From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has inaugurated the state traffic management authority, modeled after the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), to check recurring chaotic traffic situations in major cities of the state.
The Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA), as it is called, is to among others functions, control traffic and enforce traffic rules in collaboration with vehicle inspection officers and other federal agencies charged with similar responsibilities.
Operations of DESTMA, Daily Sun gathered, will initially commence in three stations of Asaba, Warri/Effurun and Ughelli before it will be expanded to semi-urban centers of Agbor, Abraka, Udu and Sapele.
Although, governor Okowa had described it as a critical intervention agency in the transport sector, a cross section of motorists in Asaba who reacted immediately expressed fears that the scheme was prune to abuse.
They said officers of the scheme will soon cave in to pressures of monetary inducement particularly from traffic offenders, and urged the government to put effective measures in place of checking such corrupt tendencies.
But the governor while addressing the over 300 officers of the scheme, warned that his administration “will certainly not allow the agency to be caught in the cesspool of corruption.
“We shall deploy undercover personnel on regular surveillance to monitor the activities of DESTMA officials in this regard. Anybody found wanting will be sanctioned.”
He reiterated that the agency was not an avenue for the officers to unduly enrich themselves, adding that “when it becomes necessary to issue fines, please ensure that whatever money is paid is remitted to the coffers of the government.”
Okowa explained that DESTMA was meant to address the average individual’s penchant for lawlessness, noting that the growth of urbanization has created overcrowded cities which has resulted in increasing traffic congestion and other anti-social behavior on the road.
Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Vincent Uduaghan had stated that the pioneer officials of DESTMA were subjected to eight days of intensive induction programme to prepare them physically, mentally and psychologically for the task.
Uduaghan gave a vivid description of the chaotic traffic situation in major cities of the state which the officers of DESTMA are expected to address to bring sanity to the roads.
“We are all witnesses to the recalcitrant attitude of our drivers and the chaotic traffic situation all round the state. Our major road junctions have been turned into illegal parks, market areas are impassable especially on market days, vehicles load and off-load indiscriminately along the roads, and traffic signs are disregarded. The agency’s activities will bring sanity to our driving culture and ensure free-flow of traffic,” he said.