Situating FRSC’s Road Safety Administration 33 Years After

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BISI KAZEEM, the Public Education Officer at the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), looks at the operations of the agency in road safety management, especially in the reduction of fatalities on the major highways as well as educating the road users in the past 33 years

The ugly narrative of road traffic crashes in the early 70s changed through the federal government’s resilience in the establishment of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in 1988, as the lead agency in road safety administration and traffic management in Nigeria through 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.

Being a strategic intervention to address the ugly trend of road crashes, the FRSC has, since its establishment operated in line with best global practices. The organisation was specifically established and empowered by legislation to coordinate road safety administration and traffic management in Nigeria with the ultimate aim of halting the trend of road traffic crashes and fatalities on all the roads (204,000km) in the country, and its laws and regulations can be exercised in any part of the country.

To achieve this cardinal mandate of saving lives without compromise, the FRSC religiously chose the path of honour in efficient service conveyance, by delivering high-quality services in line with a Quality Management Policy (QMP) that is not at variance with other laws of the land in respect to road safety administration and management in the country. Unlike other agencies of government, the establishment of FRSC was in conformity with the lead agency concept recommended by the United Nations and World Health Organisation, 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 RTC.

Prior to the establishment of the FRSC in 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had adjudged Nigeria, the second only behind Ethiopia, as the most dangerous country in the world to drive a motor vehicle.
In its 33 years as the lead agency in traffic and safety management, FRSC has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of traffic engineering, road safety administration, traffic management, rescue operation, and crash reduction. It has achieved this glorious feat, as a result of a chain of leadership ingenuity that led to the fusion of the services of volunteers called special marshals and social responsibility groups in its programmes to enhance road safety management in Nigeria.
To this end, road safety administration in Nigeria has witnessed a paradigm shift from the traditional approach to safe systems approach 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. The corps under different governmental and administrative leaderships has proven to allay the menace of road traffic crashes in the past 33 years.

Considering that the road transport sector in Nigeria accounts for over 90% 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 road map, established a National Road Safety Advisory Council (NaRSAC), which is directly under the office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo improved operational efficiency, enhanced regulatory environment, and accelerated response capability to situations that needed immediate actions.

The Corps, therefore, defined its cause in tandem with the UN Decade of Action as well as the mantra of the functional 21st-century organisation by chatting a path to meet the Accra Declaration of 50 per cent reduction in fatality by 2015, achieve the UN decade of action on road safety of 50% fatality reduction by 2021 and the rollover of UN Decade of Action in 2031.

The Corps has now come of age after going through good times and tides. In its 33 years journey, it recorded, for instance, a commendable 62.4% reduction in crashes 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 10522 in 2020. The statistics above show that the Corps is gaining grounds accordingly.

As a performance-driven organisation with clearly set measurable Key performance Indicators, FRSC is today, the only law enforcement organisation in Nigeria certified by the International Standard organisation. The Corps has over three decades designed and operated 28 web applications for its operational activities so as to create an accessible platform for the general public.

The introduction of the toll-free 122 emergency number and a 24 hours 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 the Verification Portal for drivers license 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 to extinction.

Further to the aforementioned, as one of the nation’s custodians of critical data infrastructure, the Corps has successfully strengthened inter-agency cooperation with relevant stakeholders such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), and Banks in Nigeria with evident success in inter-agency collaboration and harmonisation of data for national development.

Again, it is noteworthy to look at the direction of the present leadership of Dr. Boboye Oyememi’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 offenses. This singular step has become instrumental to the decline in crash rate as offenders apprehended by the Operation Cobra squad are usually referred to a government health facility for the Emotional Stability Test. Oyeyemi’s management has so far constructed and inaugurated 16 permanent structures in various sector commands, with other two awaiting inauguration.
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 organisation in Nigeria with its robust database and over 95 percentage digitalised administrative and operational procedures.
It is therefore expedient to state that the era covering the period of the reign of the present Corps Marshal Oyeyemi, and the establishment of State Traffic Agencies were encouraged to further complement the function of the FRSC within the states. The Corps also embarks 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 vehicles 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.

In pursuit of an aggressive public enlightenment programme, the FRSC management under him established the National Traffic Radio 107.1 FM in October 2019 as a medium for educating mass members of the public on traffic matters and updating them of road conditions across the country. The Corps further introduced a massive welfare scheme through the Post Service Scheme and the 20,000 Housing project for Staff.
With its present 12 Zonal Commands, 37 Sector Commands, 213 Unit Commands, 41 Out Posts, FRSC Academy, FRSC Training Schools, FRSC Staff College, 214 Driver License Centres/Work Stations, 1 Signage Plant, 1 National Driver License Print Farm, 43 Emergency Ambulance Points (ZEBRAs), and 17 Staff Clinics; it’s quiet in order to posit that the Corps has witnessed tremendous expansion in these 33 years rising from its hitherto few command structures to having representation in the 774 Local Governments of the Federation.
On the global scene, FRSC takes the leadership role of the 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, the Corps has provided technical assistance to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, and so on. It has secured implementation of a policy robust engagement with international organisations for capacity building including the World Bank project on Safe corridor Project etc.

Apart from succeeded in securing the endorsement of the National Road Safety Strategy in 2016, FRSC made Nigeria the first African country to be admitted into the International Traffic Safety Data analysis group IRTAD, became the first African country to accede to six (6) United Nations Conventions on Road Safety. This is to align with global best practices and domesticate the standards.

These efforts have given the organisation 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 the same vein, the Corps’ success story has been attributed 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 workforce including regular marshals and a volunteer arm and optimal deployment of technology, a feat which has been described as unparalleled in Africa, South of the Sahara.
In recognising the leadership role FRSC has played in shaping Nigeria’s Road Safety in thirty-three (33) years, it is important to acknowledge that the level of awareness and citizen’s view of road safety as a collective responsibility together with the political will of the government is the reason for the achievements so far recorded.

 

 

 

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