success story. Oyeyemi attributed the result to the corps enlightenment programmes and the support from stakeholders, including the security services, media and the transport unions.

He said: “The corps worked assiduously in 2017 to bring down the rate of road traffic crashes nationwide as we recorded 7,937 crashes as against 8,560 in 2016, indicating a decrease of 7.28 per cent, while the number of people killed in 2017 was 4,410 as against 4,527 in 2016. This represents a reduction pf 2.58 per cent.”

But road accidents are mostly recorded during the Christmas and the New Year period

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) is, however, not leaving the annual pathetic scenarios to chance this year. At its meeting on Wednesday, it gave a marching order to the FRSC and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to ensure that commuters enjoy a new experience.

On the heels of the mandate, FRSC Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi and FERMA Managing Director Nurudeen Rafindadi, an engineer, briefed State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on measures put in place to ensure smooth movement of persons and goods during the season.

According to Oyeyemi, the FRSC has activated 201 mobile courts and deployed 21,000 personnel across the country. The mobile courts, according to him, would prosecute recalcitrant drivers, who violate traffic rules and special patrol will last till January 15, next year. The Air Force, he said, has allocated two helicopters for aerial surveillance during the period.

According to him, over 1,000 patrol vehicles have been deployed.  The Corps Marshal added that FRSC offices across the country would be shut down for operation, except for drivers’ licence.

He said: “Further to the directive of FEC, FRSC and FERMA have been working together. We normally forward the FRSC audit report to FERMA so that appropriate maintenance aspect is being taken, especially at very critical areas. For the end of the year patrols, we have divided the operations into three segments – that is pre-Christmas, post-Christmas and post-New Year. So, this will stretch from December 15 to January 15 and we are deploying over 21,000 personnel to critical corridors with over 1,000 patrol vehicles, including recovery vehicles, ambulances and the bikes. The country has been partitioned into critical 52 corridors across the country.” The road safety boss noted that, in conjunction with FERMA, the focus for the end of the year will be on critical areas on the highways to ensure free flow of traffic.

“Our principal responsibility during this period is to ensure free flow of traffic; that could mean that as you are travelling, you may likely experience some gridlock in one or two areas in the cause of the ongoing construction work.  So, we are not talking about enforcement; we are talking about the issue of getting the travellers getting home safely.

“Also, the recovery vehicles have been deployed to critical locations and we are also working with private tow trucks operators so that peradventure if there is any breakdown of any vehicle or truck, immediately we will be able to remove all these obstructions which normally lead to gridlock. We are not saying there will be no crash, but the focus is that let there be zero death. If there is any crash, we will have our advanced life support ambulances deployed,” Oyeyemi said.

The Corps Marshall also urged members of the public to make use of its toll free number, 122, whenever they get to a crash scene before FRSC personnel get there.

“They should be able to call 122 and inform us so that we can deploy appropriate personnel and the required vehicle or whatever is required. I want to assure the public that we will be able to reduce the stress for the travellers. The government has done its own part, adequate funds have been provided and we believe that with proper deployment of personnel, principally for traffic control operations, we will be able to get everybody home safely.”

On why the operation is in three segments, he said: “Because it peaks by the time it’s Christmas and don’t forget that December 24 is on Monday. So, a lot of movements will occur from Friday, Saturday, Sunday and will peak on Monday. One thing I want to advise Nigerians is for them to plan their journey but we are going to frown at overloading.

Any vehicle that is overloaded, he said, will not be allowed to continue the journey.

“Like we did during the last Sallah festival, we conducted periodic vision tests for the driver; that was when we raised the alarm that about 30 per cent of the drivers have vision problem.

“Any of them that we see, we are going to ground them and look for alternatives for the passengers to get to their destination safely. We are already working with NURTW peradventure we see a driver with poor sight; you will have to provide the alternative because government’s interest is for everybody to get to their destination safely.

“We believe that with the advocacy and the education that is going on, we will be able to get to everybody in all the motor parks.

“For the mobile courts, 201 mobile courts will be activated nationwide next week. The essence is that peradventure, there are some recalcitrant drivers we will be able to deal with the situation.”

He called on all road users to give maximum support to the corps and FERMA officials, noting that FERMA is still doing palliative work on the roads.

Oyeyemi added: “So, areas where rehabilitation is going on, let us show a level of discipline and appreciate the efforts of government in ensuring that the roads are fixed during this dry season so that we can all get to our destinations safely.

“We are also going to have about 40 road camps nationwide. Road camps are where the personnel will not go home. They will be running shifts, work late at night. They will be at the camps overnight so that as early as 4am, they will be up. We will also make use of the road side clinics. We have 26 of them nationwide in addition to the road camps we are setting up.

“We have on Lagos-Ibadan expressway because it has the highest volume of traffic and because of the construction and rehabilitation of the roads, some two-lane carriage ways are comprised into a single lane. This will bring a kind of slow movements of vehicles.

“So, we need more understanding, we will be giving traffic situation report every hour as from next week, but we need the support of the people to understand that it is not a crash. When you have three lanes reduced to one, especially during this period, we should not attempt to face incoming vehicle and go and face a logjam completely.

“We need to warn that when we see those recalcitrant drivers, those are the ones we are going to take to the mobile courts for prosecution.”

He said the FRSC will prosecute those found engaging in drink driving.

“We have purchased digital alcoholisers. I want to assure members of the public that we will lessen the stress of this end of the year patrol 2018/2019.” he said

According to him, the FRSC always collaborate with the military every year.

“Every year, the Nigeria Air Force normally supports us with helicopters for aerial surveillance. One of the successes recorded is the ability to carry out aerial surveillance patrol during the festive period. This year is not an exemption that we are going to get the support of the Chief of Air Staff for the release of two helicopters for aerial surveillance,” he said.

