Nseobong C. Akpabio

Nseobong C. Akpabio, MON, Assistant Corps Marshal Zonal Commanding Officer, Federal Road Safety Corps Zone Rs2 Lagos spoke with Tony Nwakaegho in this exclusive interview on the role of technology on the Agency’s operations,the award of “Best Use of Technology Government Agency” conferred on the Corps by the organiser of Nigeria Technology Awards in Lagos and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

What is the role of Technology in the operation of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Nigeria?

Technology has enhanced our public enlightenment, awareness creation, our stakeholders’ collaboration, our investigation of any crime that is being committed with vehicle in any part of the country or using driving licence in any part of the country. Without technology, we cannot achieve that, and so technology has really enhanced our service delivery. A case in point is when a driver is given a ticket, then the details of why the driver is booked is transited to our data bank. On the average every week the corps arrest not less than 10,000 drivers all over the country for various offences. You multiply 10,000 per week times four weeks in a month and in a year, then you can approximate and know how many offenders we have apprehended for the couple of years now in the system. Technology has really enhanced our service delivery.

What is your assessment of the Nigeria Technology Awards of which you are a recipient?

We appreciate the organisers of the event and we are encouraged by recognising our efforts and our modest contribution to national development and we urged them to do more and assist the Federal Road Safety Corps to educate the public in the various services being rendered. But one thing is clear, I want to say not that we are here and being given an award, that people who are participating in this event for us to witness this event next year, the participants, organisers and our stakeholders must be road safety conscious because road traffic crushes does not respect anybody. Nobody has immunity against road crush. So if you are to witness this event next year we need to think road safety. Now if you are on the road as a driver how much respect do you give to other road users? If you are a CEO of a company or firm do you recognise that your shoulder or status should not be transferred to the route? If you are an owner of vehicle you must plan your trip before you move. Road safety is a joint responsibility. It is for everybody no matter how small or big and you must be part of the project.

What are the challenges your agency is facing using the ICT in your operations?

You know for now in Nigeria internet connectivity is a problem.  At times somebody want to be attended to like the issue of drivers licence and the broadband may not be available immediately, so we have to wait until the thing to improves. Assuming there is improvement in the bandwidth sent out to our services that will be a better way. Again most of the equipment we use, some are imported. So when there is a breakdown you have to contact the supplier to assist. Although I want to say how many of the agencies are doing what we are doing. We are utilizing our young officers who are graduates in various technology fields to handle most of our back office for what we do. God has helped us a lot instead of waiting for someone to come from outside to do one or two changes, our staff being groomed internally handle such things. Driving licence like I mentioned earlier on have about 200 centres all over the country.  With technology we can capture an applicant and instantly he is given a driving licence. The detals of the applicant is transmitted to the central data base and it’s being produced and sent back to the person. The place where you are is the place it is given to you. If somebody vehicle is going to be registered, due to technology you can capture the data of the person, no matter the volume of the detail involved and its being transmitted to any of the agencies like the police, EFCC, Customs and other services around that requires our input. Instead of carrying files to any of the agencies, in our office we can sit down and access what you want to get. Even the journalist needs information on how many offenders were arrested last week and can get the details on our site. So many things we are doing now using technology has really enhanced our service delivery.

What has FRSC put in place going forward using technology as we enter into the Yuletide period to reduce road crushes?

Right from January this year, we have been training our personal on the use of breathalyzer for instance to capture drivers that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We are also using technology to create awareness on the danger of road traffic crushes all over the country. Before now we only use the NTA to make the announcement, but now an officer going o patrol or in a motor park with technology can announce to the whole world where you are and what you are suppose to do. With technology, you are driving on the road and there is a traffic gridlock, instantly with the Command there, using the Facebook you can inform the public that the road is having a gridlock, “please just wait, in a couple of hours you will be through. We have been so marvellous in what we are doing with technology to enhance our service delivery. Last week I was in Harvard University for a programme and I was communicating with my chief executive on what I was doing. We are one of the agencies in Nigeria that understands the role of technology in service delivery and we embrace it whole heartedly.

Looking at NiTA programme, how do you assess what it intends to achieve?

We are one of the awardees today and what I could say is that if someone recognised your effort you are propelled to do more in what you are doing before your recognition. Definitely we are challenged to do more for what we are using technology to do now. We are prepared to take the lead role in traffic management. We will see the areas that we need improvement and key into it to enhance what we are doing. All our Commands all over the country are linked to the net and every commanding officer and personnal of the Corps are being encouraged to be alive to their responsibilities using technology to enhance what we are doing. So this event today being part of the recognition of our effort will enable us not only the Corps Marshalls, every staff of the Corps to appreciate this recognition and we need to do what we need to do.

What is the update about the registration of new number plates in the country?

Initially the old system recognises that you have to go from your local government area to the state. Now they say we should be reformed to enhance recognition. If it is a crush before you can count one, two and three to know the number, but now you can take the first digit and the number to trace the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle. People said at a point that we should change all over, but we recognised that there is no way everybody can change their number plate at the same time so we advise that the stakeholders – State government, Broad of Internal Revenue, VIO, Police and the rest decided that it will be better  that when the vehicle licence expires as you are going to renew your vehicle licence, that time you renew your vehicle number plate. That is what is done now unlike before whether it expires or not. So now if you have the old number plate but it’s not yet expired as you are going to renew the vehicle licence you are required instantly to change from the old number plate to the new one. That is what the law says.

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