The Assistant Corps Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Williams Charles, has commended the University for its various achievements, saying that it had lived up to its name. Mr. Charles noted that the Directorate of Works and Services of the University, has promoted good maintenance culture “when it comes to the real safety equipments that are meant to be in vehicles, as well as keeping the vehicles in good shape”.
The FRSC boss, who recently visited the University alongside officers of the Commission, stressed that their mission was to carry out the Annual Inspection and Certification Programme in line with the National Road Traffic Regulation of 2012, as he disclosed that any government, private, religious or corporate organisation with a minimum of five vehicles, must register as a fleet operator in Nigeria. Explaining the rationale behind the registration as a fleet operator, he stated that “in registering as a fleet operator, it means you have keyed into the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS), which entails the following: an established safety unit that is manned by certified safety manager; possession of road-worthy vehicles that have met the Minimum Safety Standards; and trained drivers that are qualified and licensed to operate safely on the road.
He added that the purpose of the Annual Inspection and Certification Programme was to check if the fleet operators were meeting up with the safety standards stipulated by the RTSSS. According to him, “during the inspection, three things were inspected and certified: do the vehicles meet the minimum safety standard? Do the drivers meet the minimum safety standard? And does the operator meet the minimum standards for the vehicles and drivers, to optimally operate?
Shedding light on the activities of the Commission, he revealed that if an organisation does not meet the above-mentioned standards, going into enforcement should be the last step. “First of all, you need to enlighten and educate before enforcing”, he added. Commenting on the stickers placed on the vehicles, he said that it implied that the vehicle had been inspected and met the minimum safety standard. He, however, said that if deficiencies were recorded in a vehicle, no sticker would be placed on it until it had met the right standard, as the sticker would last for a year.
On the certification of a car to be road-worthy, he disclosed that the task of testing the road worthiness of a car rests on the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs), while the FRSC was concerned with issues of vehicles meeting the minimum safety requirements. He stated that the check-list goes as far as checking the floor of the vehicle to know if it is hazardous to the occupants and if the head-rest of the seats were adjustable or not. Other responsibilities include ensuring that vehicles had seatbelts, head/rear lights, wipers, tires, sound chassis and first-aid box, which were always missing from most of the vehicles. He stressed that all roads in Nigeria were public roads used by road users such as animals, cyclists, pedestrians, motor-bike operators, among others.
Enlightening the staff on what should be found in a first-aid box of a vehicle, Mr. Charles said that such requirements, based on the highway code, include: disinfectant, bandage, plaster and other materials that could be used before getting to a qualified doctor in case of an emergency, pointing out that reckless driving habits were common among some uniformed men and drivers of corporate organisations, whose vehicles often break the rule of illegal overtaking. “We exercise what we call preferential enforcement or Roll Call of Shame, whereby a marked vehicle driving against traffic would be shown. We also have flying ticket whereby we record the plate number, the day, time and route and this ticket (on University staff vehicles), which would be handed-over to the Vice-Chancellor, who would, in turn, handle the issue internally. Sometimes, to avoid fracas and endangering other road users, we let it go; to take administrative processes”.
On the Speed Limiting Device, he said that by law and under the National Road Traffic Law, all vehicles on Nigerian roads were supposed to be installed with the device, adding that the law had been on for a long time, but FRSC had not enforced it until now that the alarming rate of crashes were caused by over speeding, where lives were lost and the country was gradually losing people of the productive age. “So, as a responsible government, installing such devices has to be ensured and that currently, for the first phase of this exercise, it is limited to commercial vehicles and fleet operators and based on its success, it would be installed in more vehicles”, he stated.
He said further that FRSC had always sustained the vigorous and comprehensive public enlightenment and education programmes, using all forms of media, such as the social media, print media, television and radio regularly. He, therefore, gave kudos to such the public enlightenment efforts, which had made people to now know that tyres expire by encouraging motorists to try as much as possible to buy new tyres, adding that “at the end of the day, the time a brand new tyre would last for your vehicle takes a longer period than that of a used tire”.
Present at the meeting were the Chief Driver of the University, Mr. Haruna Adekunle; Senior Technical Officer, Works and Services, Mr. Bamidele Rasaq and the Deputy Route Commander, Mr. Dada Adeyemi. Others were the Assistant Route Commanders, Mr. Adigun Samuel; Mr. Aju Peter and Road Marshal I, Mr. Ajao Uthman.