Corps Marshal and Chief Executive, Osita Chidoka
Safe driving with Jonas Agwu
Ican still hear the drums beating and the carpets rolling. Glasses are still clinking too. I know that accolades have not stopped pouring in torrents in celebrating an Agency that stakeholders uphold to have done well in 25years.
But the man on whose shoulder rests the business of piloting the Federal Road Safety Corps to attain the dreams of its founding fathers by making it a world class organisation, Osita Chidoka, says the road yet to travel is still far. On February 18, in a paper titled “FRSC AT 25-THE NEXT 25YEARS”, he recounted the 25-year journey. From a crash record of about 25,000 crashes per year prior to 1988, when the World Health Organization adjudged Nigeria as the worst in sub-Saharan Africa, only second to Ethiopia, to about 5,000crashes in 2012, when the World Bank says FRSC is the best model of a lead agency in sub-Saharan Africa, the Corps Marshals believes the Corps can do better in its next 25 years.
In his presentation, Chidoka recalled the strategic road map set in motion by the Corps, such as the introduction of a model call centre and toll free 122 emergency line, establishment of emergency ambulance services, Federal Executive Council approval of a standard school bus whose enforcement takes effect in 2013, FEC approval of the infusion of road safety in school curriculum, strict implementation of driving standards, regulation of commercial transportation through the road transport safety standardization scheme and the development of a national road safety strategy which has led to the setting up of a Ministerial sub-committee.
The challenges ahead perhaps underpin the low profile silver jubilee that focused more on how to make Nigeria and Africa truly crash free in the next 25 years, rather than fanfares when the country is yet to hit the zero target set by the Corps or the 50percent fatality reduction set by the United Nations. During the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, a novelty was set with two unique sessions: a presidential and a legislative dialogue as platforms to truly engage all stakeholders in addressing the crash trend in the country and in Africa. Besides this, the breakaway sessions focused on the five pillars of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety-Road Safety Management, Safer roads and Mobility, Safer vehicles, safer road users and post-crash response.
The presidential dialogue boasted such panelists as President Goodluck Jonathan, General Ibrahim Babaginda, (rtd), Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Dr Muazu Aliyu Babangida of Niger and Dr Kit Mitchell of the CHARTERED Institute of Highway and Transportation, RAC, Foundation, London. At the legislative dialogue the panelists included Senate President, David Mark, Deputy Speaker, Hon Chukwuemeka Nkem Ihedioha, Okey Wali, President, Nigerian Bar Association, Joop Goos, President, International Road Safety Organisation, Prof Isreal Olufemi Taiwo, DG Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN and Dr Alex Izinyon SAN. After the one day jaw jaw, a plan of action was reached. Perhaps for better understanding, it would be needful to present the plan of action verbatim as it was recorded during the conference:
The Conference on Road Safety in Africa organized to mark the 25th Anniversary of the FRSC in Nigeria and help chart a new course for mainstreaming Road Safety practice in Africa with a view to meeting global best standards. A total number of nine hundred and sixty five (965) participations attended the Conference.
The Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria (FRSC) and International Road Federation (IRF) in collaboration with Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), the World Bank (WB) and Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) organized an International Conference on Road Safety in Africa to mark the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of Nigeria’s lead road safety agency, the Federal Road Safety Corps, with the aim of preparing local strategies that meet international best practices in managing Africa’s road safety.
•As a strategy to increase the life span of road in Nigerian, it is important to construct roads that meet international standards with provision for complementary infrastructure such as pedestrian walkways, drainages and weighbridges.
•Conscious effort should be made to encourage effective and enduring collaboration between federal and State governments and Ministries of Works and Transport.
•The issue of State Government effective rehabilitation of Federal Roads in their domain was considered necessary and useful. It is however recommended that the Federal Government after due reconciliation of bills arising from such projects should reimburse the State Governments involved adequately and timely too.There is need for the introduction of speed limits for convoys of Government functionaries and driver without appropriate form of certification should not be allowed to drive.