By Polycarp Onwubiko
In the spirited efforts to scale down the ever escalating incidence of road crashes and the carnage and dumping unidentified dead persons, the Amalgamated Road Travellers /Passengers Association of Nigeria [ARTPAN] in collaboration with the Anambra State Ministry of Transport, and the state command of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, organized a one day Sensitization Seminar at the May-Roses hotel, Amawbia, Awka capital territory on Thursday November 30, 2023.
The Theme of the Seminar was “Passengers/Travelers Welfare, AN ORGANIZED TRANSPORT MANIFEST SCHEME IN ANAMBRA STATE”. The aims and objectives of the seminar were rooted in the role of public transporters to the passengers to ensure safe travel and taken cognizance of road crashes, the victims’ relatives would be contacted in addition to easing the job of mortuary attendants whereby unidentified corpses constitute health hazards to the public.
The focal point is to reinvent the abandoned Passenger Manifest with proper arrangement that will show all the necessary information and in addition to fulfill the requirements of Insurance companies which by law are meant to pay compensation to the road crash victims and the dead relatives.
The seminar which featured presentation of papers and oral remarks renewed the awareness of the travelling public not to take things for granted. The importance of reinventing commercial vehicles Travelers’ Manifest as being done in air travels became more appreciative to align with the global standard practice in motor commercial transportation.
Dwelling extensively on the crucial need to restore and inject modern method in passenger Manifest, the secretary of ARRPAN, Stephen Osai said that ARTPAN as a legally registered Association by the Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC], ON THE 7TH OF January, 2018. He said: “We have come to provide this needed welfare for passengers in Nigeria. It is worthy to note that the Association has officers in the 36 states of the Federation including the Federal capital territory, Abuja.
“Before now we noted with dismay the way passengers involved in road crashes are treated including in the medical facilities where most times they are required to make deposit before they can be treated thereby causing us to lose our loved ones untimely which could have been averted. How then will this Association change the narrative?
“The Association in bridging the gap will be coordinating with the FRSC, ATMA and other relevant stakeholders in the evacuation of accident victims to the hospitals and make sure they get access to medical attention immediately. It is important to note that our robust Insurance Scheme has been styled in such a way that there must be compensation to the passengers [our members] when the unexpected happens.
“It is a collective responsibility for us all as we help in actualizing this. There must be proper driver orientation to always adhere to the stipulated speed limit as this has really caused us pains. I urge transport companies here present to take this message home; that ARTPAN is ready to provide the necessary welfare for passengers”.
The Secretary, ARTPAN further passionately appealed to the Anambra state government through Hon Commissioner for transport, Barrister Mrs. Patricia Igwebike to support ARTPAN to achieve its aims and objectives since the body is the rightful organization to take proper care of the traveling public. He deplored instances where revenue task force carrying guns claiming to be the staff of Anambra Internal Revenue Service, IRS regularly storm motor parks demanding a share of the Manifest charges from the transport operators while they do not provide the concomitant services to the passengers travelling on the high way.
A Lagos based Insurance practitioner, Mr. Okechukwu Achusim commended ARTPAN for holding the seminar since it was anchored on the welfare of passengers on board of commercial vehicles. He said that the Insurance companies have keyed into the global standard and with proper information in the Passenger Manifest, payment of compensation of the road crash victims would no longer be delayed.
He decried over taxing passengers in addition to resorting to unethical practice to distort the road crash incident ostensibly to shortchange the Insurance companies to make money out of the misfortune of victims of road crash.
He said that records should be electronically transferred to the insurance companies and daily data bank maintained for people that commute daily since the state government might need it for planning with respect to revenue generation. He advised ARTPAN to be faithful in paying the premium which will be graduated in the course of time.
In her brief remarks, Barrister Rita Ogbuagu affirmed with what the Insurance expert had said, advising that ARTPAN should strive to be honest with the Insurance companies for a smooth cooperation. She stressed on proper filling out the Manifest to enable the insurance companies to meet up with the strict demands of the regulatory agencies. She commended Governor Charles Soludo for striving to accomplish his vision of transforming the state into a livable investment destination.
In their separate remarks, Mr Sylvester Obiakor and Mike Osuji while commending ARTPAN stressed on the need for transparency and accountability so as to get the support of the state government.
Also speaking on behalf of the Hon Commissioner for transport, Mr. Christopher Okeke while hailing the ARTPAN, advised commercial motorists to be mindful of traffic rules and regulations especially as the Yuletide is approaching. He reiterated government’s ban on the sale of alcohol and drugs in the motor parks and advised motorists to be conscious of keeping their vehicles roadworthy and refrain from parking at unauthorized place to avoid payment of fees to ATMA operatives.
In her remarks, the Anambra Federal Road Service Commission, FRSC Chief Route Commander, Emelda Odunukwe who represented the State Sector Commander, said that the essence of Passenger Manifest is to identify road crash victims both dead and injured who are carried to the hospital.
She stressed the need to fill the Manifest properly and copies sent to the FRSC to contact the relatives of road crash victims and other appropriate quarters for documentation and necessary action like the insurance companies for prompt processing of the claims by the victims and the relatives of the dead.
She advised ARTPAN to advise passengers to put down phone numbers of their relatives and not theirs and indicate the gender [male or female] while the kids should have their names indicated at the back of the Manifest. From experience, she contended that over 90 percent of road crashes were due to the carelessness of the drivers.
In his remarks, the VIO, Engineer Mac-Donald Achuam advised ARTPAN to intensify efforts on sensitization program adding that his office are always on hand to help out in the event of road crashes and work cooperatively with FRSC and ATMA. He cautioned drivers against overloading which leads to greater fatalities when road crashes occur.
The Hon Speaker of Anambra House of Assembly, Hon. Somto Udeze represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Barrister Jude Ngodili said that the House of Assembly will domesticate the Federal law on ARTPAN since it is the role of the legislature to make laws for the good of the society.
He said that the seminar was enlightening with respect to the welfare of the travelling public. He appealed for cooperative efforts of ARTPA, FRSC, ATMA and Insurance companies to enable the transport sector strive to meet the global standard for the overall welfare of the society.
He urged ARTPAN to adhere to the state government’s rules on the payment of fees to enable it provide the necessary infrastructures for their operation in addition to calling for such seminar at regular intervals to enlighten the public.
Highlights of the epoch making event were conferring of Awards to the Hon. Commissioner for transport and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, ABC Transport, Lagos. An Investiture was conferred on the critical stakeholder of ARTPAN, Chief Agusi Maduka.
Other big transport companies that graced the occasion were TRACAS, Young Shall Grow, Chisco transport company, Prime Time, and others and issuance of certificate of participation.