FG: Road Accidents now Killing more Nigerians than HIV, TB

Gbemisola Saraki

* Proposes truck transit parks in 8 states

By Emmanuel Addeh

The federal government Thursday lamented the frequency of carnages caused by road accidents in the country, noting that deaths resulting from crashes have now exceeded the ones caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV) and the deadly tuberculosis combined.

Against the backdrop of the crash that claimed scores of lives in Kogi State on Wednesday, the government said that many of the losses were caused by avoidable human errors.

Speaking during a workshop on ‘Truck Renewal Policy’ in Abuja, the Minister of State, Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, stressed that the spate of accidents involving trucks across the country, leading to loss of lives and properties, was becoming worrisome.

The programme, with the theme “Truck Renewal System, Ensuring Road Transport Safety”, was organised by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

It was put together to discuss fleet renewal, which stakeholders said will ensure the replacement of trucks in the fleet of transporters that do not meet the safety requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

“Interestingly, most of these accidents are caused by human factors such as use of cell phones while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or dangerous substance, disregard for road signage, dangerous driving/overtaking, overspending, overloading and use of trucks that ought to be off the road.

“These crashes can be avoided if drivers are disciplined enough while on the road. It might shock you to know that road crashes are a serious ‘epidemic’ in Nigeria that produces more deaths than HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) put together annually,” she said.

Saraki, who was represented by the Assistant Director, Mass Transit in the ministry, Angela Keyede, noted that through the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), under a public/private partnership arrangement, some locations had been identified for truck transit parks in the country.

She listed the proposed locations as Lokoja in Kogi State, Obollo-Afor in Enugu, Illela in Sokoto, Ogere in Ogun, Mararaba in Kaduna, Jibiya in Katsina, Ore in Ondo and Aviele in Edo State.

She assured the participants that President Muhammadu Buhari is poised to address some of the safety challenges facing the transport sector in order to save lives and maintain sanity by building and expanding more roads.

“Also, in order to lessen the pressure on federal roads, the government is reviving the railway system as well as investing heavily on the light rail system.

“However, the replacement of old sub-standard trucks with modern trucks equipped with safety devices for the transportation of petroleum products is an alternative that must be followed by road transport unions and associations,” she added.

According to her, the framework that will enable the replacement of old substandard trucks equipped with safety devices required for today’s safe transportation is also being considered.

In his remarks, the Chairman, MOMAN, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said the essence of the conference was to bring all major stakeholders in the transportation of petroleum products in the downstream to discuss a framework that will ensure safety of lives and properties in the transportation value chain.

“All over the world, the transportation of petroleum product is carried out by pipelines, rails and road. Movement of product by pipeline is considered the most efficient and safest compared to rail and road.

“The pipeline system which were used in the early 1990s in Nigeria had to be discontinued due to integrity issues on the pipeline which made road transportation become the major means of petroleum transportation in today’s Nigeria.

“With about 10,000 trucks involved all over the country, hauling products majorly from the south to the north, about 80 per cent of these trucks do not have anti-skid.

“They also do not have anti-rollover, anti-spill protection, automatic braking systems, on board cameras and on-board tracking system required for safe transportation of petroleum products by road,” he said.

Other speakers during the event included the Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi; Director General, National Automotive Design and Development (NADDC) Jelani Aliyu; and President, NARTO, Mr Yusuf Othman, among others.