The history of the existence of the vehicle inspection offices in the country is such that requires elaboration and comprehensive analysis for the benefit of other traffic related agencies who out of sheer jealousy and rivalry have moved to amend the Acts establishing them in order to monopolise traffic related issues to their authority. If not, why the recent move by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to change its name from the above to the Nigeria Road Safety Commission through a bill that has passed second reading at the National Assembly even while they were originally set up in 1988 to reduce carnage on our roads. The V.I.O is known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) in the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.). During the reign of the then premier of northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello KBE (Sardauna of Sokoto) the V.I.O formed his convoy and escorts routine. The V.I.O shave history of their establishment dated back to 1948.
In Abuja, the fear of the V.I.O for vehicle owners with expired particulars, licence, non possession of fire extinguisher, C-Caution, worn out tyres, lack of brake lights, hand brake, deem and full light as well as rare lights is the beginning of wisdom. This prompt enforcement has made a lot of motorists to wake-up from their slumber by putting all things intact. However, the enthusiasm, doggedness and spirited effort of the current director, Wadata Aliyu Bodinga, facsc, has helped to ease some of the difficulties faced by vehicle owners who had to go all the way to the headquarters in Mabushi to either renew their driver’s licence or renew vehicle particulars to now resort to zonal commands closer to them where the Bodinga decentralised system has made it optional for them to go to these zonal V.I.O Commands in most of the Area Councils and suburbs to access this services. The adherence of the F.C.T D.R.T.S to the change agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration endeared the organisation to the parent ministry, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (F.C.T.A), the Presidency, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other sister security agencies that they are being invited, engaged and collaborated for national presidential assignments. The remarkable, tremendous and commendable display of commitment and determination to national task displayed by officers and men of the directorate during the concluded Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives election in the F.C.T was such that inhabitants of the capital territory had to hail and eulogize them due to diligence, integrity, patriotism and professionalism demonstrated at polling units where some of the D.R.T.S Officers and personnel were drafted to provide complementary observation security. The May 29, 2019 Presidential inauguration was not also an exemption, as D.R.T.S bikers formed the lead team of moving very important personalities from their hotel accommodation to the Eagle Square, venue of the inauguration. Also, routes that were restricted on that day for passage by vehicles were adequately manned by the officers and men of the D.R.T.S. The recent June 12 celebration as Democracy Day was not also left out, as the city gate to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport road that is difficult to control and manage due to violation of traffic laws through indiscriminate parking by commercial cabs and bus operators was successfully curtailed and the route was as smooth as KLM Flight.
The outstanding performances of the D.R.T.S as a team made the Defence headquarters through the Office of the Chief of Defence staff to involve the D.R.T.S officers and men in their marathon. The Directorate has so far participated twice in the marathon. Acknowledgement of their contribution to the marathon made the high level delegation from the DHQ Sports Unit led by Brigadier General Maikano to pay a courtesy call on the directorate recently. All these laudable achievements, collaboration and participation would not have been possible without the dexterity and sustained hardwork of the director, Wadata Aliyu Dogo Bodinga.
Little wonder the African Centre for Supply Chain recently conferred on him the fellowship of the centre in recognition of his service to the nation and contribution to the logistics and transport sector. The F.C.T Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) has symbiotism with sister agencies like the Police, FRSC, Army, Navy, Airforce, Immigration, DSS, Civil Defence and the Prison Service in view of why all these services collaborate in their ministerial joint task force against Kabukabu menace, one chance curbing, illegal parking and other services in the MJTF’s term of reference. As a seasoned journalist, public affairs commentator and traffic activist, I have come across some operational officers and men of the directorate on F.C.T roads. In some cases I dedicated time to interact with them in order to know how they fare even when I know they are underfunded.
The views and opinions are always “go and ask the F.C.T authorities that supervises us”. So, one day, I decided to do just that through Sani Abubakar, the former special Adviser on Media to immediate past F.C.T minister. He told me facts and provided me with evidence. Among his explanations were that actually the directorate generates revenue for the F.C.T, second only to the Abuja Information System (A.G.I.S), but that they are underfunded and also lack the adequate manpower, training, capacity and public relations to meet up tasks and challenges. Even at that, they still manage to utilise their meager resources to discharge their constitutional roles efficiently.
My appeal to the F.C.T authorities is to please increase funding, employ more capable hands and also enhance training for the officers and men.
Also, the officers and men of the directorate should be exposed to more international trainings as the F.R.S.C. in all ramification, the V.I.O is a mother figure to the F.R.S.C, but in most cases, the F.R.S.C is given more attention than the V.I.O, which is not supposed to be. The authority that the V.I.O gets on drivers licence is just 20 percent, even at that their signature is visible on every drivers licence in Nigeria. They lack production plant for number plates and drivers licence. Only Lagos has production plant for vehicle number plates, F.C.T also needs one.
Mahmud writes from Abuja.