Abuja residents criticise motorcycle crushing, suggest auctioning, fines

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By Tosin Kolade

Some Abuja residents have kicked against the incessant crushing of motorcycles impounded by the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) and security forces.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the authorities have consistently crushed motorcycles seized from traffic offenders, especially those caught in areas the bikes are banned.

Records from the FCTA show that hundreds of thousands of motorcycles have been destroyed in the last two years alone.

The residents, while reacting to the recent round of destruction, told NAN in separate interviews in Abuja on Sunday that the destruction should be replaced with stiffer fines or the auctioning of the motorcycles for use in areas they are not banned.

Some opined that the heavy fines would discourage riders from veering into areas where their presence was outlawed.

They argued that the practice of crushing vehicles and motorcycles was rather “extreme” and could potentially result into an escalation of crime rates, particularly due to the potential loss of jobs in the nation’s capital.

While noting the FCT Directorate for Road Traffic Services’ claim that scraps from crushed bikes are recycled and the proceeds used to fund social services, they pointed out that crushing them had not deterred the riders, hence the need for a different approach. 

A civil servant, Mr Joseph Edeh, wondered why the FCTA would resort to crushing the items, saying that they were the main source of income for the owners.

According to him, imposing stiffer penalties and huge fines would go a long way to discourage those disobeying the traffic laws in the nation’s capital.

Edeh said that many vehicle or motorcycle seizures had affected the disproportionately low income families, with many left in hunger and economic hardship.

“Owners of seized vehicles and motorcycles should be forced to choose between paying a higher fine or forfeiting their property. 

“We all know that the hardship of the land affects every person, crushing these items is too extreme.”

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A journalist, Uche Annune, spoke in the same vein.

“Auctioning and imposing stiff penalties will be more appropriate than crushing these items. Government must operate with a ‘human face.”

According to him, government must be considerate by putting the people first in all its policies and decisions.

“The best way to promote inclusive development is to consider the plight of the desperate poor. Anything outside that can lead to chaos.”

A lawyer, Ms Emilo Atana, also expressed reservations over the crushing of impounded vehicles.

“It is not economically good to destroy social assets like cars or motorcycles. They may be banned in Abuja, but they are very useful in the rural settlements.

“My suggestion is that the impounded could be taken to rural hospitals or schools. There is no doubt that they will be very useful there,” he said.

Offering a divergent perspective, however, a public Servant, Mr Gregory Maduakolam, expressed support for FCTA’s decision to crush all impounded vehicles and motorcycles.

He deemed the action timely, especially considering the ongoing challenges associated with the perpetuation of insecurity involving motorcyclists.

Maduakolam said, “I support the crushing of impounded vehicles and motorcycles because the menace that they cause in the city centre is worrisome.

“Many of the crimes committed here are carried out on bikes; something must be done to prevent these crimes from happening,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Dr Abdulateef Bello, the Director of the Department of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), has said that plans are underway to crush more than 130 impounded vehicles that failed integrity tests.

He revealed that the vehicles would undergo standard verification with those below minimum standards crushed, while the owners could face mobile courts and penalties in accordance with the law.

He said that some vehicles, deemed unfit for the road, would be crushed after inviting owners to retrieve valuable belongings.

“Those arrested for crimes committed under the guise of commercial operations will also be prosecuted,” he said. 

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According to him, the impounding, conducted during evening raids in the last two weeks, aims to combat criminal activities carried out by vehicles pretending to be engaged in legitimate commercial activities.

“The DRTS, aligning with the administration’s vision of zero tolerance for insecurity in the FCT, plans to continue operations until all substandard vehicles involved in criminal activities are removed from the city.

“Efforts have also been made to reduce criminality associated with ‘one chance’ incidents, with a focus on ensuring that taxi operators conduct their businesses within authorised parks rather than on the roads.

“Residents are advised against patronising vehicles outside authorised parks to enhance safety and security.”

Reacting also, Mr Kalu Emetu, the spokesperson of DRTS, called on motorists in the nation’s capital to comply with all traffic laws and vehicle registration requirements, dispelling any notion of animosity between them.

He said that stiff measures were being taken to address the lackadaisical attitude many motorists had adopted that were hurting the country and its policies.

He noted that the DRTS operates under the mandate of the Transport Secretariat of the FCTA, and affirmed the agency’s commitment to contributing to road safety efforts.

He highlighted the crucial role of the task force in maintaining order in the city, lamenting that Nigerians often found it challenging to obey traffic laws.

According to Emetu, the demonstration of patriotism for the country should include timely renewal of vehicle registration papers and viewing the DRTS as collaborative partners in ensuring compliance with regulations.

The PRO disclosed that 13,719 vehicles have been impounded from January 2023 to date for various traffic offenses.

“That is why we call on all motorists to obey traffic rules and renew their vehicle registration on time.

“People drive cars and buy fuel daily, why is it difficult to be patriotic and renew vehicle papers? Why should they wait until they are apprehended?

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“Motorists are our key stakeholders; without them, we would not have work, so, we treat them with respect, we will only encourage people, Nigerians to be bold, we don’t kill anybody, we don’t kill people.

“We don’t have power to arrest any human being, we can arrest your vehicle, but not you. You will only drive it to where you will park it and leave it, when you settle whatever you need to settle, you take the vehicle.”

Emetu noted that the task force, despite not being based in DRTS, functions under the purview of the FCT Minister’s office and has diverse uniformed organisations in it.

He outlined the primary functions of DRTS which included ensuring the free flow of traffic, handling vehicle administration such as registration and renewal of documents, and generating revenue for the FCT.

Responding to allegations, Emetu encouraged the public to report any misconduct by DRTS personnel, assuring that such cases would be thoroughly investigated.

He reiterated the importance of public collaboration, emphasising that motorists are key stakeholders and treated with respect.

Responding to suggestions that fines be increased instead of crushing impounded vehicles, Emetu emphasised that fines were already being implemented within the legal framework.

He pointed out that the effectiveness of fines had been limited, with many traffic violators failing to comply.

The spokesperson emphasised the commitment of DRTS to its primary goal of ensuring safety on the roads and urged the public to engage constructively with the agency to address concerns.

On allegations of corruption and misconduct of its personnel, Emetu acknowledged that enforcement entities often face public skepticism.

He encouraged the public to report concerns about staff behavior instead of confronting them, highlighting the readiness of the office to address public inquiries through its SERVICOM channel. (NAN) www.nannews.ng

Edited by Ephraim Sheyin

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