Following the unprecedented catastrophe of unparalleled proportion that was about to engulf the Road Transport Sector in Nigeria, where over 40,881 crashes were recorded in the year 1976 alone; concerned citizens at home and in the Diaspora led by Prof Wole Soyinka stood to liberate their fatherland from the shackles of Road Traffic crashes.
It was these and many other factors that informed the decision of the then Military President, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in 1988 to establish via decree no 45 of 1988 as amended by decree no 35 of 1992, later codified as FRSC Act (CAP 141) Laws of the Federation 1990 and FRSC Act CAP F19, LFN, 2004; FRSC (Establishment) Act, 2007, the Federal Road Safety Corps as a strategic intervention to address the ugly trend of road crashes.
The Federal Road Safety Corps has ever since its establishment operated in tandem with global standards- bringing down the trend of crashes and reducing fatalities on the road through robust public education on the use of the highways, prompt rescue services, removal of obstructions, effective patrol operations, and stakeholder cooperation, amongst others.
Unlike other agencies of government, the establishment of FRSC was in conformity with the lead agency concept recommended by the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) that member nations should dedicate an agency of government to lead in coordinating Road safety management as a best practice to combat the scourge of death and injuries from road transport crash (RTC).
Prior to the establishment of FRSC in 1988, WHO had adjudged Nigeria, the second only behind Ethiopia, as the most dangerous country in the world to drive a motor vehicle.
In its three decades of unbroken service to humanity as a lead agency in traffic and safety management, FRSC has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of Traffic Engineering, Road Safety Administration, Traffic Management and Crash reduction.
The Corps has now come of age after going through good times and tides. In its 30 years journey, it recorded for instance, a commendable 62.4 per cent reduction in crash from 40,881 in 1976 to 25,792 within its first operational year alone. In this regard, it is instructive to state that the Corps has doggedly fought RTC from the unacceptable 40,881 of 1976 down to 5,993 in 2016 and 4,418 in 2017. The statistics above shows that the Corps is gaining grounds accordingly.
To this end, through the use of state of the art Information Technology facilities, the Corps has been able to enhance its operational capacity aimed at promoting public safety and security.
In compliance with the ease of doing business, the Corps has over three decades designed and operated 24 web applications for its operational activities so as to create an accessible platform for the general public.
Some of these applications cover the Uniform Licensing scheme, under which is the ONE DRIVER ONE RECORD which enables FRSC track and match records of drivers with their driver’s licence, vehicle number plate, traffic offences and others in a single view.
Introduction of the toll free 122 emergency number and a 24 hour call centre established to reduce response time for crash victims; a single step that has reduced emergency response time from 50 minutes to 15 minutes thereby decreasing the number of fatalities in crash situations. More so, the introduction of Verification Portal for driver’s licence and number plates, the introduction of the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) for uniformity and harmonization of fleet operators in the country, the Driving School Standardisation Scheme (DSSP), the introduction of the speed limiting device whose enforcement began on 1st February, 2017, and the vehicle tracking system among others, are policies formulated and implemented to fight road traffic crash in the country to extinction.
Again, it is noteworthy to look at the direction of the present leadership of Dr Boboye Oyeyemi’s swift response to the incessant abuse of traffic rules which led to the putting together of the OPERATION COBRA to address certain life-threatening traffic-related offences like Dangerous driving, Route violation, Use of Phone while driving, Traffic Light violation and Drunk driving. This singular step became instrumental to the decline in crash rate in 2017. According to the Corps Marshal, offenders apprehended by the Operation Cobra squad are usually referred to a government health facility for Emotional Stability Test and so far over 200 offenders have been referred to different health facilities for examination.
As a performance- driven organization with clearly set measurable Key performance Indicators, FRSC is today, the only law enforcement organization in Nigeria certified by the International Standard Organization. Considering that road transport sector in Nigeria accounts for over 90 per cent of passengers and freight movement, this exerts undue pressure on the FRSC in discharging its cardinal responsibilities. In view of the foregoing, the Corps has over the years embarked on several reforms which include but not limited to the following:
Development of a national road safety strategy roadmap, improved operational efficiency, enhanced regulatory environment, accelerated response capability to situations that needed immediate actions. The Corps, therefore, defined the following paths which were in tandem with UN decade of action as well as the mantra of functional 21st century organization by chatting a path to meet the Accra declaration of 50 per cent reduction in fatality by 2015, achieve UN decade of action on road Safety of 50 per cent fatality reduction by 2020, and place Nigerian roads within the league of 20 global safest roads by 2020.
To achieve the stated targets, the Corps has developed transformational initiatives focused on People, Processes and Technology (PPT) that is why today not only does its staff pride as the most disciplined but the Corps stands as the best Information Technology (IT) driven organization in Nigeria with its robust data base and over 95 percentage digitalized administrative and operational procedures.
The Corps under different governmental and administrative leaderships, within this period under review, has proven to allay the menace of road traffic crashes in the past three decades. Achievements of such were based on many pillars and strict implementation of its Corporate Strategic goals.
