Reducing Carnage On Our Roads | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Reducing Carnage On Our Roads

Posted: Apr 1, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent unfortunate deaths of the Minister of State for Labour, James Ocholi, his wife and son, as well as that of an army officer, Yusha’u Abubakar in a ghastly auto crash along Abuja-Kaduna and Maiduguri-Damaturu roads respectively have again underscored the high level of carnage on Nigerian roads.

Information from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) reveals that 6,052 deaths through auto crashes were recorded in 2010 alone, and by 2012, it went up to 6, 092. In 2013, the road crash death profile hit an all time 6,450. However, at the twilight of November 2014, there seemed to be a decline on these figures as a total of 4, 643 deaths were recorded.  Of course, these figures do not capture the quantum of casualties from road crashes annually in Nigeria, as many accidents are not reported to the authorities. The number could be much more than what has been represented by these official figures.

Checking further, it is worrisome that most of the victims of road accidents in the country are from the young, productive and active spectrum of Nigeria’s population. The recent cases involving the Ochilis and Abubakar are pointers to this fact. It robbed the country of a senior lawyer and a serving minister, a mother and top university administrator, as well as a young energetic graduate with great prospects. How about the fine officer of the Nigerian Army? The economic and social cost implications that these mishaps have brought to the country cannot be quantified.  Unfortunately, research has shown that low and middle income countries are most vulnerable to road crashes. At the last check, about $100 billion is lost to these crashes annually by these countries of which Nigeria is one of them.

Incidentally, the causes of these road crashes are hydra-headed; but the unfortunate aspect of this phenomenon, particularly in Nigeria, is that most of these road accidents are avoidable. It is heartbreaking that Nigeria’s road network falls short of appropriate road design standards to keep up to speed with the increasing vehicular traffic activity volumes and vehicle weights. Many Nigerian roads, just like other infrastructure in the country, have suffered years of neglect, rendering them impassable.

While not discountenancing the efforts of the FRSC in checkmating the high level of road crashes through some of its laudable programmes, it, nevertheless, needs to up its game. For instance, reports abound of indiscriminate issuance of drivers’ license without proper tests and trainings. Interestingly, many drivers plying Nigeria’s roads hardly went through conventional motoring institutes and thereby barely understood the highway codes. Ultimately the nation becomes saddled with those who are deficient in the art of driving.

The truth is that the high road crash profile in Nigeria should not be allowed to keep rising unabated. Therefore, we urge all critical stakeholders to work together to bring the menace to the barest minimum. To do this, transport associations, insurance companies, government agencies, haulage and other professional associations must fully cooperate with all the tenets of the national road traffic regulations. It is absolutely important that the FRSC is reinvigorated and empowered to be a lot more active and responsive to its statutory mandate of ensuring safety on all Nigerian roads without fear or favour.

Beyond this, it is critical that government begins the revamping of the railway transportation system to cater for the quantum of haulages across the country. That way, the number of articulated vehicles on Nigerian roads would reduce and the accidents that they cause would diminish. Certainly Nigeria cannot afford to continue to lose her citizens daily on avoidable road accidents.