Clamping of vehicle wheel in Enugu State and Matters Arising By Nwaorgu Faustinus

The law establishing the clamping of the wheel of any vehicle wrongly parked along major roads, and even some marked streets, in Enugu metropolis, came into operation in 2011. This was extended to some selected streets early this year.

The major aim of the rule is to regulate the parking of cars along roads and streets with a view to de-congesting the roads and streets, for easy and free flow of traffic. Those who go contrary to this rule have their vehicle plate numbers removed and taken to the EASIPARK office,  for the defaulters to come and collect them,  after they must have paid a fine of N5,000 (five thousand naira). And if the defaulter is within close quarters where his or her car is wrongfully parked and clamped, he or she has two or more options explore – to pay five thousand instantly or later, or have the car plate number removed and towed to the EASIPARK office.

This is the scenario which has continued to play out since the law came into existence; unfortunately, to the disadvantage of the common men who are mostly civilians, and visitors who are unaware of the existence of the rule. As good as this initiative of the Sullivan Chime led administration is, it is important to note that there are some few people who are alleged to be above this law.  This ought not to be so, as the law is meant for everyone.

As the rule of law entails and applies, no one is above the law no matter how highly placed the person is in the society – every Tom, Dick and Harry should be subjected to the same law. But this is a far cry as far as observers of the trend are concerned. Is there justice when a person who belongs to the military, paramilitary, a top government official, or Enugu State PDP bigwig goes contrary to this law and is left off the hook (that is without paying the fine) just because of his status; while his “bloody” civilian counterpart (pays) or is made to pay the said fine?  This was what happened around Mbanugo Bus Stop last month according to an eyewitness who wouldn’t want his name mentioned in print.

According to the eyewitness, an officer of the military parked his car by the side of the road close to Mbanugo Bus Stop without opening the “boot or bonnet” of his car (this is the only way to avoid the wheel of your car from being clamped by EASIPARK officials), same as his civilian counterpart. The duo went to a nearby car spare parts dealer to make one purchase or the other. But when EASIPARK officials arrived at the scene where the two cars were wrongly parked, they let go of the military man’s car because of his position and towed the civilian’s car. The purported unfair application of this law especially to the ordinary man who has no powerful connection to those at the helm of affairs in Enugu state should be addressed.

The above situation was akin to what happened immediately the Enugu State Government passed the law prohibiting the use of motorcycle, popularly known as “Okada” for commercial and private transportation, to forestall the many disadvantages it portends. As soon as Okada was banned, didn’t residents in Enugu metropolis notice the use of motorcycles by policemen unchallenged while the ordinary people who flouted the law had their motorcycles confiscated? And when public outcry heightened as to why uniformed men (policemen) should use their motorcycle to go to work, a directive was immediately passed to all formations to call their officers, men and personnel to order, and this was immediately carried out. Today in Enugu, according to reliable sources, it is uncommon to see low as well as high ranking military men or paramilitary men using their private motorcycles. No doubt, this is how law should be applied.

The administration of Governor Sullivan Chime should extend same law of wheel clamping to highly placed persons no matter their status – cronies of the government in power, government officials, policemen, military men etc- by fearlessly empowering EASIPARK officials to clamp their cars when wrongly parked, if he wants the public to take him serious. This has become expedient to douse the air of above the law, intimidation and superiority the above persons have, which makes EASIPARK officials to fidget, develop servant attitude, sudden inferiority complex at the  sight of such military men, policemen, government officials among others; and cowardly recoil from clamping their vehicle wheels.

Governor Sullivan, local government chairmen and those they have given power to enforce this law should borrow a leaf from Fashola, Lagos State Governor who arrested a colonel and a staff sergeant not too long ago for violating traffic rules and regulation.  If this leaf is borrowed, it will reinforce the perception of the general public that there are no sacred cows in the application of the law.

It is also one thing to make such law, as the aforementioned, and another to provide car parks at strategic places known to be heavily congested with vehicles, to ease free flow of traffic. Marking a particular portion of the road mainly for parking cars and erecting “no parking” signposts are not enough.  It is the humble suggestion of this writer to the Enugu State government and local government chairmen whose influence is in the metropolis to build car parks at strategic places known to be congested with cars not only for commercial vehicle owners but also private car owners; as this will serve as a revenue generating venture for the state and local government.

The Enugu State government should spread information about its “wheel clamping” policy to every nook and cranny by exploring the following avenues: churches, mosques, schools, town criers, social media, online media websites, and blog spots,  radio, newspapers and magazines. It is when this is done that many who would have been penalised for violating the law will be fully aware of it and obey it.

Nwaorgu Faustinus writes from Igboetche, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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