With its National headquarters, 12 Zonal Commands, 37 Sector Commands, over 201 Unit Commands, 209 outposts, 27 road side clinics, 41 emergency Ambulance Points, over 214 driver’s license centres/ work stations, three number plate plants, a driver’s license production print farm, an academy and a training school, 645 patrol vehicles, 150 administration vehicles, 106 ambulances, 22 Tow trucks and 204 bikes; the Corps has been able to carry out its statutory functions of creating a safer motoring environment through full deployment and utilization of its workforce ranging from, its 21,000 regular marshals, 20,768 special marshals with the President of the Federal Republic as its Patron, and 23,660 road Safety clubs.
It is therefore instructive to state that the Corps in recent times has noted that road safety is a shared responsibility; hence in the era of the present Corps Marshal Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, establishment of State Traffic Agencies was encouraged to further complement the function of the FRSC within the states. The Corps also embarks on, in consultation with stakeholders who have become more involved through the mechanism of the special marshals, celebrity Special Marshals and road Safety clubs, the deployment of FRSC personnel to Tank Farms has to a large degree, dwindled the rate of crashes associated with articulated vehicles, particularly tankers carrying petroleum products. Through its Safe-to- Load initiative, articulated vehicle have been subjected to checks before they are allowed to load from the various depots across the country with trained personnel of the Corps undertaking routine checks to ensure strict compliance.
On the global scene, FRSC takes leadership role of West African road Safety Organisation (WARSO) as part of measures to scale up the bar on road safety management within the West African region. Further to this, the Corps has provided technical assistance to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia and so on. It has secured implementation of a policy of robust engagement with international organizations for capacity building including World Bank project on Safe corridor Project etc; got Nigeria’s accession to the Geneva and Vienna conventions on Road Signs and Markings, despite over six decades of the convention and also made Nigeria the first African country to be admitted into international Traffic Safety Data analysis group, IRTAD.
These efforts have given the organization awards both national and international especially during a workshop under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the FRSC was adjudged the best lead agency on road safety management in Africa.
In his presentation at the workshop on Lead Agency Good Practise, the Sub-Saharan Transport specialist, Per Mathiasen, specifically lauded the Federal Road Safety Corps’ commitment towards promoting best road safety practices in Africa through its exemplary leadership of the West African Road Safety Organization(WARSO) such as the introduction of proper regulation of vehicle movement and initiation and implementation of sustainable road safety strategies by relevant government agencies as measures for safer road use in West Africa.
He also commended the FRSC for living up to its mandate within the Nigerian context by developing an effective reporting mechanism for road crashes especially in 2008.
According to him, the high figures in 2008 road crashes has since been trending down due to the FRSC improved enforcement strategies, adding that the downward sliding in road crashes presently witnessed in Nigeria, is not replicated in any other country he visited during a capacity review exercise.
In the same vein, the Transport specialist who attributed the Corps’ success story to its establishment under the Presidency with clear mandate and budget, also identified the introduction of a world class drivers’ licensing standard by the FRSC which is difficult to forge, building and maintenance of a dedicated work force including regular marshals and a volunteer arm and optimal deployment of technology, a feat which he described as unparalleled in Africa, South of the Sahara.
Using the FRSC as case study of lead agency on road safety management, Mathiasen outlined the five pillars of the United Nations decade of action on road safety: management, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer road users(enlightenment and enforcement) and emergency response to road crashes, stressing that the Corps has through its numerous initiatives, fulfilled all these through sustained advocacy, policy formulation/implementation, collaboration with other relevant agencies, effective utilization of information and communication technology to deliver on its statutory mandate.
The SSATP transport specialist also identified data utilization and transparency as one of the Corps’ quick win strategies which has ensured effective management of traffic-related matters through a weekly reportage of traffic trends, utilization of data for performance monitoring and targeted interventions, effective monitoring, evaluation and planning, in addition to transparent evaluation of trends and sustained drive for improved performance.
Mathiasen also highlighted some critical areas in the Nigerian Road Safety Strategy (2012-2016) such as digitalized accident information, co-ordinated funding mechanism, design standards, road safety audit, need for a 24/7 enforcement operations and the development of FRSC tactics for awareness creation and interface with the motoring public.
With 35 per cent of the nation’s 198,000 kilometres road network being motorable on present estimated population of over nine million registered vehicles and projected 40 million by 2020, it is imperative to consider adopting the G-8 summit resolution in Nigeria which prescribes the dedication of 10 per cent of road contracts to road safety, strong legal frame work to enhance the capacity for enforcement of traffic rules and regulations, improved funding backed with a strong political will and concerted, sustained efforts across a range of sectors , will no doubt put Nigeria on the same pedestal with other nations across the globe. Acting now will lead to a realistic reduction to 2.0 deaths per 10,000 vehicles by 2020.
– Kazeem is Corps Public Education Officer, FRSC.