RISING DEATH TOLL ON THE ROADS

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As the Yuletide draws closer, relevant agencies should do more to minimise road crashes

Driving on Nigerian roads has become so risky that in every four hours no fewer than two lives are lost. Nigeria is estimated to have a total road network of 200,183 kilometres out of which four per cent are considered to be critical corridors owing to the role they play in connecting the country’s geopolitical zones. But to travel through most of them is a hazardous experience because of utter neglect. This neglect has placed Nigeria in the unenviable league of countries with very high cases of road fatalities. It is time the regulatory authorities charged with ensuring the safety of road users dealt with the situation to keep our people safe on the roads.

Given that we are in the middle of the ‘ember’ months, when many of the accidents tend to happen, there is need to remind all drivers to be cautious of the deplorable conditions of many of the highways across the country. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has for instance disclosed that road accidents killed 275 people in the north-east zone between April and September this year while others sustained varying degrees of injuries. The figures made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicated no fewer than 1,538 Nigerians died in road accidents in the fourth quarter of last year. If we are to stop such carnage on our roads, we must begin to hold critical stakeholders in the transport sector accountable.

Based on the NBS data, we are convinced that the main causes of road crashes are not impossible to overcome. Chief among them is over-speeding or violation of speed limits, which is essentially an attitudinal issue which can be dealt with by stepping up regulations against speed limit violation. The other two which are tyre burst and dangerous driving are equally surmountable using regulations which the FRSC, Vehicle Inspection Offices (VIOs) in the states and Police traffic departments can enforce and get people to abide by without compromise.

Drivers of long vehicles are critical stakeholders in the logistics chain process in the country. In as much as their primacy in the product distribution chain is acknowledged, they must render their services carefully and within the ambit of traffic rules and regulations in order not to imperil the lives of others. Some of these people have become so notorious that their indiscriminate action has put others at risk, informed by arbitrary consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants. The onus is on the FRSC to ensure drivers comply with speed limit and always put their vehicles in good condition. They should curb offences such as light violation and the use of phones while driving.

Road travels have become a tortuous experience for Nigerians as many portions of the road are ridden with potholes. It is therefore no surprise that the mess which has become of the country’s roads would in some ways contribute to the crashes experienced on them, especially when motorists continuously meander through large portions of crumbled highway, trying to avoid potholes and dilapidated portions, and thus increasing risks of accidents.

We call on all the relevant agencies of the government to stay awake to their responsibilities. Besides, as the Yuletide draws nearer, necessitating mass movement of people and vehicular traffic, the FRSC and other relevant agencies must step up their game to ensure the safety of road users in all parts of the country.