By Stanley Onyekwere
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has said that the reinvigorated road traffic policy is intended to save lives on the roads and not to inflict hardship on residents of the FCT.
Bello stated this at the public presentation of the road traffic policy for a Safe, Functional and Efficient transport system for the nation’s Federal Capital.
He added that there was need for an attitudinal change by road users to safeguard the sanctity of lives, adding that the people have to realise that breaking traffic laws is unacceptable.
According to him, the collaborative measures taken by the FCT Administration and the various security agencies in the FCT were geared towards ensuring that all traffic regulations are followed to save lives and ensure a safer city.
He said: “Journeys that ought to take a short time, because of the available facilities, take much longer, simply because many road users decide not to follow basic rules of traffic use within the city.
“ It is manifested through parking on areas that are meant for pedestrian walkways, ignoring pedestrian bridges, ignoring zebra crossings, driving against traffic, overloading, parking in undesignated car parks.
“People have to learn to respect zebra crossing. Motorists must respect pedestrians and school children at zebra crossings.’
The Minister however stressed that there was no ban on commercial tricycles and commercial motorcycles in the Federal Capital City (FCC).
He added that the law does not permit them on expressways or driving against traffic as they are inclined to do, as there are designated areas for each of them to operate.
He further explained: “What we are saying is that the laws are very clear. There are designated areas allowed for motorcycles. There are designated areas allowed for tricycles and what we are trying to do is to emphasize that”.
“Our objective is to save lives; to make the human life valuable the way it’s supposed to be. And how can we do that? We have to make sure that all traffic regulations are adhered to and the advantage we have is that all these is covered by law.
“And we are going to use the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, the laws of the highway code, the FCT Transport Regulations, the National Road Traffic Regulations and other traffic laws and regulations.
“We are going to back that with a robust support from the judiciary so that all those that violate traffic regulations and protocols are made to pay for it because that is the only way we can guarantee the safety of lives of our people.”
He equally revealed that as part of plans to cushion the effect of the measures to bring sanity to FCT roads, the number of high capacity buses have been increased to cover the routes illegally plied by the commercial tricycles while the recently commissioned Abuja Light Rail would serve as alternative mode transport for residents.
The Minister therefore assured that additional coaches will be made available for the Abuja light rail before the middle of next year while ten additional metro stations on the Abuja Airport line will be opened. This he said will ease the traffic on the roads.
“On our part as an Administration, we are doing our very best to provide additional high capacity buses. We are also making much easier the process of registration of companies or persons that want to provide taxi services, as long as the vehicle meets the minimum standard that is required by law.
“I would also want to mention that as you know, the Abuja light rail is already operational. By the middle of next year, a substantial number of coaches that are under construction now would have arrived and about 10 additional stations on the metro stations to Abuja airport line would have been opened and then we would have train probably moving almost in intervals of 30 minutes,” he stressed.
Bello also called on investors in the transport sector to partner with the FCTA to help cushion the effects of enforcement of the traffic rules and regulations, adding that requirements for the registration of taxis/cabs have been made easy to encourage more participants.
Also speaking at the event, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi said 20 patrol vans and 350 personnel have been deployed to the FCTA in furtherance of the cause.
He reiterated the commitment of the FRSC to work very closely with the FCTA for the success of the Safe Functional and Efficient traffic managemnet policy of the FCTA.
The FRSC boss commended the FCT Minister for the bold step he has taken to ensure safety on FCT roads and safeguard lives and property.
In his welcome address, the FCTA Permanent Secretary had said that what was being witnessed today was the culmination of several months of systematic assessment of the traffic and public transportation situation in the FCT and careful planning and strategic meetings at the highest levels to come up with policies that will be of benefit to the greater number of people in the FCT.
The FCT Minister along with other guests then inspected the vehicles from the FRSC to be used for enforcement purposes and also inspected licenced taxi cabs that will operate on FCT roads