When on Thursday, 16 August 2012, the President of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin led his executive, Chairmen of the 36 states including the FCT and some members of the union on a solidarity visit to the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Osita Chidoka, OFR at the FRSC National Headquarters Abuja, the occasion was appropriately described as “unprecedented in the history of the FRSC.” This was so because never before had such a large number of the executive of the transport workers’ union visited the Corps; prompting one of the visiting chairmen to describe the development as an “indication of the growing relationship between the FRSC and the NIRTW.”
Nigeria is a country challenged by road traffic crashes, and conscious of the realisation that the challenges could only be effectively tackled through sustained efforts and effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders, the coming together of the FRSC and the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers in the new partnership is no doubt a positive development that could boost the ongoing campaign for safer roads, fuller lives in the country. The NURTW President gave impetus to the new dimension to the relationship when in his address at the occasion he said that the new executive of the union is a proponent of the transformation agenda of the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, in line with the new dispensation, the union has put in place a lot of efforts to rebrand, renovate and reform in order to reposition in line with the President’s transformation agenda as well as making it more acceptable nationally.“You will recall that apart from getting a befitting secretariat for the union on a zero base, we also commenced the sensitization of the executives nationwide through constant dialogue as well as sensitisation aimed at changing the public perception of the union membership,” he stated.
Alhaji Najeem observed that members of the union nationwide are excited about the positive developments going on in the FRSC under the current management, which he said has introduced various innovations in traffic management. Accordingly, he expressed the unalloyed support and solidarity of the transport workers’ union to the leadership, which he commended for its genuine concern for the safety and security of lives and property of the road users.
“I am using this forum to commend the Corps Marshal for all the innovations and other improvements that he has introduced into the management of the Commission. These have not only sustained the organisation, but helped it to garner international recognition,” he further stated.
He called for the support of the Corps in the enforcement of the law on “Passengers Manifest.” This according to him would make it possible for proper identification of victims of road crashes and their easy access to accident insurance scheme the union has initiated through the Road Accident Health Insurance Scheme (RAHIS). “It is our belief that this scheme can only succeed with collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps who are the experts in road safety matters and can enforce its implementation,” he said.
Responding, the Corps Marshal expressed his pleasure at the large turnout of the executive and members from the various states of the federation, which he described as evidence of the growing confidence and collaboration of the FRSC with the union. He therefore assured the union of his management’s desire to continuously collaborate on regulatory enforcement with them in order to make the roads safe for all, stressing that the nation’s desire to become a crash-free country could only be achieved through effective collaboration between the Corps and the Union.
The Corps Marshal however expressed disappointment with the growing rate of road crashes in the country, which he said could only be reduced by 26% so far as against the target of 50% earlier set. He described as unacceptable, a situation whereby despite the reduction in the rate of crashes, the rate of death increased by 5% within the period. It was to address this challenge he said, reform is being carried out in the licensing system, explaining the nexus between rising cases of road crashes and poor licensing system in the country.
Accordingly, he called on the union members to embrace the change to make it successful. “We are putting in place, measures that could address the issues of professionalism in driving by ensuring that commercial driver’s licences were issued only to those with professional competence to drive commercial vehicles. Commercial drivers would henceforth undergo proper medical tests and certification to address the challenges of poor eye sight, epilepsy and alcoholism being observed in some drivers who operate commercial vehicles. “That is why we are delaying the commencement of the issuance of the commercial driver’s licence category under the new licensing system,” he stated.
The Corps Marshal further assured the union that the Corps will continue to enforce the law on Passengers Manifest, but called on transport companies to key into the Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) to make enforcement of traffic laws and access to health insurance scheme for crash victims easy for all beneficiaries. In addition, he implored the union to assist the Corps in propagating the ideals of
the new driver’s licence and number plates to all their members for them to appreciate the safety and security features embedded in the new scheme.
“You should make sure that you go through the proper channels to obtain your new driver’s licence and number plates; avoid patronising the touts and be sure that the processes for acquiring the new number plates are completed, especially by making sure that the Proof of Ownership Certificate (POOC) of your vehicle is not hand-written, as that would mean that the process has not been completed yet. “It is better you properly
register your vehicles so that they could be easily traced through their data whenever there was need,” he added.
The visit no doubt is a reflection of the synergy being built between the FRSC as a lead agency in road transport safety management and administration in the country and the transport union whose members are on the road everyday conveying people and goods from one part of the country to the other. This as has been stressed is a positive development capable of enhancing the prospect for crash and fatality reduction in Nigeria in line with the mandate of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020.