More glaring among the pressure that the unending influx of people into the FCT is having on available facilities is the heavy impact on intra city road traffic sector. The end result as witnessed on a daily basis is the unnecessary traffic jams and congestion along major arterial roads. Journeys that ought to take a short time, because of the available facilities, now take much longer, simply because many road users decide not to follow basic rules of traffic use within the city.
It also 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.
Gradually, all this is tending to show a visitor that the city is a chaotic city which shouldn’t be the case because Abuja as a city has been well planned with one of the best road networks of any city in Africa.
It is against this backdrop that the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, should be commended for setting machinery in motion to correct these anomalies and improve road traffic management in the FCT. It would be recalled that the Minister sought the joint cooperation of the Nigerian Police Force, the Civil Defence, the Directorate of State Services and of course, the Federal Road Safety Corps to find away to address the intra city traffic challenges.
The Minister understands that the most important requirements for the smooth running of a large city is a functional and reliable public transportation system running within an efficient traffic management hub that has capacity to meet the challenges and the desires of all categories of people.
Thus, a high caliber team comprising the Federal Road Safety Corps and all these other government agencies earlier mentioned, was set up to produce and implement an efficient traffic management system for the city and also by extension, for also the surrounding satellite towns.
The team was charged to make sure that all traffic regulations are adhered to as provided by law. Part of its objective also is 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 to ensure that those who 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.
Today in the FCT, the team has been very successful in correcting some of the ills that bedeviled the transportation sector in the FCT. Such negative traffic as reckless driving, driving against traffic, use of unpainted taxis and the most dreaded one chance criminality are being tackled with utmost seriousness.
In view of the foregoing it is clear that the whole concept of what the FCT Administration in partnership with the Road Safety Corps and the Nigerian Police and all the other government agencies are trying to achieve is to save the lives of Nigerians. The FCT Administration wants to have a city where the traffic management system caters for the safety of the people. But for that to be done, all of us have to work very hard and be willing to face all the challenges.
It’s very important also for the general public to appreciate that the FCT Administration has not banned motorcycles or tricycles because these modes of transport are very crucial in the transportation value chain. Usually, at the final point in some designated areas, the only model of transport available is the motorcycle. In some areas, the only model of transportation is the tricycle.
But what the FCTA is saying is that the laws are very clear. There are designated areas allowed for motorcycles. There are designated areas allowed for tricycles and that is what the administration is trying to emphasize.
Obviously, the laws do not allow the motorcycle to be on an expressway, neither does the law allow for tricycle to be on an expressway. Irrespective of whatever road is there, the law does not also allow a motor vehicle, a tricycle, motorcycle to drive against traffic. It’s totally unacceptable.
But to achieve an efficient and effective transportation system in the FCT, as the FCT Minister pointed out, all of us as citizens, particularly those of us that are road users, have to have an attitudinal change. We have to all agree that in our society here, breaking the traffic light is unacceptable. We have to also agree that where there is a Zebra Crossing, you have to wait and allow the people who are not like you, endowed with a car, you have to give them right of way. You have to also respect school children so that they can have the right of way. If people use pedestrian walkways and use zebra crossings, then our infrastructure of greenery, plants, flowers will be maintained and then we will be no different from all these other countries that we try to copy.
It is very clear that as a government, the FCT Administration is not out to create hardship for anybody. However, the Administration wants to ensure that a small few who decide to break the law will not prevent the majority from having a good life or to be able to go about their normal activities.
Danladi Akilu, Abuja