By Jonas Agwu
Last week, I concluded the first part of this piece with a talk on toll gates in Morocco. I recalled the concern raised by the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps over the removal of toll gates in Nigeria how its absence has handicapped road with the resultant increase in traffic infractions such as excessive speed and overloading among others. Morocco graciously adorns its highways with toll gates even though traffic sometimes builds up there, but it was exciting to see tollgates with multiple lanes and surveillance cameras.
It is ironic that we rarely can copy and paste global best practice without either fund mismanagement or deviation from the approved standards which is why the present government is daily battling to fix such leakages. The roads were properly marked and maintained to show that road safety is nothing without the appropriate infrastructure. If u have been to Morocco or you know your geography well, then you will know that it is a North African country that has exploited its Gods given resources to better its society. While we are yet to exploit nature by deploying solar energy to fast track energy needs and development, Morocco has made good use of solar. All through our stay in Mihad hotel, light was constant.
I saw traffic build up along the highways. I saw traffic officers neatly dressed doing their duty which is service to the public. Even in the traffic buildup, not once did I hear the blaring of siren driven vehicles escorting Christmas chicken and sallah ram. Neither did I see vehicles driving against the flow of traffic like the case here by those who feel they own the land or they have a protection against crash or death. Decency, patience and responsible driving was what I saw. I know that since human factor is problematic in traffic management there certainly would be some deviants but I was fortunately not to see any.
Before you say e don do, meaning it is enough, please allow me tell you that I also saw drivers belted. I can go on and on yet I rarely saw my colleagues in uniform whose presence should compel compliance which underscores the role and buy in of the motoring public to project a safer road safety. I did not see potholes. I did not see broken and abandoned vehicles at the middle of nowhere waiting to blame someone else. I know it is our statutory responsibility to clear obstruction but it is the legal responsibly of a driver to ensure that in the event of a break down that the vehicle is properly cleared off the road and a standard caution displayed to avert oncoming vehicle crashing onto the broken down vehicle. There is no law that permits a driver to display leaves as a caution sign. There is no law that allows you as a driver abandoning your broken down vehicles and blaming government for not clearing it. The law demands that you clear the vehicle and display standard caution sign
I saw hard shoulders properly marked and obeyed by the few vehicles seen changing tyres or doing minor repairs. But I saw underage children not properly strapped at the back of a vehicle. I saw a truck and car driver obeying lane rules and speed but using phones. I saw my colleagues with their mounted speed camera operated by a lady in uniform…beautiful. On the outskirts of town, I saw okada no helmet.In the city the story was different. One exciting view was the appropriate speed posted at 100km/ph but when approaching service lanes, the speed posted ranges from 100km/ph to 80, 60 and 40, thus providing the appropriate guide for road users.
Casablanca driving was different. Tt reminded me of Lagos driving with all the madness or a measure of insane driving. Casablanca is the largest city and commercial hub of Morocco just like Lagos which is the commercial hub of Nigeria. Casablanca, is located in the central-western part of Morocco and bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the largest city in the Maghreb region, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically. Casablanca is Morocco’s chief port and one of the largest financial centers on the continent. According to the 2014 population estimate, the city has a population of about 3.35 million in the urban area and over 6.8 million in the Casablanca-Settat region. Casablanca is considered the economic and business center of Morocco.
The leading Moroccan companies and many international corporations doing business in the country have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent industrial statistics show Casablanca holds its recorded position as the primary industrial zone of the nation. The Port of Casablanca is one of the largest artificial ports in the world, and the second largest port of North Africa, after Tanger-Med 40 km (25 mi) east of Tangier Casablanca also hosts the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy. Now you get the drift why there is a semblance of insanity with the use of use of phone, riding without helmet…hustle and of Lagos…reminiscent of a commercial city. Yet even in this madness or insanity with respect to a measure of traffic disobedience, drivers in Casablanca are saints compared to some of our drivers who would drive against traffic even when the road is free. I know there are good and decent drivers here but the few deviants make our job look like we are failing when in actually fact we are striving in the face of available logistic, thanks to President Mohammad Buhari who love for the Federal Road Safety Corps stands out. The number of deaths on Moroccan roads fell by 2.62% in 2017, State Secretary for Transport, Mohamed Najib Boulif, said Monday in Rabat.
From what I just told you Morocco like every other country has its own share of challenges in keeping with its 35million population compared to Nigeria the giant with about 200million population.Report says Morocco battles with roa ddtraffic crash even though there is nothing compared to ours.For instance 3,499 deaths were recorded in 2017, compared to 3,593 in 2016, Boulif said at a meeting of the Road Security Standing Committee held on the occasion of the National Road Safety Day.
A breakdown of the figure shows that a total of 943 people died in road accidents in urban areas in 2017 recording a 4.17% year-on-year decrease, against 2,556 deaths outside urban areas (-2.03%). A total of 89,998 traffic accidents were reported in 2017, a 9.99% rise compared with 2016, he pointed out, adding that the number of fatal traffic accidents has reached 3,085 in 2017 (-2.47%). In 2017, some 9,175 people were seriously injured in road accidents, recording a 2.51% year-on-year increase, adding that the number of light injuries stood at 119,138 (+ 9%).