Akpan Etukudoh Asare
Increasing number of motorists in Cross River State, particularly in the state capital have raised the alarm over deliberate extortions of money from motorists by men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
They have also alleged that the Road Safety personnel have in recent times embarked on wilful damage of commercial vehicles, including private cars that are not willing to part with their hard earned money as bribe, especially if they did not disobey traffic rules.
According to the a trader and woman leader in Calabar Municipality, Mrs. Justina Effiom Ndem who lives in the metropolis, she had the side mirrors of her Toyota Corolla car not only smashed by one of the Road Safety personnel but also had her tyres deflated.
Relaying her odd experience yesterday to journalists, she had obeyed the men when they flagged her down on an inner city road so that she can listen to them.
“I was neither driving on speed knowing that I was not on the highway nor were my papers in order. They asked for my vehicle documents and were satisfied on sighting them. However, they had insisted that my parking light and tyres were not quite okay. I wanted to ask if they were VIOs. I wanted to also ask if they are to enforce speed limit in inner city roads.
“They insisted that I must hand over my car keys to them or drive to their office. I refused. They harassed me asking me to ‘play ball’. Knowing that I was not disobedient. I stood my grounds and refused to play ball. They said I was stubborn and lawless.
“One who appeared to be their head ordered that my tyres be deflated while he made a call to a towing van. As this wasn’t enough they rained abuses on me. These were intolerable”, she explained.
Another, a school teacher said he went to renew his driver’s licence ten months ago, and that somebody from Road Safety office in the state Secretariat later called him that the license was ready for collection.
He said upon getting to the FRSC office, he and others were further required to pay another N10,000 before they could be handed their licenses after the initial official fees.
There were other allegations from journalists that they were molested by men of the FRSC despite pleas.
Chairman of Correspondents Chapel in the state, Mazi Judex Okoro said he had a raw deal in the hands of the road marshalls even when his documents were complete and he was certain that he did not go against traffic laws.
Taxi driver, Andrew Ekpenyong who was held for inadequate papers, driver’s license and broken windshield said he was forced to part with N3,000 if he did not want to be towed to their office.
Reacting, the PRO of the state command, Mr. S. Ikpi strongly disagreed that their men were extorting money and damaging motorists.
He said they usually cautioned their men against unruly public behavior and would always mete out punishment to any culprits.
Ikpi said encouraged journalists to always report any of their officials who molest any motorists or damage vehicles.