By Uche Amunike
The name, Andrew Kumapayi is a household name in Anambra State. It is a name associated with commitment, dedication to duty, sincerity of purpose, progress and result oriented strides. I write about him and his achievements today, having followed his efforts in carrying out the aims and objectives for which his office was formed, since he assumed office and especially, for the roles played by his command before and after the yuletide which made the state one of the most orderly at that usually crazy period of traffic gridlocks. He is the Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Anambra State Command and a great motivator, too. Last week, I received a phone call inviting me to his press briefing where he recalled most of his achievements in the course of his stay as overall boss of the state. One thing about this gentleman that strikes me too, is his penchant for keeping in line with his promise to Anambra state when he took over the reins of leadership as the Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corp in the state. Andrew Kumapayi has not only mapped out result oriented policies to make the highways safe for motorists and other road users, he has also been assiduous in seeing to the implementation of such policies by working tirelessly with his team of the most gallant officers ever recorded by this state. This explains the reduction of road mishaps in the state in a very long time and also, the high level of awareness on the part of these road users and even the general public of basic information about safety on the roads. While at his press briefing, I watched him as he reeled out his achievements so far, especially in the ember months. It was an amazing score card of all the successes that the state has recorded since he came on board and specially, for the huge dose of order enjoyed by the entire state during the last yuletide. It was really most impressive because ordinarily, the most frustrating time to be on the roads of Anambra is that period of mass return between December 20th and January 7th, when Anambra indigenes come home for the yuletide with their families from every corner of the world. It is also a time to record constant road accidents, but thanks to his well tailored policies, there was a drastic reduction in the rates of road accidents.
Generally, the traffic congestion of our roads remain one of the most common challenges usually faced by people as they approach Anambra via the Niger Bridge. There is usually a major gridlock there, year after year, every yuletide which most times, force people to trek that long stretch of road atop the Niger Bridge. Other major roads in the Onitsha/Nnewi and Awka metropolis were also traffic free, all thanks to the hard work put in by the men of the Federal Road Safety Corp. For starters, a total of 1045 officers of the corps were deployed for the ease of traffic, to join hands with the DSS, ASTMA, Police Force, Civil Defence and even the press in seeing that our roads were safe and that the large volume of traffic that came into the state during the festive period was controlled. These officers included both Regular Marshalls, Special Marshalls and FRSC staff members. Let me reel out some of the other ways by which the Federal Road Safety Corps, under the eagle eyes of the Sector Commander was able to raise the ante like never seen in the Command in such a long time .
One of the most impressive tasks carried out by Kumapayi and his command was the sensitization drive that was massively carried out by them. Visits were made to churches and even mosques to educate the masses on safety tips. A total of 400 churches were visited at a stretch while 680 trips were made to different motor parks where mechanics were tutored on the need for them to utilize quality car spare parts in fixing cars in order to avoid the risk resulting from usage of sub standard spare parts; the Command carried about 777 road shows and 17 Town hall meetings in different parts of the state. A Whatsapp group named FRSC Media Forum was also created by his command where a seamless communication network is formed between the different media houses in the state and the FRSC. This is where most initiatives are discussed and endless information passed by the media about the traffic situation in the state so that prompt action is taken by his men. A total of 51 vehicles that obstructed the road were removed, all in the bid to create space on such roads for other motorists. It is commendable to note that the force recorded a 41% increase in enforcement as 28, 920 offenders were arrested in 2019, as against 20, 621 offenders arrested in 2018. Between December 15 and January 16, 19 cases were recorded with 40 people injured, 13 people seriously affected with 3 minor cases, 2 people dead, bringing the number of casualties to 57. This is actually remarkable when one compares the rate of accidents in the past years, at this period that is expressly known for constant crashes and multiple deaths.
Road safety is a collective responsibility, like the FRSC boss kept on saying during the media interaction. The measures the Command has put in place to check these avoidable road mishaps need to be taken seriously. A lot has been stressed on seat belts and yet, even private car owners that should know better find it herculean using their seat belts. Another very important feature introduced by the FRSC is the Speed Limit device. It is presently expected that all commercial buses should have it or face charges. With time private car users would be expected to have it installed too. These are all measures put in place to see that vehicles make it safely from point A to point B.
Let me note that just before Christmas, the Anambra Sector Commander relocated to Onitsha in order to see that he gave full attention to the traffic situation alongside his men. They worked tirelessly and this accounted for the relative peace and safety witnessed by the state.
I want to admire him for his passion for his job and indeed thank him for living up to his promise to reduce the spate of road accidents and traffic. He mentioned his goal in this first quarter of the year 2020 to be to minimize these road mishaps and also to improve on the advocacy visits so as to massively inform people about knowledge of his Command. I love him for this. No Sector Commander has gone this far in the past. Every Sunday, 4 churches are visited and unit commands talk to the congregation for 10 minutes, about safety on our roads. This is going an extra mile to add value to the lives of our people and I really do hope they continue in this amazing initiative.
I did ask, during the interactive session, about the extra high bumps constructed along the Nkpor-Umuoji Road which has not only caused damages to so many cars including mine and what they intend to do about it, considering the traffic gridlock it causes every evening. He also frowned against it and assured all that he was already handling it with the Commissioner for Transport who has actually given the directives for the bumps to be removed, saying that adequate steps are already being taken to that effect.
I will end this piece with the message passed by the Sector Commander to the governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano whom he thanked for giving him an enabling environment to work in. He said that his command received four brand new vehicles from the state government, alongside all other logistics that has made his job really easy. He attributed the great strides of not just his Command, but that of the other sister security agencies in the state, to the massive support being given to them by His Excellency.
My prayer is that his goal of reducing road crashes to the barest minimum is achieved in 2020 and that there is increased compliance by motorists as well. Like he pointed out, safety is a collective responsibility. While he strives to consolidate his gains from 2019, we should strive to stay safe this 2020. Life is precious!