As the revamped Edo State Traffic Management Agency,(EDSTMA), recently commissioned by His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare ll, Oba of Benin, commences operation in the state, road traffic rules violators are suddenly turning a new leaf, knowing fully well that officials of the agency are deployed in strategic locations, ready to penalize erring motorists.
The atmosphere on roads across the Benin metropolis in recent times can best be described as a new sheriff in town, according to a fellow passenger in one of the taxi cabs I boarded from Ikhuenirho to Post Office, a route once known for indiscriminate parking by motorists which hitherto obstructed free movement of both human and vehicular traffic.
This positive development inspired me to go further on the activities of the sheriffs, I mean EDSTMA officials, took me to Mission, Sokponba, Sapele, New Lagos, Uselu-Lagos, and Dawson roads, where I noticed they are indeed in town.
Motorists, especially commercial bus and taxi cab drivers in Benin can be this orderly, I imagined.
The Officials were observed controlling traffic in areas without traffic lights. They also maintained presence in areas, with malfunctioning traffic lights thereby compelling total compliance to set rules by motorists. Reason being that they would not want to risk paying dearly for disobeying these men and women; they referred to as “Obaseki Police”.
In a chat with a Traffic Warden deployed to Dawson Road junction by Mission Road, who does not want his name mentioned, said, “oga journalist, I no know say all dis bus and taxi drivers dey fear o, you see as dem dey maintain, before, if you talk to dem, dem go say, abeg go sit don.
“Why dem no misbehave now, wen dis people (EDSTMA) don start work?”, he asked smiling, adding, “dem don reduce our work for road no be small”.
The Traffic Warden praised the effort of Edo state government at revamping the agency, but however cautioned against corrupt practices in the system, which he noted can defeat the whole essence of bringing it on board.
The officials well kit up and coordinated, were the cynosure of all eyes, in areas visited. Along Airport Road by the Vegetable Market, where motorists make U-turns indiscriminately, causing traffic gridlock was no more. At another point on Airport Road I noticed they run shift, as officials deployed there were relieved of their morning duties. A young lady EDSTMA official was the cynosure of all eyes as she approached her job with dexterity drawing applause on-looking motorists and passersby.
According to a commercial bus driver plying Upper Sokponba Road, in Benin city, Mr. Nosa Osagiede, who welcomed the new development, said “it has been long we heard they are in training and will soon start work, in fact when I saw them on the road now, I knew government was serious about checking the way and manner people drive on the road in Benin. This EDSTMA I am seeing now is different from the one we had during the Oshomole era, unless they will later change and start to collect bribe later”.
Though I am not good at heaping praises on elected public officials because it is their duty to do whatever they are doing for the good of all, among which is to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. I must commend Governor Obaseki for running the affairs of the state.
The change of guard at Dennis Osadebey Avenue is gradually changing the face of Edo to the admiration of other states across Nigeria, and the governor had at umpteen times proven that, things can not remain the same, especially on our roads where sanity is gradually returning.
During an interview with the Edo Sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Samuel Odukoya recently, the FRSC Boss buttressed the claim that, there is indeed a new sheriff in town, when he said, “go and look at those areas where motorists claim to be stubborn are now cleared, because they know EDSTMA officials have commenced work”.
Edo people had waited for this to come, for the return of orderliness on roads, but I can not end this without urging Governor Obaseki to expedite action on his administration’s proposed market and central Motor Parks in Benin City at strategic areas of the ever expanding city, to take in traders as well as commercial bus and taxi drivers off the roads completely, to further showcase the aesthetics of the metropolis.