The Cross River State Director and Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, Engr. Paul Bepeh in this interview speaks on a number of road traffic issues in the state, the impending enforcement of the Motor Ordnance Test (MOT) certificate, overloading of vehicles and many more…
How would you describe the road traffic culture in Cross River State?
We have achieved 60% compliance as compared to any other town in the South-south or in our country Nigeria today. We achieved this through massive publicity, enactment, enlightenment, enforcement and prosecution of violators of traffic rules and regulations.
What have been the challenges in carrying out enforcement?
The challenges are resistance by motorists to checks and attacks on our officers mostly by heavy duty vehicle operators. One of my staff was stabbed by a tanker driver here in Calabar last year during enforcement. We have been regulating the movement of trucks here in Calabar to prevent traffic congestion. There have been interface with tanker drivers’ union to regulate their conduct. Generally, nobody wants to be arrested or be friendly with law enforcement agencies, hence the hostility we face during enforcement.
But we still see stationary trucks on the highway
There are two categories of trucks on the highway. Most of those trucks you see are going out of Calabar. They load premium motor spirit, park and wait to get clearance before they move out of the city. But when it is too late they spend the night before moving out in the morning. We have provided a temporary loading bay for the trucks along Goodluck Jonathan Way to decongest traffic on the highway.
How often do you train your staff?
We just finished one on 10 February. After the Carnival and enforcement during the busy travelling by motorists in December, we carry out reappraisal and training between January and February. These are training months for our officers. The training of 10 February had as its theme: ‘Vehicle Inspection: A Tool For Motor Vehicle Administration’. It was attended by various agencies such as Customs, Road Safety, Fire Service, Army, Police, Red Cross, etc. during which facilitators delivered beautiful papers. Training of our men is a continuous process. During the recent exercise, the Commissioners for Transport, Works and other top officials flagged off the event and also commissioned our vehicle inspection bay. The bay is for testing vehicles to ascertain their road worthiness. All vehicles must be subjected to the road worthiness test at this bay before MOT (Motor Ordnance Test) certificate and the Road Worthiness certificate will be issued to the owner of the vehicle. Very soon we will enforce the MOT because a vehicle that is not road worthy poses a great danger to other road users. There will also be a compulsory driving test for drivers coming to renew or get new driver’s license.
Have there been cases of misconduct involving your men?
Yes. Right now two of my men, a Route Commander and his subordinate, are under suspension over what I call transferred aggression that led to rudeness to a motorist. The other one was put in the guardroom for a few days and was tried in our court and given warning. It is not in our culture to be rude to motorists. Usually, complaints about indiscipline among our men are thrashed during our fortnightly meetings and at another meeting in the first week of the month with divisional commanders when they come for briefing.
How do you deal with overloading by cab drivers?
Motorists are very stubborn. We have been educating them on the danger of overloading. But motorists tell us they overload because of economic hardship. We educate them against endangering the passengers and reducing the lifespan of their vehicles through overloading. Sometimes when we check overloading and other traffic violations, it leads to road crashes as motorists flee to evade arrest. Some motorists crash their vehicles into people’s homes. We hold Town Hall Meetings with taxi unions and they try to talk to their members.