By Obah Sylva. Abuja.
The newly appointed Director of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Abdulateef Bello has said legislation is the major challenge toward the eradication of motorcycles popularly known as Okada in Abuja.
Speaking exclusively to The Trumpet over the week, the Public Relations Office Mr Kalu Emetu who spoke on behalf of the Director, noted that it will be difficult to eradicate okada without proper legislation. He, however, was optimistic that the directorate is doing its best to ensure that the Abuja transportation master plan is strictly adhered to.
Bello said, “Unlike other states where on the instance of the governor, the state House of Assembly will come up with a law that bans Okada, it is the National Assembly made up of people from different parts of the country that make laws for Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Most times they look at things in the way it affects their home state and try to bring the same here.
“We are struggling to make sure that the provisions of the Abuja transportation master plan is maintained. Though we are getting it right 100%, proper legislation has been a major challenge.
“You cannot just make a pronouncement that Okada has been banned. It has to be backed by law. And the administration is working hard to make sure that the law-making process is done in the way it’s supposed to be done.” Bello added.
He noted that the good synergy with other law enforcement agencies is yielding the much needed reward in curtailing traffic offences in the FCT.
“I’m glad that we have good synergy with other law enforcement agencies. We are making efforts to curtail the excesses on the airport road and other major roads in the FCT.
“The airport road is a presidential route and a gateway to the nation, that is where most visitors and investors to FCT pass through. It is an eyesore for Okada to be on Airport Road and other major Roads. Some may even be driving against traffic. What kind of impression are we giving to our visitors? That is why the new leadership of the Directorate is making the needed reforms and to enlighten the masses.”
Bello reiterated that it is a huge security risk for Okada to be on a major road like the Airport road. He noted that the directorate will continue to educate Okada riders on the risk involved.
He however disagrees that it is due to lack of enlightenment on the part of commuters that has led to the huge numbers of traffic offences and prosecution. He noted that though the directorate is working with a small budget which might not give the needed impact, he said that all forms of enlightenment have been deployed by the directorate to get the needed result.
While stressing that the huge number of prosecutions was part of the administration’s effort in ensuring that the right things are done, the DRTS boss noted that in a recent meeting with the Okada union, which was an opportunity to enlighten Okada riders, the directorate gave the union the option of abiding with set rules and risk outright ban.
On the issue of traffic gridlock in some major areas of FCT, Bello said it is due to the operation of illegal parks and the directorate has been working hard to ensure that the needed enlightenment is given to operators of the parks.
“A few days ago we were at Area 1, Area 8 and Apo Bridge as part of our enlightenment and enforcement campaign. We made them understand that if the park is filled up, they should move to another park. You don’t have to drop or pick up people on the roads.
“From now on offenders are going to pay for training. We will take them to our training centers and educate them, the education is part of the enlightenment we are talking about. During that period their vehicle will be confiscated. All these are put together to serve as a deterrence to others.
DRTS boss sounds a word of warning that henceforth the directorate will no longer take lightly any attack on its personnel. He stressed that attackers will be prosecuted by the laws of the land.