Mr. Hy­gi­nus Omeje, the La­gos State Sec­tor Com­man­der of the Fed­eral Road Safety Corps (FRSC) speaks on the chal­lenges faced by the com­mand in man­ag­ing traf­fic, es­pe­cially the La­gos-Ibadan and Apapa- Oshodi ex­press­ways, among oth­ers.

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos Mr. Hy­gi­nus Omeje: Omeje: Omeje: Omeje: Omeje: Omeje:

Dmonths? aily Trust: What is the FRSC’s plan for the em­ber To­wards the end of the year like this, we al­ways step up our cam­paign in terms of en­light­en­ing the mo­tor­ing pub­lic on the proper use of the high­way, which is one of our core man­dates. In La­gos, we have lined up a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties within this pe­riod. To start with, it is im­por­tant that we re­flect on the theme of this year’s em­ber month, which is ‘Right to life on our high­way not a priv­i­lege’. That is peo­ple on our high­ways have to live. Life on our high­way is not ne­go­tiable. To that ef­fect, we would be driv­ing that theme through sev­eral pro­grammes, mo­tor­ized cam­paigns along the streets, and ma­jor high­ways within La­gos.

Cour­tesy stake­hold­ers’ col­lab­o­ra­tion, we have lat­est dig­i­tal breath­a­lyz­ers that we can use to test th­ese drivers. On a daily ba­sis, my men go from one mo­tor park to the other to test them. When you fin­ish load­ing, be­fore you come out, the of­fi­cer would breath­a­lyze you, if it is pos­i­tive, above the blood al­co­holic con­cen­trate, the ve­hi­cle will not go any­where.

DT: Is this breath­a­lyzer only for com­mer­cial drivers? of

No, it is for every driver. Like I said, we do it ran­domly. But you may con­cen­trate on com­mer­cial fleet op­er­a­tors. If you are found to be pos­i­tive, you can­not con­tinue that jour­ney.

DT: What chal­lenges are you fac­ing on the La­gos-Ibadan Ex­press­way, es­pe­cially with the stop­page of work by Julius Berger and RCC?

The zone has what we call spe­cial in­ter­ven­tion pa­trol go­ing on. That spe­cial in­ter­ven­tion pa­trol be­ing an­chored by the zone is to en­sure that Ogun and La­gos syn­er­gize be­cause two of us are un­der that zone too. As much as La­gos ends just by Berger, I can tell you that we cover a great length of it up to even Shagamu turn­ing point. With the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work, it was ac­tu­ally chal­leng­ing man­ag­ing the traf­fic but with ex­tra hands, ex­tra lo­gis­tics, we are able to con­tain it. As we speak now, like you rightly pointed out, Julius Berger is not oper­at­ing in full ca­pac­ity due to paucity of funds and things like that. But a greater part of the road has been quiet resur­faced and ex­panded.

The last one that opened and has given us big re­lief is the one be­tween Re­deemed up to St. Christo­pher Univer­sity. They have re­moved all the bar­ri­ers on that seg­ment and you would no­tice that we now have bet­ter flow than be­fore. But while the work was at its peak, it was re­ally chal­leng­ing man­ag­ing traf­fic on that route. We had cases of peo­ple driv­ing against traf­fic for any lit­tle ob­struc­tion. That is the ma­jor ar­te­rial route of this na­tion. For any bro­ken down ve­hi­cle, there’s al­ways se­ri­ous traf­fic jam. We part­nered Julius Berger in us­ing their cranes to re­move heavy duty trucks that break down. We also part­nered with pri­vate tow truck op­er­a­tors and also repo­si­tioned our own tow truck.

I must point out that even the La­gos State Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (LASEMA) was also giv­ing us sup­port. They have this big equip­ment that even when every other tow truck can­not move it, LASEMA tow truck will al­ways move it. They al­ways re­spond to us de­spite the fact that it is not within La­gos axis.

DT: What about Oshodi/Apapa Ex­press­way where there has been a lot of traf­fic con­ges­tion?

The is­sue of Apapa Ex­press­way is some­thing that ev­ery­body is aware of. The rea­sons are ob­vi­ous and un­til it is ad­dressed holistically, we would keep hav­ing this is­sue.

DT: But it is about traf­fic man­age­ment…

Yes, it is about traf­fic man­age­ment but it goes be­yond man­ag­ing the traf­fic. It is not about de­ploy­ing per­son­nel. What is the ma­jor thing? Lack of hold­ing bay by all the de­pots op­er­a­tors and in­de­pen­dent mar­keters; the ma­jor mar­keters are not the prob­lem. You will not see Mo­bil trucks out­side, you will not see To­tal Trucks out­side, and you will not see Oando. It is the In­de­pen­dent Mar­keters. In all the tank farms, where are the hold­ing bays? No hold­ing bay. So the ve­hi­cles come and line on the road. Th­ese tank farms are sup­posed to have hold­ing bays and they can only take what their hold­ing bays can take. So if we have to ad­dress it holistically, the is­sue of hold­ing bay must be ad­dressed.

DT: How will you re­act to the re­cent ban on FRSC from La­gos me­trop­o­lis by Gov­er­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode?

When the gov­er­nor came in, there was the first La­gos Traf­fic Com­mit­tee which has three sub-com­mit­tees, I chair one of them. Most of the things we iden­ti­fied as the prob­lem of La­gos traf­fic, the gov­er­nor started ad­dress­ing them, in­clud­ing cre­ation of lay-by bus stops; that is why you have the lay­bys at Iyana Owo and the rest of them. He started re­pair­ing roads and we started hav­ing im­proved traf­fic flow.

But the gov­er­nor was still con­cerned that law en­force­ment agen­cies were be­com­ing a clog in the wheel in the course of their ar­rest and he ex­plained that to me. Hith­erto un­known to the gov­er­nor, the Corps Mar­shal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, had, via a cir­cu­lar in Fe­bru­ary, told field com­mands, in states where we have been able to mid-wife state traf­fic man­age­ment agen­cies, to con­cen­trate our op­er­a­tions on crit­i­cal cor­ri­dors, ma­jor high­ways and ex­press­ways, al­low­ing the state traf­fic man­age­ment agen­cies to man­age traf­fic within the states’ city cen­tres. That cir­cu­lar was way back in Fe­bru­ary. The gov­er­nor’s pro­nounce­ment was also mis­con­strued. He only ad­vised the FRSC to con­cen­trate on fringes and high­ways.

Mr. Hy­gi­nus Omeje

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