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Regional News of Monday, 15 November 2021

Source: www.thisdaylive.com

Motorists, tricycle, okada operators groan over extortion by TRACE Corps

Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE) Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE)

Motorists and particularly, operators of commercial tricycles and motorcycles popularly known as ‘okada’, have cried out over alleged highhandedness and extortion by men and officers of the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE).

Some of the operators, lamented that some personnel of the agency have abandoned the reasons for the creation of the agency and most times are only interested in how much they would take home daily.

Several tricycle operators at Sango in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state alleged that the TRACE Corps have turned them to Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) over trumped-up charges.

The operators alleged that the extortion, which was being perpetrated on daily basis, was more rampaint from Thursdays, in the name of gathering money for the weekend.

They also lamented that operatives of the agency sometimes impound their motocycles for hours depending on when they are able to raise the amount demanded from them.

In his reaction, the Public Relations Officer (Media and Strategy) for TRACE Corps, Mr Babatunde Akinbiyi, said the agency was aware of some of the allegations over time, but the organisation can only act on accusation backed with concrete evidence.

Akinbiyi said: “I won’t dispute the fact that some of our operatives are overzealous in their approach and methodologies they used at times. Some of them had been found wanting in this regard and that is why we expose all the operatives to training and retraining for them to be more effective.

“The core values of our methodology is efficient service delivery. We are to correct, not to punish.”

Speaking on the issue of extortion, he said he had been hearing some of such, adding that it would require concrete evidence, which he requested should be brought forward before any of its accused personnel could be sanctioned.

According to him, “We have been hearing a lot of allegation there is no doubt about that but we tell people that if you are sure of what you are saying, bring evidence. Let us have facts to justify the fact that somebody did this or did that.

“There are so many ways we can use to catch anyone. We are in the technological driven age. You can do recording, your pen, wristwatch can record. It is not only your phone that you can use to record, so many other gadgets you can use to record discretely.

“The thing here is that most of us here in this part of the world, we think too high and too big of ourselves that we cannot be corrected for certain misdemeanor especially, when it comes to certain infringements like road traffic matters and it is very unfortunate.

“Take for instance, traffic signal light. What is there? Wait, while others cross or while others use the road. But we are always in a rush or in a haste. And when you are penalised because of what you caused because what you caused can affect other road users, there are arguments.

“Most of us are not considerate of other road users. If we are considerate of other road users, you make sure that what you are doing does not affect other road users.

“If you are penalised for any offence, you will be brought to our office. For you to know what you have done, and what it can cause not only to yourself but other road users, we will tell you, we will counsel you. We will also show you a video concerning what you have done, because what you see is different from what you hear and its implications.

“There are specific fines for various offences. If you are penalised for any offence, nobody will take money from you on the road, you will be given a ticket indicating your offence and how much is your fine which you will pay in a designated bank account.

“In addition to the payment of fine, we will make you go through a period of counselling on the implication of what you have done.”

However, efforts to get the reaction of the Ogun State Commissioner for Transport, Mr Gbenga Dairo, were unsuccessful.

A call to the commissioner on his mobile line, he said: “Get in touch with the MoT Media Manager in the first instance.”

The media manager promised to book an appointment with the commissioner, which has not been possible as at the time of filing this report.

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