How we achieved less road fatalities in FCT - Gora
Mr. Wobin Ayuba Gora is the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). He is instrumental to the crackdown on fake driver's licenses in Abuja. In this interview with Laraba MUREY, he weighs in on the importance of alternative driving routes, usage of sirens, valid driver's licence and why overloading is high risk in cause of accident in the FCT. Excerpts:
What are the challenges of ensuring road safety in a city like Abuja?
In the FCT, you will see that the influx of vehicles, people coming into the FCT is increasing on a daily basis and of cause usage of the road goes hand-in-hand with the population in that particular environment. Let me say 70% to 80% of people who work in the city centre stay in the suburbs especially the Nyanya, Mararaba, Masaka, Keffi axis. These are places that you will see quite a number of people, also we have people coming in from Kubwa-Bwari axis, to some extent the roads have been put in place. I believe by the time that is completed it will also reduce the bottleneck of traffic along that axis.
But where we have a very serious situation is the Nyanya axis. it's unfortunate or fortunately that the distance between the FCT boundary to the city centre is not too much, 90% of the residents of that axis is in Nasarawa State but I think the situation of the road is too narrow.
One major issue there that is a thing of concern is that there are no alternative routes, if they were alternative routes, that okay from Orozo or Karashi you can burst out at Apo Roundabout. When there are alternative routes, I can assure you traffic will not be concentrated on one location.
Now one other thing that I also noticed is that people are very impatient. Impatience in the sense that there are some roads five lanes and the empty into two lanes, traffic will not be static, it will be moving even if it is just at snail rate, so we have situations like that. Along the Airport Road coming to town when you get to the City Gate we have three major lanes on the express, we have two on the service lane and all these empty into two lanes that will take you to the main city centre, except for few of them who might want to go towards the Apo roundabout axis or area 1, you see some on fast lane they now have to cross to the service lane all these are things we experience as genesis of some of this holdups on a daily basis. The same thing along the Kubwa and Katampe express so that small distance can create a holdup from that Katampe- Aso radio even to Dan oil.
Can you give a hint of the accident statistics on a monthly basis and what efforts your sector has taken to address those?
I may be able to give you some bit of it. In 2020, we recorded about 974 crashes in the FCT. In 2019, we recorded 1,042. When you now look at it, you discover that we had about 14% reduction. In the FCT, when you look at vehicles that were involved in the crashes and was fatal in 2020 about 158, about 151 in 2019. So there were increase of vehicles that were fatal by 4% but if you look at the fatality those who were killed in these fatal crises in 2020 were 201, while those who were killed in 2019 were 248 despite the fact that we recorded more fatal crashes in 2020. But the fatality was more in 2019 than in 2020, perhaps the rate of overloading was very high maybe there is a little reduction of overloading in 2020 but was much higher in 2019.
In 2020, about 649 people were injured when you look at it there's a 3% reduction in the number of people that were injured. We take the statistics of these happenings so that we tell people this is a danger of their actions.
Abuja is a city of the big man with sirens and sometimes reckless convoys. Readers would want to know how far the FCT Sector Command is tackling this issue?
We are working in collaboration with the police on this. Recently we put up a task team to arrest vehicles, especially vehicles, that are carrying spying number plates, vehicles that are carrying ambassador number plates, vehicles that are carrying sirens when they are not supposed to. You are not a security outfit why should you have siren?
Siren is majorly used for fire service vehicles when they want to go and tackle a fire outbreak, ambulances when they are taking victims to the hospital at least to get right of way. We are not on unaware that some people because they feel they have the money, they will buy a pickup install the light beam, install siren and then anywhere they are going that pickup is in front blasting siren for them. We are working hand-in-hand with the police in the FCT to see how that can be stopped
With the deployment of ICT in license acquisition, racketeering still persists, though not perversely, what measures in ensuring foolproof license processing?
Anybody that goes to a third party that wants his licence to be done, I think we have spoken at length in several media houses. I can tell you when I was in the FCT as the head of operations, I was the first to crackdown on people who are carrying fake drivers licences,
Before when you stop 10 vehicles, you may not get one that has a valid driver's licence, if you are not in that line you won't know that it is a fake driver's licence. There are physical features that you can see apart from going into the system to check if that licence was produced in Road Safety. People started getting the information as to how to get a genuine drivers licence. Today, I will not say the fake drivers licences are not existing but I will not tell you for the past 3 to 4 years, it has reduced.
Most road safety personnel that were into drivers licences racketeering were tried and were sacked from the job. But let me say anybody that wants to get driver's licence can apply or even do the renewal online or do a bypass. We encourage people to do bypass. in those days that we used to have situation that you do a licence for 3 months you did not get the licence, that era is gone. If you don't get a text message come to the office where you were captured to ask them to check for your driver's licence. So people should not cut corners, don't sit under the comfort of your office or house and say you are looking for drivers licence, nobody is going to process your driver's licence for you, they may end up bringing a fake one for you. How will you feel about it? Go headlong to the location where these licences are being produced if you want to renew, don't use a third party when you are dealing with somebody in his office when the chips are down he can easily be traced but when you go to a third-party when the unexpected happens, people should not pretend that they did not get this information the headquarters have done enlightenment enough, other state commands, unit commands have also done enough. I believe if people should do the needful themselves you don't go to look for a third party to cut corners you won't have problems or issues of racketeering.
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