Abuja – The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Transport Secretariat has advised taxi drivers operating within the territory to always obey traffic regulations to avoid problems with the authority.
Mr Ifeanyi Ughamadu, the Head of Public Relations, FCT Transport Secretariat, gave this advice in an interview in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja.
Ughamadu said that FCT operates under rules and regulations which every resident was expected to adhere to.
“FCT operates within laid-down rules and regulations and we equally have our traffic regulations.
“Our Vehicle Inspections Officers (VIOs) Tax Force operate within the ambit of these laws, and their main task is to ensure that there is sanity on our roads.’’
He said that recent protests by taxi drivers in the territory were informed by reluctance of the drivers to obey regulations in regards to picking and dropping passengers.
According to him, the task force set up by the FCTA operates within the law and only apprehends recalcitrant drivers.
“The FCTA has several task forces set up to maintain sanity in areas like the environment, building regulation as well as traffic control.
“ Ours is to ensure that commercial vehicles picked and discharged their passengers in designated bus terminals and taxi parks.
“If residents obey the laws, they need not have problems with the task force.”
He denied the allegation that an official of the task force caused an accident that led to the death of a female passenger, describing it as lacking in merit since the Police had yet to confirm the story.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers have staged protests demanding the withdrawal of the task force, accusing its members of harrassment and extortion.
Abdul Malik, one of the taxi drivers, alleged that a female passenger lost her life in an encounter between a taxi driver and a task force official.
“I witnessed it last Sunday, when the task force man stopped the taxi which already had a pregnant female passenger.
“The official suddenly started dragging the steering wheel with the driver, the vehicle lost control, hit an electric pole and the woman started bleeding from the mouth, she later died.
“Government should scrap this Vehicle Inspection’ Task Force and allow the regular VIO do their job because those ones are more professional.’’
Mohammed Abdullahi, another taxi driver said that the officials usually posed as passengers to deceive unsuspecting taxi drivers.
“They usually pose as genuine passengers and flag down the taxi.
“When we stop, they turn around to accuse us of illegal parking and start to harass us, and they know that there are no adequate taxi stops along Abuja roads.
“This is unacceptable; and the task force should be scrapped,’’ he said.
Idris Ibrahim, another taxi driver, also urged the government to proscribe the task force for its overbearing behaviour of its members on the roads.
“They beat up our drivers and vandalise our vehicles; this is not the reason why government employed them and they should be stopped before they create serious problems in the FCT ’’he advised. (NAN)