by Samuel Ogundipe
Motorists plying the designated federal roads across Ogun State should, anytime from now, expect significant improvement in overall driving condition, which includes tidy roads and palpable discipline amongst drivers, a newly established road safety and maintenance committee has promised.
The Federal Roads Committee on Surveillance and Action Against Road Abuse, prevalently known by its acronym, FERCSARA, has begun a statewide awareness campaign to intimate the residents of the Gateway State of its role as the bastion of a fast, hitch-free driving on the state’s federal highways.
During a meeting held recently at the Shiun, Ogun-State, facility of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, FERMA, the state chairman of the committee, Engr. Alex Mazoya, said the committee is a tripartite arrangement between a certain think-tank, security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Works:
“The police, the army and some concerned individuals are partnering with FERMA to bring sanity to our roads,” he told The Scoop at the event which was billed as a stakeholders’ forum.
Replying to critics who said the collection of dues from haulage truck drivers was at the core of the committee’s establishment, Engr. Mazoya said the agency is strictly on a quest to complementing the work of FERMA; removing hazards from the roads and punishing errant drivers that fail to comply with road safety and usage laws.
“Our mandate is to ensure free passages for all road users and sometimes we need security officials to give us a back up because of some wicked and stubborn elements in the society,” he said.
He said the committee is not being funded by the SURE-P, noting that it will source its staff from the existing FERMA Ad-Hoc staff pool. He, however, balked at disclosing how the committee finances its day-to-day operation.
SURE-P stands for Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, a controversial agency President Jonathan said he created to mitigate the adverse impact of fuel subsidy removal on the lower class.
Also speaking in the same vein, the state coordinator of the committee, Engr. ‘Segun Kaka, said the committee will ensure strict compliance with road laws by motorists.
“This committee will work with FERMA to remove hazards from our roads in order to drastically reduce motor accidents.”
When asked about the legal framework of the committee, the coordinator cited Section Seven of the 2004 Act that established FERMA, which he says permits FERMA to “create monitoring committees for federal highways.”
Mr. Kaka also disabused another widespread criticism that the committee was created to foment trouble and thwart the efforts of the governor of the state, noting that there’s not truth, whatsoever, in the rumour as the executives of committee have “met with officials of Ogun State Ministry of Commerce.”
Hon. Eniola Kazeem, a Peoples Democratic Party strategist in Ogun State, said the committee, if diligently managed, has the potential to inundate existing road safety agencies across the country.
“I’m confident of the fact that this new initiative can outshine other similar ones that have been created before, but its executives must be very careful and determined.”
When reached for comment, a media aide to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, pleaded for more time to properly study the goals of the committee, but did not deny knowledge of its existence.
Representatives of several security agencies, including the Nigeria Police Force and Department of State Security Services, were present at the event, but all declined to speak to the media, claiming to have no authorisation from their respective agencies.
FERCSARA was at the receiving end of fierce criticism and widespread ridicule following its tumultuous launch in Lagos few weeks ago.