On the issue of sales of alcohol, he said it is a battle that must be won.

On punitive measures for rules violations, he said: “That is why we have 201 mobile courts actually. Presently, we have the highest number of lawyers in the corps, but you don’t need lawyers to prosecute road traffic offences. We have about 120 lawyers and I think it is about the highest and for the recruitment we are making, we are taking another 50 lawyers, ultimately we hope to get 200 lawyers.

“But we only need prosecutor. The Act gives power to any personnel of the Corp to prosecute traffic offenders. They have all been trained.”

On the issue of bad spots, he said: “You do a lot of traffic controls at the bad spots and if you ensure proper traffic control at the dark spots, it leads to log down at this critical festive period. And like the MD FERMA said about the efforts being made, 353 critical locations is a major work and that is why FRSC and FERMA are working together. I want to assure that this year will be much better and effectively coordinated as directed by Mr. President.

“It is not only in December that we intensify our work like this. We work 365 days a year and we have just raised the level higher a bit to shut down office by December. By next week Friday, FRSC offices will be shut down nationwide, except the drivers licences work stations; everybody will be on the road, including my humble self.

“Look at the successes recorded on the Asaba Bridge. For the past two years, I assured Nigerians that nobody will sleep on the bridge and see what is happening and FERMA is already working on that small bad section before the Bridge itself in Asaba. Once there is free flow of traffic in Asaba, then the traffic is moving.

“We must raise the level of end of the year patrol, which is combined because people are going for holiday and what have you because there is high density of traffic.”

On military check-points causing long queues, he noted: “We are taking it up with the Chief of Defence Staff so that this can be relax a bit at the peak period. But we cannot jeopardise what the military is doing in terms of security, but we will work with them.”

He said that overloading will also be prosecuted at the mobile courts.

Rafindadi stated that palliative repairs would be carried out on 353 critical roads in 16 major corridors of the country.

He said: “Consequent on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Works directives that roads, which are mostly used by commuters during the festive season, should be made motorable and comfortable to ensure safe passage and avoid the usually occurring perennial traffic gridlocks, there has been a series of coordination between the ministry, FERMA and the FRSC.

“This coordination has been going on at least for the last five weeks. In addition to the major construction works that are being done by the Ministry of Works, the agency has identified about 353 critical roads that need palliative measures specifically during this period.

“The bulk of this work has been allocated between the Department of Construction and Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Works and FERMA. To realise this goal, the agency has been assigned 16 very critical and prominent roads that need to be addressed immediately within the period.

“The agency has put in place an implementation plan for the maintenance and repair of these identified federal roads as well as other roads that are frequently used by motorists, especially during this period even the roads that are outside the ministries’ jurisdiction.

“Efforts have been made towards deployment of resources and personnel for the repair of these roads that have been assigned to FERMA. Some of our field officers are already engaging workers for direct labour and those roads that we identified and agreed with the ministry, we designate into two priorities:

“Priority one, a lot of the work are concentrated around 16 major routes, they include: Oyo-Ibadan road in Ogun State, Minna-Tegina road in Niger State, Sheda -Abaji road on the FCT/Kogi State, Abaji-Kotonkarfe road in Kogi State, Itakpe -Federal College of Education Road around Okene in Kogi State, Agbo-Asaba road in Delta State, sections along Benin -Warri road in Delta State, Lokoja-Ajaokuta road in Kogi State, Itobe-Ayangba-Ankpa -Otukpa road in Kogi State, Uyo-James Town road in Akwa Ibom State, Ogoja -Katsina Ala road in Cross River State, Biu road in Gombe State, Damaturu-Mauduguri road in Yobe and Borno State, Bauchi-Jos -Akwanga roads in Plateau and Nasarawa states, Bauch-Potiskum road in Bauchi and Yobe State; Katsina – Jibia road in Katsina State.”

The FERMA boss added: “Like I have said, in addition to these roads, which we tagged as priority one because we identified them jointly with the ministry, there are other arterial roads that we know are frequently used, especially during the holidays season, they have been part of our work all along.

“These roads, we are also deploying personnel and resources and arrangement are been made to move quickly from the first and second week of December. Some of these roads include: Onitsha dual carriage way, Abakalike -Ogoja-Ikom roads, Katsina Ala-Zakibiam-Ukari road, Akwanga-Lafia – Makurdi road, Akwaga-Keffi -Abuja road, Ibadan -Ilesha dual carriageway, Akure -Owo-Eluku road, Owo -Akumgba -Ibilo-Okene road, and Kabba -Amuwo road.

“The implementation plan is in two parts: First part, which has commenced, from the first week of December involved stocking of road repair materials and subsequent palliative repair on identified road sections that are damage along these roads that I mentioned.

“The second part of this implementation is to intensify and expand all ongoing direct labour, specifically along the roads that I mentioned and other major arterial roads with isolated potholes.

“There are many roads that have become a perennial cause for attention for FERMA, especially roads that are leading into major population centres and major urban areas, for instance, Abuja-Keffi road, which is a major gateway into the FCT. This is a road that has a year round attention and by the nature of the problem, they require constant attention.

“The final solution to many of the roads along this corridor should be addressed by total reconstruction of the roads and that project has recently been awarded and has been flagged off by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola about two weeks ago.

“Meanwhile, before the major reconstruction goes into effect, FERMA has been in place and carrying out regular maintenance along the roads every year, particularly in the stretch between A.Y.A, Kugbo and Nyanya-Masaka road. We have undertaken palliative repairs and maintenance works on the road and we will continue to do so, especially during this season.”

According to him, most part of the 36,000 kilometres federal roads have lived beyond their age, spanning above 35 years.

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