By Richard Elesho
At last, motorists and commuters plying roads in Lokoja the Kogi State capital have been breathing fresh air of freedom from operatives of the Kogi state Roads Transport Management Authority, KOTRAMA since the beginning of this week.
There are suspicions the outfit may have been sacked from the roads.
Dressed in their uniform of crimson colour shirt on black trouser, the men have become notorious for terrorising road users in the city with their style of operation.
The officers have serially been accused of flagrant display of unwholesome practices and high level compromise in the duties with their rampant extortion of motorists and commuters.
Their fines usually hovers between N5,000 to N50,000 depending on their own definition of the severity of the offence committed by a motorist.
A motorist may also be fined for multiple offences depending on the mood of the officer.
Our correspondent reliably gathered that the Kotrama Officers were sacked for their deviation from the law that established them with realization that they had became a law to themselves arresting motorists at will, even without contravening known traffic laws.
The source added that the officers who were carried away by their illegality which were left unchecked for a long time had in addition usurped on the roles of Vehicles Inspection Officers, VIO and Federal Roads Safety Corps FRSC.
According to the source who pleaded anonymity, KOTRAMA was a creation of law of the state, but in the process of the enactment, some people under the guise of consultancy, surreptitiously smuggled some clauses into the bill that was finally passed by the Kogi state House of Assembly.
”The state Government in its attempt to bring sanity to road Management, initiated a bill , but the bill was allegedly doctored by some persons before its final passage.
”The initial concept is for them to control traffic at intersections and roundabouts. They were to help school children at Zebra crossings, and to help accidents victims and to clear off the road accident debris.
”But, the officers left their core mandates and began to unleash mayhem on motorists and commuters for flimsy violation of traffic rules. They extort money from motorists , collect bribes and in some cases beat up their preys for not meeting their demands.
”They were not better than thugs and agberos. They unleash terror on people. They often demand drivers licences, fire extinguishers, seat belts, spare tyres, windscreen crack , head lights etc, which are all outside their duties,” the source lamented.
It was gathered that the withdrawal of the outfit may not be unconnected with an alleged recent face off between the KOTRAMA Officers and VIO over usurpation of duties.
When contacted the Commissioner for Transportation, Hon. Joseph Baron Okwoli said he was not aware of their sack, but promise to make inquiry and call back.