CONVOY DRIVERS AND ROAD SAFETY
The FRSC should subject convoy drivers to the same standard
No fewer than four persons died on the spot following a ghastly accident involving a Toyota Hilux conveying a detachment of vigilantes, accompanying Governor Adamu Fintiri of Adamawa State, last Thursday. The accident was reportedly caused by over-speeding by one of the vehicles in the convoy in the process of negotiating a dangerous bend. While we commiserate with the families of the deceased and wish speedy recovery for the injured, we must stress that this is a recurring tragedy in Nigeria that the authorities must deal with. Given the frequency of this menace, many Nigerians have been left to wonder whether there is a bug that bites these drivers once they sit behind the steering wheel of hugely tinted black jeeps and sedans which make them drive as if on ‘Formula One’ car race.
Globally, thousands of people die daily because of over-speeding, which accounts for most of all road accidents. What compounds the problem in Nigeria is that the convoys of public officials and other ‘big men’ do not obey traffic rules. That then explains why accidents involving them are almost always fatal. Having created and sustained this culture of impunity, it no longer matters whether these convoys carry any high-profile official, they just terrorise other road users for fun. Besides, in a status-obsessed society, it is not only public officials who drive in convoys, politicians, businessmen, clerics, musicians, and just about anybody with enough cash to buy many vehicles, including Hilux, and could pay to hire security personnel, also do.
For years, many Nigerians have been at the mercy of these killer-drivers whose daredevilry on the road have claimed the lives of numerous innocent citizens. These drivers have no regard for traffic rules and regulations and under the cover of presumed ‘official immunity’ from arrest and prosecution, they have become laws unto themselves and no one, not even men of the FRSC dare stop them. The way they go about terrorising other road users had always left the public wondering whether these drivers were under instruction from their bosses to break the rules of civilised conduct, especially whenever they are late in keeping appointments. Yet there should be no excuse to unleash reckless assassins on other road users just because they are not disciplined enough to keep to time.
The statistics of the carnage on Nigerian roads caused by the impunity and recklessness often exhibited by convoy drivers is mind-boggling. There had been several accidents involving convoys of president, governors, deputy governors and their spouses. Perhaps the worst incident in recent memory was that of then Edo State Governor, Oserheimen Osunbor along the Lokoja-Abuja express road in 2007 which claimed 12 lives on the spot. It is important for the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to step in on the recklessness of convoy drivers who pose serious dangers not only to other road users but also to the society at large. That many of these vehicles do not carry any plate number compounds the challenge which speaks to lawlessness in the country. Now that private citizens have joined this inglorious club, we enjoin all road traffic management officials to be more alive to their responsibilities.
Meanwhile, we would like to advise government officials, at all levels, to help curb the antics of their drivers by ensuring that they depart in good time whenever they have an engagement to attend. They should also inform these drivers on the implications of harassing the very taxpayers whose money was used to purchase the vehicles and to pay the drivers salaries. It is about time we put an end to this executive recklessness on our roads.