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.
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