Kano — Transportation service, which is a key indicator of social and economic development of any growing urban centre in the world is now being characterised by tricycles in Kano metropolis as against bus rapid transit (BRT). Apart from unorganized nature of traffic movement in Kano city, other factors that hinder smooth traffic operation is the presence of heavy traffic personnel that flood busy roads especially within (CBD) in the disguise of traffic control, checking overload, drivers licence or particulars, this method of operation within the (CBD) is unhealthy and obsolete and capable of giving room for extortion. It is only in Kano city one could sight road safety, VIO, KAROTA, civil defence, police Traffic Department (MTD) going round from the one point to other trying to identify defaulters of road traffic for sanctioning, thereby causing major problems of congestion, delay, accident etc. All the traffic personnel mentioned should stick to their primary mandate and responsibility so as to ensure smooth vehicle movement and safety assurance.
The recently reconstituted KAROTA has lived up to its expectation in the area of traffic control and management. Worthy of recognition is removal of street trading and hawkers along IBB way by Kwari market, Abdullahi Wase by Murtala General Hospital and relatively illegal motor park along Zaria road by Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital to Na'ibawa motor parks among others.
Federal Road Safety Commission is a Federal Government agency charged with the responsibility to make the highways safe for motorists and other road users, preventing or minimizing accidents on the highways, clearing obstructions on any part of the highway among others. But they abandoned some of these major duties and flooded Kano streets in search of overloaded vehicles, non- use of seat belts or checking of driver's license. This method of operation is obviously capable of aggravating traffic congestion and disorderly movement. Whereas, in our major highways hardly a day passes without record of a fatal accident especially along Kano - Zaria - Kaduna Road, where the road reconstruction works is ongoing or Kano Dayi road, which is in a state of disrepair etc. These are the areas where road safety assistance is greatly needed but chose to remain in the city leaving bulk of their duties outside the metropolis.
Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS) is a directorate in the Ministry of Works and Transportation. The service is established to inspect, control, regulate and enforce. The road worthiness of motor vehicles in the state. Some of the duties of VIO include pre-registration inspection of vehicles, inspection and issuance of road worthiness certificate (RWC) in respect of all vehicles among others.
But their services now have been restricted to checking vehicles' particulars and driver's licence. They station themselves in a major road or traffic junction stopping motorists for vehicle particulars check. This method of operation hinders smooth flow of traffic, sometimes causing accident with heavy casualty. The worst case scenario is the activities of police traffic department popularly known as (MTD); they often move around in Toyota Hilux especially within CBD arresting different types of vehicles. They assign police officers at their headquarters beside Gidan Murtala where money is collected from them in form of fine without court conviction. This unfortunate situation apart from aggravating the disorderly nature of the traffic, it tends to scare incoming commercial vehicles from neighbouring states and other visitors to Kano for one form of activity or the other.
For sanity to be restored into traffic management system, the following should be adopted as remedies by the state government.
Some roads need to be expanded with provision of Bus stop, lay bay and restriction on parking especially on street parking and provision of terminal facilities, road and informatory signs. This will be followed by the launching of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which has since been procured by the State government but yet to be implemented.
The Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) needs to be overhauled to meet up with challenges of ever growing traffic congestion in the metropolis. More capable hands like traffic engineers, planners, serving and retired VIOs etc need to be engaged into the KAROTA for policy formulation and implementation. More educated personnel with Diploma, Degree and masters degree holders need to be employed in the service in addition to sizeable number of secondary school leavers so that KAROTA should be seen as a responsible and honourable organization carrying out its duties with due diligence just like LASTMA in Lagos or KASTELIA in Kaduna, where their traffic personnel look well trained and friendly with communities.
The edict 2012 establishing KAROTA needs to be reviewed and empowered with more duties on environmental protection, checking of motor vehicle particulars and drivers license and to avoid duplication of functions. Road Safety Corps should carryout their activities 30k/m2 away from the capital city.
New working equipment like communication gadgets, ambulance, motor vehicles, kits and trucks removal equipment etc, need to be procured just like what Governor El-Rufa'I did when he established (KASTELIA).
General enlightenment activities: KAROTA should be duty bound to enlighten road users and the general public through sponsorship of some radio programs and jingles about their duties and responsibilities. They should print hand book containing their functions and traffic/informatory signs to curtail road conflict. Road marking should be regularly maintained: zebra crossing as well as stop notice symbols should be strictly adhered to.
Abubakar Sani writes from C15 Ummi Plaza, Trade Fair Complex, Kano