Federal Road Safety Corps and Its Ill-Considered Policies, By Simbo Olorunfemi

Adeboboye-Oyeyemi-new-FRSC-bossCan we take time to think through some of these policies and explore home-grown solutions that take into consideration the state of the economy and our present circumstances? Can the FRSC consider how its policy will be perceived before rolling it out? There is only so much that can be done in putting out fires; can the Commission help us by not setting yet another one?

There’s something to be said about some of these agencies and parastatals who seem to just run off, on their own journey in disregard of the body language of the leadership, in contempt of the mood of the nation, the economic condition of the citizens, and with little or no thought about the implications of their policies/actions on how the government is perceived or rated.

Take the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for instance, one won’t be wrong to conclude that this agency seems to misread its mandate more as a revenue-generating organ than what we understand it to be really about.

It seems to have mastered the art of sneaking in on Nigerians with policy pronouncements, always claiming such to be as empowered by the Act setting it up, whose manifest intent is to make people cough out money that is simply not there. It announces one change or the other and we are simply to follow its orders and bear the cost of compliance

The other time, it was a change of number plates forced on Nigerians. There were one or two court cases on that, and I’m not sure what has become of them, but FRSC was insisting on us trading in plates we had paid for, for new ones at enormous cost to us. Reason – simply recycling the argument it had made years back about developing its database and all that stuff, as the excuse for another change.

But FRSC’s planned enforcement against the use of expired tyres by Nigerians does not come across as well-thought out. First, how can you, at this time, with the state of the economy, the pressure on forex, knowing that tyres are not locally produced, seek to push millions of Nigerians into acquiring new tyres?

One must credit the agency for the progress it has made with the procurement of Driver’s Licence. That takes only about 30 days now (from my experience). But for some years, the whole thing was a huge fiasco, with corruption and the production of fake licences becoming part and parcel of the process.

Recently, there was this initiative of FRSC to do with the introduction of speed limiters at the cost of N35,000 (I suspect) for certain categories of vehicles. The House of Representatives initially opposed the idea, but some reports have it that one of its Committees might be singing a different song now. Perhaps this is a good idea, but the worry again is the cost. What is it with these initiatives that seem to always come at enormous cost to Nigerians?

Safety is non-negotiable, no doubt. We are rather lax and non-challant when the issue has to do with safety, we know that. So, I understand where FRSC is coming from.

But FRSC’s planned enforcement against the use of expired tyres by Nigerians does not come across as well-thought out. First, how can you, at this time, with the state of the economy, the pressure on forex, knowing that tyres are not locally produced, seek to push millions of Nigerians into acquiring new tyres? Where is the naira supposed to come from? Where is the dollar for the importation supposed to come from? Have you considered the implication of your action on inflation? Have you considered the state of the economy and how difficult things are, presently, for Nigerians?

I submit, most respectfully, that FRSC’s intent to subject Nigerians to the ‘disrespectful’ act of cross-checking dates of expiry on tyres by the roadside, in the name of ‘safety’, is a dodgy initiative. I would think it should invest its energy in the direction of inter-agency co-operation to ensure that in the next two years, expired tyres no longer come into the country.

What effort has the FRSC put into enlightenment and advocacy? How many people even know tyres have expiry dates? How many people are able to identify where that information is to be found on tyres? Doesn’t FRSC think it will take years for this information to sink in? Now, the most important aspect of this – Is FRSC not supposed, first, to work with other agencies such as Customs and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure that expired tyres do not come into the country and guarantee that works for some years before seeking to take this out on ‘innocent’ end users? Doesn’t the Commission realise its a part of one government and that it can’t visit the failure on the part of one or the dereliction of duty on the part of another on innocent citizens who pay it to protect them?

I submit, most respectfully, that FRSC’s intent to subject Nigerians to the ‘disrespectful’ act of cross-checking dates of expiry on tyres by the roadside, in the name of ‘safety’, is a dodgy initiative. I would think it should invest its energy in the direction of inter-agency co-operation to ensure that in the next two years, expired tyres no longer come into the country. The Commission might need to also consider the number of years it is prescribing. Tyres in use are mostly produced outside Nigeria, it might need to consider that it takes a while from their date of manufacture to get into the country. To expect people to change tyres as often as FRSC has recommended only goes to help the economy of other countries and deplete our forex reserves.

Can we take time to think through some of these policies and explore home-grown solutions that take into consideration the state of the economy and our present circumstances? Can the FRSC consider how its policy will be perceived before rolling it out? There is only so much that can be done in putting out fires; can the Commission help us by not setting yet another one?

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