In this interview with the Kano state Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Corps Commander Zubairu Mato, he speaks on the activities of his command and the challenges. By Frank Kintum
Kano State is known for its population and as the state Sector Commander, how are you coping with the challenges of the population and congestion in the city?
The population is there. You know based on our training, we are professionals in the art of road safety management. We applied what we have learnt from the classroom to practical reality. There is a lot of traffic in some areas. However, our men are always on ground, 24/7 when it comes to rescue, the Kano emergency centre call on us any time they need rescue, the 122 and 211, they all call us and we respond promptly to the road traffic crashes. We also patrol the highways to be sure that the road is free for people to enjoy their movement to their various destinations whichever route they take.
On the over one million tricycles in Kano
We are always concerned and mindful of the huge population of tricycles that are plying the route in Kano. As the Kano state government banned the use of motorcycles/Okada in the city, most of the Okada riders were able to convert to operating tricycles as a means of livelihood, so roughly we have over one million tricycles in Kano and that’s our challenge, so when you go out, you see them in mass, all the junctions, all the roads.
They have disregard for traffic rules and regulations or they lack the knowledge of the usage of the highway, most of them are not licensed to ride the tricycle and are not properly trained, and coupled with the economic situation. Anyone who couldn’t get a job will simply look for someone to buy a tricycle and would start plying the road commercially.
So we want to regulate them, and we have started the process. We have called the tricycle associations, we have the tricycle associations in the state. We talked to all these unions, that we want to sanitize this system because we have observed that in other places before you come to Kano State, they are using that tricycles to perpetuate crimes like armed robbery, theft, to threaten people with objects, steal or snatch phones or to some extent when you put your luggage in the tricycles, when you drop, before you can pay, they zoom off with it. So because of these things, we have advised the unions that there is need to sanitize the system.
How do we sanitize the system?
One, is to make sure that all tricycle riders are properly licensed, in which we have on going to have their data in Road Safety website, if they commit a crime, they can easily be traced. Two, all the tricycles must be registered, they must have valid plate numbers, which they have agreed to and when you look at it, they have complied. Then three, all the riders of tricycles and motorcycles must be properly trained, so how do we do that? We commenced the training, they have agreed, they are bringing their members in batches to FRSC office.
So the first batch, we started with 141, they kept on bringing 120, 130 every week. We dedicated Saturdays or Thursdays for training of motorcycle or tricycle operators, free of charge. Why we doing that is for us to sanitize their behaviors on the highway and now there is significant improvement when it comes to the usage of motorcycles, unlike before, if you come one or two months ago, you will be surprised.
Then we taught them that motorcycles and tricycles are the same, they are not supposed to be at the center lane or the speed lane. They are supposed to be at the extreme right hand side except when they want to turn at a junction before they can maneuver to the extreme left, when they use the junction, they can now turn and move to the right hand side to continue their movement.
There have been occurrences of overload where some of them will carry attachments, they will put a plank and two people will sit beside and the rider will be at the center. We have been impounding them, arresting them, we have banned it.
With the help of the security agents, for those that carry dangerous weapons, threatening us when we stop them, we check the vehicle whether they have some knives which they also use to terrorize people in the night and collect their phones and if you bring a bunch of money trying to settle them, they can snatch the money and go.
Because of the security situation, we visited the Chairman of the Board of internal revenue to ensure that the body code is enforced. If you observed these tricycles, you will notice that there is a body code with the local government code. The body code is for easy identification, if a passenger is not able to recollect the number plates, the body code will be picked up as it is boldly written. With the body code, we will be able to trace the owner of the tricycle in case there is a breach of security, law and order.
So these are some of the things we have put in place to make sure the highway is free and we also embark on sanitizing our road so than only licensed drivers are on it. Anyone who doesn’t have driver license is booked and the vehicle is impounded so the person has to go and follow the due process of obtaining the driver license, which of course, he has to go to driving school for three weeks to learn the rudiments of driving, then he goes for driving test, when he pass, he then goes to the motor licensing and capture to pay the proscribed fee for the license before he goes to Road Safety to do the physical capture, then we give temporary license that will last for only three weeks, after three weeks the original license is ready which he goes to pick. These are some of the things that we are doing.
You said that there are about one million tricycles in Kano, is it on record? Because that number seems to be much.
If you look at Kano, Kano has a population of about 6 million and there are no motorcycles meant for commercial use, so all those commercial motorcycle riders turned to tricycle, so with the unemployment, we have graduates who are riding motorcycles to make ends meet in Kano. So that’s what we have in all the local government in Kano. With the data of the registration, we arrived at one million.
Support from the state government?
We do not have any problem with the state government, we were given an ambulance and they have been assisting the command. This building where we are, it was donated to the FRSC.
How do you go about your public education campaigns in the state?
We go to churches on Sundays during sermons and they give us five to ten minutes to talk to the congregation. We educate them on the usage of the road, what are the causes of crashes and what we have observed within that week or within that month as major causes of the crashes, so that we sensitize and remind people to take adequate precautions.
We also go to Mosques, we select some of the Friday’s prayers in the Mosque, and we also sensitize people. We go the Market where the drivers are loading their vehicles to make sure that they adhere strictly to the guidelines.
Kano is a commercial area, and even the Central Africa Republic people come and buy grains and other things. So we monitor and advise people. And also when we have proliferation like orange markets where people encroach on part of the road and are selling things, we sensitize them that they are not supposed to display their goods on the highway because of the danger that is involved and they adhere strictly.
We are also working towards seeing how the government will be involved in terms of reducing illegal motor parks on the highway.
So we are working on that, we are also collaborating with the state, we wrote to them to clear refuse from the drainage so that the rate of damage of the road as a result of water will reduce, so that there will be free flow of water and the road will be clear.