Traffic Agents: Between Public Safety and Revenue Drive

It is customary to see various road traffic agencies on the roads flagging down vehicles and conducting checks on their owners’ particulars and other things. Ordinarily, this is to ensure that their papers are correct and that their vehicles are road worthy. But experience has shown that most times the reason for their checks is anything but for the safety of road users. Sadly, pecuniary interest aimed at making money for their offices has overshadowed the need to ensure the actual safety of road users.

Some of these agencies include the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC; Anambra Road Traffic Agency, ARTMA; and Vehicle Inspection Officers, VIO.

Incidences of bribe taking have been recorded against some of their officials and it is rampant more among officials of ARTMA who will apprehend traffic defaulters and extort money from them rather than take them to their head office for booking. Most times, they collect half of what should be officially paid.

But the vexatious thing is that they fail to put up visible signs for people, especially those not resident in the city or state, to sufficiently warn them from defaulting. Most of these signs can hardly be seen and one gets the impression that it is purposely done to get as many defaulters as possible in order to beef up their revenue drive.

Also, the way they chase down perceived defaulters leaves much to be desired and it is becoming clearer by the day that they are happy setting traps for unsuspecting people to fall into. This is very bad indeed.

We suggest and insist that large signposts be mounted which will be easy enough for everyone to see. Mounting them as if trying to hide them from view amounts to mischief as the impression is that they are trying to trap unsuspecting road users into defaulting and being fined.

The same applies to officials of the FRSC, who usually apprehend private vehicle owners or various offences without bothering commercial drivers. For instance, it is a rarity to see them checking commercial vehicle drivers for seat belt compliance. It is as though those drivers are immune to accidents. This is not ideal and sends the wrong signals.

As for VIO officials, it is much the same tactics. From the way they operate, you get the feeling they are only after your money.

Indeed, the activities and modus operandi of these agencies leave much to be desired and something needs to change. They should perform their duties in a manner that convinces the public that they really care for them, in order to engender mutual trust. Setting what appear to be booby traps aimed at shoring up their revenue bases is very bad and we hope that henceforth, they should turn a new leaf.