One man who has indeed been giving a superlative account of himself as regards to his job is Mr. Adekunle Ajibade, the Ota Divisional Commander of Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE). The urbane and polished gentleman without mincing words can be said to be the right man for the job. He’s got the finesse.
This suave and unassuming bloke sure knows his onions when it comes to educating those who violated traffic laws.
He was his vantage self when he spoke to National WAVES publisher, Jimmy Enyeh and Photo Editor Wale Yusuf on how TRACE has been able to save lives through ensuring that motorists within its jurisdiction abide by traffic rules. Excerpt.
While addressing members of the fourth estate of the realm yesterday, Mr. Fatai Olaseni Ogunyemi, the Commander and CEO of TRACE stated that 35 persons died in the last two months on account of road accidents. What measure can be put in place to ensure accidents are reduced to the barest minimum in Ogun State?
There are so many measures that have been put in place to reduce road accidents in the state. For instance, vigourous attention has been focused on enlightenment method. Just like what you are doing right now. You will publish this in your medium and motorists will get to read it. To a large extent, this will enlighten them. We are always on the television and the radio stations. We try to annex the media to ensure people are enlightened on traffic rules. Motorists will not use ignorance as an excuse for flouting traffic rules.
Safe and responsive driving cannot be compromised if you want accidents to be reduced on our roads. Although this does not mean that accidents will not happen but what I am saying here is that if you obey the traffic rules and there is a crash, it will definitely reduce the impact that is why we want all road users to obey traffic rules. I have said this times without number, a normal person is not supposed to flout traffic rules. I mean, if a driver is sane he or she should not be seen driving against traffic. Abiding by these measures are for our sake. Imagine the parlance of taking one way, for God sake, it is obscene. We have as well tried to educate those who indulge in this act to know the consequence of driving against traffic. On this, there are road signs that we provided, sign like do not take one way or drive against traffic, it could result in head on collision, speed kills, use your seat belts, wear helmets while on motorcycles and so on and so forth. These are some methods that we use to enlighten the people and reduce road accidents. Then there are those who park their vehicles haphazardly, as you and I know, we are in the rainy season, we know a vehicle can develop fault, but we expect a rational driver to put a C- caution to intimate and alert other road users that they should slow down on account of a faulty vehicle in the front. If a C-caution is not placed, it could result to accidents. Other road users could ram into the stationery vehicle, especially articulated vehicles like trucks. We have also enlightened the drivers driving the trucks that their brake system must be in good order and they have to make good use of it. We also told them to ensure they put their lightnings in good shape. They should also not over speed; the truck brake system is unique. It is not like the other regular brake system that can easily be applied and the vehicle will stop. For the articulated vehicle, you will have to apply, apply and apply before the truck will come to a halt. If the brake system is not in perfect condition, it could culminate into an accident. We have also told the truck drivers not to manage their brake. It is not allowed. It is terrible, it kills. For me, to manage a brake that is faulty is tantamount to committing genocide, it is an unpardonable offense.
In furtherance to this, the issue of motorcycle riders popularly known as “Okada” riders, a lot of them do not use crash helmet. We have continually educated them on the consequence. If the Okada riders are involved in an accident, there will no helmet to protect the heads of those on board. It will have a direct impact on the head of those on board. The consequence may not be immediate but in the nearest future. These are some of those things that we have told them. TRACE is working 24 hours to ensure that accidents are reduced to the barest minimum..
Let me quickly take you on this, you work 24 hours; is it at your expense or Ogun State government pay overtime for this?
Let me seize this opportunity to thank our amiable governor in the state for his magnanimity. Ogun State government has made adequate provision for the 24 hours services. The state government will not tolerate any form of accident. There should not be excuse. He has given the mandate that there should be no crashes or accident in the state. He has empowered TRACE corps to engage in total monitoring of the roads on 24 hours basis.
When you work late in the night, don’t you think the TRACE corps personnel will be vulnerable going by the fact that they are not armed, how do you surmount this challenge?
Thank you very much. On the issue of vulnerability, we have a joint task force. For example in Ado/Odo Ota, we have the joint formation which encompasses Police, FRSC, Civil Defence, Navy and all other sister agencies. We have a formidable formation. All of us work together.
If a driver violates traffic rules, do you educate the driver or you just made him pay the fine and go?
The Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps with the acronym TRACE as it were is traffic compliance and enforcement corps. Ours is not a revenue generating corps, we would have educated you, enlightened you. It is when we notice that you are a recalcitrant offender, you are a persistent offender that we either charge you to court or make you pay some stipends. We may make you do other social services.
How did join TRACE, while in school, did you nurse the dream of joining the corps?
My name is Adekunle Ajibade, I have been in the system for a very long time. I had this idea when I was in secondary school, even when I was in the university, so I did not just find myself here; I have nursed the idea of checkmating those flouting traffic rules since I was in school.
Your job seems to be strenuous on account of your working 24 hours. Has this not affected your family and how do you unwind?
We work on shift basis. Some resumes 6.45 am and close by 1pm, others take over till 9pm, while another shift work till morning. So when I’m done with my shift, I step aside for another person to take over. So this has not affected my family in any way. It has been scheduled. So I am enjoying the job.
Does TRACE organize symposium for drivers within their jurisdiction?
Yes, we do that. Most times we go to secondary schools, primary schools in order to catch them young. We also go to universities, churches and mosques to educate them on the need not to drive against traffic and the consequences if you engage in such act. Garages are also not left out. We go there to educate commercial drivers
We also have a programme for members of National Union of Road Transport workers and Road Transport Employers Association. We educate them, we advice them, we show them images of accident scenes and how to avoid accidents. How accidents can be reduced on our roads or eradicate accidents.
What do think can be done to reduce accidents to the barest minimum in Ota in particular and Ogun State in general?
The first thing to do is enlightenment programme. To enlighten people through the media, radio, television, newspaper and magazine. We invite the road users to a gathering and lecture them. Aside from that, we sensitize the companies and industries. For instance, through the Manufacturer Association of Nigeria, we invite their trucks drivers and educate them on how to use the roads. We enforce speed limit. We ensure they do not drive against traffic. We ensure traffic is controlled on black spot areas on 24 hours basis. We have towing vehicles to tow vehicles that developed faults on our roads. This will reduce accidents on our roads.
Does TRACE tow faulty vehicles free of charge?
Yes, it is free of charge
You just talked about black spot; there is a black spot at toll gate. Most of the commercial vehicles park on the road to pick passengers thereby obstructing traffic. This falls under your jurisdiction. What are you doing to checkmate this trend?
If you get there now, you will see our operatives on ground controlling traffic. We don’t allow them, of course, it is expected that some of them will want to obstruct traffic by picking passengers on the road, you know how these commercial drivers behave but we will not allow them. Our operatives are on ground. We have placed no packing signs there. We are on top of the situation.