Before The Rains Begin

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

On Tuesday, 15 February 2022, I had the honour to represent the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi at the Public Presentation of the 2022 Seasonal Climate Predictions held at the serene Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Centre, Kado, Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. It was my first and I owe all the gratitude to my boss for directing me to attend. The theme was; Strengthening Climate Actions Through Timely and Impact-Based Climate Prediction for Economic Recovery. In attendance were top functionaries, from government to private sector, as well as the academia.

I left the venue enriched through speeches, as well as publications shared by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET). What I saw was an Agency that has transformed its service delivery away from the foolish jokes of some people some years back. During my University days, the joke was that whenever the daily weather predictions on Nigerian Television Authority informs you that it won’t rain, you had better take along your umbrella, raincoat and rain boots, as well as a sweater to protect yourself. I was therefore excited that my first official contact with the Agency exposed me and other guests to the revolutionary impact of the current leadership at the Agency.

Let me today share with you some of these materials as they affect safe driving, especially during the rainy season.

Permit me to refer you to the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction where the Agency captured predictions for the current year. According to the Agency’s predictions, the 2022 rainfall season is likely to be normal in terms of rainfall amount and length. Storms, it warned, are expected to be strong during the season because of the predicted higher-than normal temperatures in most parts of the country.

These predictions according to the Agency have implications for road users as strong storms can pull down trees, communication masts, electric power cables and poles, and other structures. These could obstruct roads and disrupt traffic. Chances of road washouts, slippery roads, delayed travel time, cars skidding off the road are likely during the season. Reduced visibility during the harmattan and stormy weather should be anticipated. The predicted warmer temperatures will also mean hotter roads and increased chances of tyre burst.

It further notes that rainfall dates are predicted to start from the coastal states of Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom in late February and around July in the northern states such as Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara. However, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo and Kaduna states are anticipated to experience earlier than normal onset when compared to the long term averages. Furthermore, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano Jigawa, parts of Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo Ogun, Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers states are likely to experience delayed onset of rainfall.

For the doubting Thomas, the Agency warns that the predicted rainfall amount over the country is expected to be near the long term average rainfall ranging from 400mm to 800mm in the northern states such as Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, and parts of Borno. The central states, such as Nasarrawa,Taraba, Kogi, Benue as well as Ekiti, Osun and Oyo in the Southwest, and the FCT are likely to have 1200mm to 1600mm. Parts of Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Cross River states are predicted to have annual rainfall amounts of 3000mm and above.

NiMET went on to reel out advisory to road users, FRSC, transport operators, as well as anticipated collaborative activities to drum home road hazards due to bad weather. Government should ensure that highways roads and bridges are repaired and where necessary reinforced before the onset of the rainy season. Lastly, road users should strictly comply with speed limits and other highway traffic regulations, especially during heavy rainfall. The advisory had tips for aviation, water resources management, disaster risk management, and health, agriculture, as well as food security among others.

I do not know if you understand all the turenchi of long term average and all. All I can deduce is that there will be rainfall and depending on where you reside, it might be heavy and portends certain avoidable dangers as enumerated in the advisory which I listed earlier. Following this, I believe like a proactive Boys Scout there is need for us to put some necessary things in place to avoid becoming another casualty.

The first focus is to ensure that you achieve total compliance with the provisions of the National Road Traffic Regulations with respect to the sections that dwell on self-regulations. With the avalanche of learners who daily flout road safety rules, the Regulations provide that you drive only with a learner’s permit. It forbids you to carry any passenger except a licensed driver or certified instructor licensed to drive the category of vehicle and this licensed driver or instructor must sit at the passenger’s seat.

Emphatically, the Regulations demand that an applicant for a driver’s license who must not be below 18 years must obtain a medical certificate of fitness as provided in  Regulation 57(3) of the Regulations from any Government Hospital. So, what exactly does this regulation mean by a medical certificate of fitness? As a layman, a medical fitness certificate is a document issued by a registered medical practitioner that attests that an individual is fit  after a medical examination. Usually, medical fitness certificates are required for many purposes, including driving which is my focus. During the height of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it was mandatory to have a requirement through what was then known as  ‘’Fit to fly’’ certificate. Strangely, because of the dread for COVID, nobody toyed with it unlike driving where applicants fake such documents without the necessary rigours of the test.