State governors’ drivers, often accused of reckless road use and seen as masterminds of several deadly crashes, have directed the blame at their principals, accusing the state executives of compelling them to violate speed limits and undermine safety.
The drivers say time and again, in a bid to keep with schedules or skirt exigencies, the governors encourage over speeding, and sometimes assume the wheels themselves under an apparently unfit state of mind, according to the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
The findings came as part of observations compiled by the commission during weeks of training organised late last year for hundreds of governors’ drivers across the nation.
The training held at 12 locations, and 22 states took part in the sessions.
Between 2008 to date, 12 state governors’ convoys were involved in accidents, many of them fatal, with 2012 alone recording three, as of June.
The crashes have killed 17 people and left many injured. And in nearly all of the cases, witnesses blamed the convoys.
The FRSC report, parts of it earlier published exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES, highlighted much of the behind-the scenes activities of the racy convoys, which other motorists and commuters accuse of recklessness and harassment.
The commission said it found that dozens of the drivers, many who are poorly remunerated, to have abnormal eyesight and dangerously high blood pressure, with nearly 300 drivers having got their jobs either without a driver’s licenses or with expired permits.
One driver from Yobe state, apparently the worst case, had his last licence renewal in1998.
Besides the physical and medical examinations, the drivers were interviewed to establish their psychological wellbeing as well as the relationship with their bosses.
Many complained of being forced to work under unsafe conditions and hours.
“Some of the drivers claimed they were usually forced to drive above the stipulated speed limits to catch up appointments and that safety was not always the major concern of their principals,” the FRSC said in its report, a copy which was sent to Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who heads the Governors’ Forum.
In virtually all the states, provisions were not made for rest rooms for the drivers where they can refresh themselves while on duty in their primary offices as well as out stations, the report adds.
There were no safety managers in the convoys’ pool to ensure pre-trip, vehicle, driver and the route assessments as prescribed in the Road Transport Safety Standardization Scheme (RTSSS).
The drivers themselves are randomly selected with no guidelines of processes stated for their appointment.
While majority of the drivers were employed with Ordinary National Diploma, Senior Secondary School Certificate, and Training Test, some got the job without any qualification at all.
In written test, out of the 604 that enrolled, only 72 scored A while 137 recorded B and 207, C. Eleven were earned E while 20 failed.
But spokesperson for the FRSC, Julius Agu, told PREMIUM TIMES the commission remained committed to enforcing its laws, suggesting that where violations were confirmed, there would be penalties.
Mr. Agu did not say what the commission was doing to compel governors to treat convoy drivers better and comply with traffic rule.
He simply said, “It’s the same law for everybody; it does not matter whether it is a governor’s convoy. For driving without a driver’s license, there will be sanctions.”
Read our first story on the report here: INVESTIGATION: Dozens of governors’ drivers have poor eyesights, high blood pressure