SIRENS ordinarily should be alarm signals to herald vehicles on emergency missions. They are also meant to clear the way for a limited number of very important government dignitaries who because of security concerns and official duty imperatives should not be bogged down in vehicular traffic.
Ambulances, fire trucks and the gamut of emergency responders are among those whose movements should be heralded by sirens when in traffic. Besides these emergency responders, the police have listed out ten categories of public office holders who are entitled to sirens while on official convoys.
They include the President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, House of Representatives Speaker, State Governors, Service Chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, General Officers Commanding (GOCs) and Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs).
However, the reality is that several other public office holders and wealthy private individuals illegally mount sirens on their convoys bringing serious discomfort to other motorists and pedestrians. Banks have also joined the craze with sirens on their bullion vans.
Indeed, the abuse of sirens has turned into a torment for many innocent road users. Convoys turn themselves into sources of terror on the roads. It is a great irony that government vehicles which are purchased with tax payers’ money are used to torment them and create noise pollution on the public highways.
In several cases, the pilot vehicles of the convoys do not have identifiable licence plates, putting the public in confusion on the identities of the dignitaries being conveyed. In most cases, the drivers on such convoys drive recklessly putting other road users and pedestrians in harm’s way.
We condemn this act of impunity whereby drivers and security officers attached to siren-convoys harass and intimidate road users simply because they want to clear the road for an individual, whether entitled to a siren or not.
The law enforcement agencies appear to be sleeping on their duty posts while just about anyone who can buy sirens feel free to do so with very little deterrence at the various police checkpoints, mainly because some of the police officers are more interested in collecting bribes than implementing the law.
We recommend the innovation that the Lagos State Government adopted years ago whereby convoys only maintain orderly formations with hazard pointers on but without sirens. It serves the intended purpose without polluting the atmosphere.
The use of siren-convoys to harass members of the public was an act of impunity popularised during the military era. It must stop. After all, it is nearly twenty years since we returned to democracy.
The unwillingness or inability of our law enforcement agencies to do their work does not portray Nigeria in good light in the eyes of the civilised world. This must stop.