CARNAGE ON THE EXPRESSWAY

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The authorities should enforce usage of the speed limiter

No fewer than 36 persons died recently on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when two passenger buses had a head-on collision. Except for a baby who escaped death because the father threw him out through the window of one of the buses, all the other passengers were burnt beyond recognition. Yet as unfortunate as that incident was, it didn’t attract much attention from Nigerians, essentially because they have become accustomed to the story of tears and blood on our major highways.

Perhaps because of their frequency and the high toll in human lives, some persons have started attributing the accidents to the antics of evil forces operating on our highways, especially the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. But there is no need for any recourse to superstition because it is easy to locate what the problems are. Most of the accidents occurred at points of diversion due to road construction activities. Yet, to the extent that hardly a day passes without at least one fatal accident on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, such a state of affairs requires urgent attention from the appropriate authorities.

However, the challenge is more widespread, indeed, national. According to the figures recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 11,363 road accidents were recorded in the country last year alone. Meanwhile, in its 2016 road transport data released in March this year, speed violation accounted for 33.86 per cent of the total road accidents reported within the period. Loss of control and dangerous driving followed closely as they both accounted for 15.43 per cent and 8.53 per cent of the total road accidents recorded respectively. A total of 5,053 Nigerians were killed in road accidents recorded in the period under review – 4,696 adults and 357 children. Some 30,105 Nigerians reportedly got injured.

These dismal statistics are enough for the government at all levels to begin to work on efforts to put an end to the road carnage. The planned introduction of the speed limiting device could help, and there is urgent need by the appropriate authorities to call for a technical session with all stakeholders to enlighten them on the workability of the device. More so, several Nigerian roads across the country have deteriorated. This has become one of the chief causes of road traffic accidents in Nigeria. That is not to say that mechanical factor and carelessness in the form of oversight in checking and maintaining vehicles as at when due are not also causes of road accidents. But they are not the critical factors.

Indeed, the rate of carnage on our roads has become a major national security issue. Besides, the dangerous spots along them have also become convenient operating centres for highway robbers who lay siege on unsuspecting motorists and other road users. So, whichever way one looks at it, travelling by road in Nigeria—which is a necessity in the absence of a functional national railway system—has become a nightmare.

Therefore, we insist that the government, contractors working on our highways and road managers must be alive to their responsibilities in order to save lives on our roads. As a matter of urgency, it is important that the on-going constructions, especially on the Lagos—Ibadan Expressway, are given prompt attention to prevent many of these avoidable accidents and deaths. The authorities, at all levels, must work towards making our roads safe. As things stand today, most of them are no better than death traps.