The directive of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar, that Commissioners of Police (CPs) in the States commence arrest of persons caught using sirens illegally is in order. The police boss is right to insist on enforcement of the law guiding use of sirens to ensure orderliness and sanity on our roads.
Hitherto, all manner of public officers and even private wealthy individuals, especially political chieftains, disturb public peace and the smooth flow of traffic with sirens, especially in the country’s major cities. Unrestricted blaring of sirens constitutes major noise pollution that leads to disorderliness and confusion on expressways.
These siren abusers oftentimes cause road accidents because they infringe on the rights of other motorists, and willfully break traffic laws. Attempts to stop this anomaly in the past did not succeed. It is good that the police leadership is revisiting the matter. Although the directive appears routine, the IGP’s renewed interest in this regulation should ginger the police to enforce it more seriously. Already, the IGP has outlined the category of public officers that are allowed to use sirens.
They are the President, Vice President, State Governors and Deputy Governors. Others are the Senate President and his deputy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy; the Service Chiefs, the IGP, Deputy Inspectors-General of Police, (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), Commissioners of Police (CPs), the General Officers Commanding (GOCs) of the Army, and First Class traditional rulers.
Anyone that is not on the above list is not entitled to use of sirens and the police will do well to ensure that the order is no longer flouted. Abuse of sirens is a form of indiscipline that should be curtailed. Any directive that can help to reduce chaos and noise pollution in the country is welcome. Sound pollution such as that generated by indiscriminate use of sirens is dangerous to the eardrums and the general health of the people.
Abuse of sirens is a part of the culture of self-aggrandizement in the country that should be condemned. Nigerian motorists need to learn to take their turn in traffic and obey all traffic regulations. A practice that encourages some highly placed persons to disobey traffic regulations will not help the quest for smooth flow of traffic and respect for law and order in the society. This disrespect has, oftentimes, led to body injuries to commuters on the roads.
However, it is not enough for the IG to just make pronouncements on this issue. What is important is that the order is enforced to achieve the desired objective. Even for the officers that are allowed under the regulations to use sirens, we urge that they exercise their rights with great care and circumspection. They need to be mindful of the need to avoid bedlam and chaos on the streets.
We enjoin them to display high sense of responsibility and drive with consideration for other motorists. The authority to use sirens should not be construed as an opportunity to run other motorists or commuters off the roads, or injure members of the public. Motorists, generally, should display high sense of responsibility and ensure that they obey all traffic regulations to the letter. Traffic laws are made for the benefit of the generality of the people.
Abusers of sirens should not be allowed to compound traffic woes on our expressways. The police, who are expected to enforce this law, should do it faithfully. It should not be another excuse to extort those who infringe the regulations, and allow them to go scot-free. Failure to interdict and punish those who flout the regulation will defeat its objective and the law will not have the expected deterrent effect. This should not be allowed to happen.
The society will be better served when traffic laws such as the one against abuse of sirens are enforced.