Have you ever driven past some junctions and noticed how cheerfully some traffic wardens do their job? What motivates them and what challenges do they experience? YIRA-EEBA BEKEE writes.
Everywhere in the country, people complain of hardship. But against the backdrop of the hard economic times the country is facing, there are some who seem to be unaffected as they find so much joy doing their job. Some in this category are the dancing traffic wardens. If you have ever seen one, you would agree that this is quite far from exaggeration.
Some of these wardens actually make reasonable bodily movements while directing traffic as if they are dancing to the rhythm of a song whose beat leaves one with no option but to take some dance steps.
Carefully observe again and you would see that both the dance and traffic directing go in a synchronised fashion. You barely find any mistake as though it was thoroughly rehearsed.
As for the dance while controlling traffic, Mr Suleiman, who has worked as a traffic warden for some years, told LEADERSHIP Sunday, “It is not professional for a warden to listen to music while directing traffic because that is a distraction to him.”
It was gathered that without listening to any beat, they do dance moves, calculating their steps and gestures carefully so they correspond. And while their dance moves entertain motorists and passers-by, it also prevents the motorists from sleeping off while they are waiting for their turn to move.
The enthusiastic manner with which they go about their duty has not gone unnoticed. They have attracted the attention of commuters. Some are even moved to say hello or wave at them as they drive past. We hear comments like, “he is very faithful and kind to road users”, “she is always on top of her game”, “even when it is raining, he is always there; always dancing and smiling”, etc.
These are some of the expressions made about some traffic wardens by those who have observed them do their job selflessly. Others, out of admiration and appreciation, have also donated vests, bottled water etc.
These gifts might appear very little and ordinary but they go a long way in giving them the encouragement they need to keep up the good work.
Mr Suleiman says that his motivation is sheer passion for the job and that was why he applied for it in the first instance and also the satisfaction he derives in knowing that his work is appreciated.
In spite of the motivation, there are challenges and according to him, one of the major challenges they experience is failure of some of the motorists to cooperate with them but then, they have been trained to handle such situations tactfully.
Of course, there are no set rules stating specifically when a warden should allow a line of vehicles to move, as such a warden uses his or her good judgment to determine that. Often, it is determined based on how busy a lane is or how long the queue is.
Also, considering the nature of their job, traffic wardens wear covered shoes all the time but when asked if that affects his or her health or well being in any way, Mr Suleiman says no, but then added that if a warden develops any foot-related problem, only then, is he permitted to wear sandals.
Below are some of the awards that have been given out and some of the traffic wardens who have received them. The governor of Rivers State, Gov Nyesom Wike, deemed it fit to honour a man who has served as a volunteer warden for the state for 20 years.
Mr Friday Opurum received the Rivers State Merit Award (RSMA) at the second edition of the Rivers State Government State Honours 2018.
Some parastatals have also noticed the good work of these hard-working citizens and in a bid to reward their hard work, have organised awards. One of these companies is the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.
Last year, the above named company organised a campaign known as NominateAChamp, with the intention of celebrating the selfless service of ordinary Nigerians who go beyond the call of duty to ensure our roads are safe and hassle-free.
Members of the general public were called upon to nominate traffic wardens who have touched their hearts with their selfless service of which feedback included dozens of nominations accompanied by heartfelt messages of gratitude.
Commenting on the campaign, the managing director and chief executive officer of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Segun Agbaje said, “NominateAChamp is for us about celebrating excellence, commitment and selfless service which are standards that we hold ourselves to in everything we do. This campaign is part of our effort to celebrate those who often surrender their personal comfort to serve us and also to live out the spirit of the season which is all about thanksgiving”.
He further added, “At GTBank, our social campaigns revolve around the values and interests that our customers deeply care about. That is why we, together with our customers, organised this campaign to recognise and reward excellence and selflessness in service”.
Another company that has rewarded the hard work of traffic wardens is DAAR Communications and one of the beneficiaries is Inspector Josephine Ogene.
According to news report, Mr Ambrose Shomide, the managing director, Radio Services, DAAR Communications, presented the award to her while she was controlling traffic at St Agnes Junction, Sabo-Yaba Road, Lagos.
This award was reported to last for about 180 seconds and motorists, as well as members of the public, watched in admiration for as long as it lasted. The warden, who has been on this job for more than 20 years said, “I feel so happy doing this job. It gives me more joy when people appreciate me on duty.”
Mr Shomide said the organisation received tons of calls requesting for an award for Ogene as the number one traffic warden in the state. Mr Emeka Udo, a commercial bus driver, who witnessed the event said, “Ogene’s performance is outstanding. I am not surprised that she received the award. We call her ‘Iron Mama.’ Whenever she is on duty, no traffic around here. She knows the job and she does it smiling.”
This is only but a few of the numerous awards that have been given out. From time to time, they receive surprise packages. They deserve it. They are working hard to ensure our roads are safe and smooth.
Gifts and awards aside, a major and better way of appreciating traffic wardens is by cooperating with them. It makes their job easier and also makes things easier for us. Let’s all try; it is the least we can do.