By Iteveh Ekpokpobe
In Nigeria, or rather, developing Africa, one task most taken for granted and plagued with barrage of snobbery is traffic management.
Most road users do not really understand the daunting task of clearing a traffic gridlock or ‘go slow’ as colloquially tagged; the myriad of honking vehicles, flying insults from drivers, Impatient and ever busy pedestrians.
The road is always a mad house.
In a city, like Ibadan, capital of Oyo State in Nigeria, with a long history of human population and city life, it takes one with an eagle’s eye for details, and a fashionista’s eye for finesse to bring sanity to the roads plagued with restless users.
Hence, it could be said, that Governor Seyi Makinde, made no mistake on the 28th of August 2019, when he appointed Mogaji (Dr) Akin Fagbemi Stephen as the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority (OYRTMA), right under the Office of the Executive Governor of Oyo State.
Makinde knew that to restore the rep of Oyo state to its glory of yore, traffic order, should top the agenda.
Oyo State, has from time immemorial held a place in history; from Nigeria to West Africa, Africa to the world. It hosts, Ibadan, which was the largest city in West Africa for years.
The stories of Nigeria’s glory days are incomplete without the mention of Oyo State. From Premier college, to the 29 July 1966, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi and General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi saga – a tale of heroism at its core. Sufficed it that as central as Kaduna is to the Northern Oligarchy, so is Oyo to the western federation of intelligentsias.
This is the colorful history, yet rotting reality which Mogaji (Dr) Akin Fagbemi Stephen inherited and was designated to revive.
Indeed, the task has remained ever daunting. Mogaji met a foul looking Administrative Headquarter in the Heart of the State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan; a moribund government agency with highly demotivated, poorly clad and forlorn employees.
But this was no obstacle for one who in almost two decades accumulated a wealth of experience in enforcement operations and leadership of para-military organizations, having worked as a top regulatory and enforcement officer at the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Abuja.
Two years down the line, Mogaji Fagbemi has changed the traffic management narrative of Oyo State. A portmanteau of policies, action plans and visible projects herald the OYRTMA.
The tales of a fleet of rickety patrol and operational vehicles has turned to singsongs of state of the art vehicles and equipment. OYRTMA headquarter now sees better times. The facelift is superb. The once-upon a time bushy and abandoned operational headquarters at Sanyo is now a beauty to behold.
“The operational headquarters, Sanyo, which was graciously approved and renovated completely by Governor Seyi Makinde has the capacity to contain over Two-Hundred and fifty impounded heavy-duty trailers and another One Hundred (100) cars, motorcycles and tricycles impounded for flagrantly violating various road traffic laws of the State. It is worthy to note that similar operational branches have been approved by the Executive Governor for our Akinyele, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Apata, Eleyele and Oke-Ogun Zonal Commands.” Mogaji recounts.
Beyond the physical finesse, viable operational policies such as the Fast-Track Emergency Rescue Operations (FERO) whose goal is give real time emergency medical attention to accident victims within the state was launched.
Other significant Operations ordered by Governor Makinde are the Special Night Operations, Operation-One-Passenger, Stop and Test Operation, Operation No Hold-Up Junior and OYRTMA Clubs in Secondary Schools.
The safety of Officers and men participating in the Special Night Operations is also covered appropriately. A good number of protective equipment ranging from Electronic Reflective Jackets, to Electronic Reflective Batons are available for use.
Today, in view of the credible investments, OYRTMA is fast becoming a major revenue generation agency. Mogaji would say proudly that, “OYRTMA, like never before has quadrupled revenues generated to the State Government coffers.”
“The administration of Governor Seyi Makinde also identified a highly effective communication and feedback mechanism as a strong way to enlighten the people of the dos and don’ts while using the roads to avoid crashes, loss of lives and destruction of valuable properties.”
While pundits may be quick to throw aspersions, the reality stares. The traffic management story of Oyo State is changing for the best.
Is Oyo State where it should be, No, simply because development is never finite, it continuous. The solace amidst the whole matter is that Oyo state traffic development is no longer where it used to be.
The Makinde – Mogaji’s touch has made the difference.