Some officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and state owned traffic personnel in the South East, said they treat motorists with human face in enforcing traffic laws across the country.
They disclosed this in separate interviews with our reporter while reacting to alleged violence meted on motorists by traffic officials enforcing traffic rules and regulation.
The traffic personnel claimed in the contrary, that they had been victims of assault by motorists during enforcement of traffic laws.
Mr Adeoye Irelewuyi, Sector Commander, FRSC in Anambra, says there are no cases or complaints of violent conduct by its personnel in traffic laws enforcement.
Irelewuyi told our reporter that FRSC officials were on the receiving end of such assault as some motorists harassed and manhandled them.
“We have always been on the receiving end of such assault. We have had instances where members of the public assault our operatives when they try to enforce traffic laws.
“I can assure you that if any member of the public brings such complaint against our operative to the Corps with concrete evidence, such operative will face severe disciplinary action.
“We are a very civil elite corps and we do not condone indiscipline of any kind. We encourage our officials to be civil when dealing with the public,” he said.
The sector commander said that the corps held pre-patrol briefings on daily basis as well as in-house weekly trainings to ensure civility in the enforcement of traffic rules and regulations in the state.
He however, advised motorists and road users to see the FRSC officials as partners in progress and sustain good driving habits to safety on the roads.
“FRSC personnel are on the road working for the public to ensure safety, not to work against the public or inflict pain on anybody.
“The public or motorists should see us as partners in progress, so that together we can reduce accidents on our roads,” he said.
Mr Joseph Toby, the Sector Commander of the FRSC in Enugu State, said that its personnel had been trained to be courteous with motorists on the road.
He said that FRSC officials had stopped chasing vehicles and forcefully following traffic defaulter both physically or verbally.
According to him, you can see that in the state, we do more of education and enlightenment than enforcement or ticketing motorists.
“We give benefit of doubts to first offenders at times and special consideration to motorists or those with passengers under peculiar situation or health condition.
“We do visit accident victims in hospitals as well as regular check and follow up on those involved in accident we evacuated to any hospital and ensure their property and valuables are kept intact.
“So, our work is always carried out without violence and we ensure touch of humanity in all we do in the corps,” he said.
Contributing, the new Commissioner for Transport in Enugu State, Dr Peter Omeje, pledged that enforcement of traffic rules would be done with human face in the state.
Omeje said the ministry would embark on some reforms meant to enhance its service delivery on traffic flow to the public.
According to him, we must reorient our traffic officers to ensure we remain relevant and work with human face.
“I will be embarking on training and retraining of traffic officials under the Enugu State Traffic Management Authority (ESTMA) to make them more responsive and achieve set targets in courteous manner.
“The ministry is never after fines; but to see that everyone is safe on the road and the traffic keep flowing,” he said.
Meanwhile, some Stakeholders in Ebonyi have expressed worry over the violent conduct of some security personnel in enforcement of traffic rules and regulations in the state.
They suggested sack over the violent conduct for the personnel including the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), Federal Road Safety Corps and the Police.
A commercial bus driver, Mr Chikere Okorie, told NAN that their conduct was worrisome and urged the federal government to make law stipulating punishment of such erring personnel.
Okorie said he had encounter with the FRSC and police on several occasions even when he did not violate any traffic rules.
“It is appalling, the way the officers on the road have been treating us even when we did not violate any traffic rules.
“Sometimes, they will be asking for some irrelevant documents, especially the police.
“When you have your driving license, they will ask for the vehicle paper; when you provide them, they will go ahead asking you for what does not even concern them on the road.
“The federal government need to call them to order, in fact, I suggest sack for any of the personnel over such act of violent conduct,” he stated.
Mr John Anoke, a Tricycle Operator, also decried the act of violent conduct in enforcement of traffic rules and suggested capital punishment for such officers.
Anoke said that the major cause of such violence with the police, VIO or the FRSC personnel include demand for money even when you have your vehicle papers complete.
“The police have seen us as their source of income on daily basis. On several occasions, they will fight and quarrel with drivers because of money, which they tagged as “settlement.” This is bad.
Mrs Chinelo Jude, a passenger said she was also worried over the way officers on the road handled some of the drivers.
“The character they usually exhibited in terms of money deserve capital punishment,” she added.
SP Chris Anyanwu, Spokesman of the Police Command in Ebonyi told NAN that the command had not received such report of violent conduct of personnel in recent time.
Anyanwu, who resumed office as Spokesman of the Command in May, said that its men and officers in the command were committed to service of the nation.
In Imo, stakeholders in the transportation industry blamed most accidents, especially on highways, on violent conduct of officials responsible for traffic enforcement.
In his reaction, the Okigwe Zonal Chairman of National Association of Road Transport Workers, Mr Linus Ibeh, recalled that in August 2007, 11 students of Owerri Girls Secondary School allegedly died in auto crash by over speeding trailer being chased by traffic agents.
He further said that in 2017, a passenger bus crashed into a ditch in Njaba Local Government Area leading to the death of seven people.
He said investigation revealed that officers of Federal Road Safety Corps chased the driver after he refused to stop on demand until the accident occurred.
Ibeh gave another example when police officers chased a driver of a Toyota Camry and the vehicle crashed into a ditch in World Bank area of Owerri and all the occupants of the vehicle died instantly.
He condemned the attitude of applying force to enforce traffic.
He said the road actors should apply more civil ways of enforcing traffic, adding that the dangers in the use of force to enforce traffic were higher than the traffic offense.
“Sometimes, human lives are endangered in the process of enforcing traffic by road actors.
“They should be more tactical in discharging their duties; I recommend that officers of FRSC, VIO and Police enforcing traffic should have communication gadgets, which will make it easier for them to arrest offenders through signal,” he said.
In his remarks, Commissioner for Transport in Imo, Mr Rex Anunobi condemned the use of force to enforce traffic laws.
Anunobi also condemned drivers, who were in the habitof violating traffic rules, adding that violation of traffic laws were the major reason for most auto crashes in the city.
He said his ministry had organized numerous sensitization workshops on the need to stop the use of force to enforce traffic law violation.
Also contributing, Chairman of Imo Chapter of Trailer Drivers Association, Mr Chidiebere Isikaku, said government should set up a monitoring team to arrest road actors who applied force to enforce traffic law violation.
“As a trailer driver, I know that it is very wrong and high risk to apply force on trailer drivers because the trailer can lose control at anytime.
“We must be very cautious when enforcing traffic laws in order not to endanger the lives of the violator and other road users,” he said.