FRSC: Preventing Avoidable Deaths on Nigerian Roads

Kasim Sumaina

Dver the years, precious lives have been cut short due to no fault of theirs and many dreams shattered as a result of overloading and over speeding.

Families have had cause to bury their love ones when least expected after hugs, kisses and goodbyes in various motor parks across the country.

Sometimes, many lives are lost through accident as a result of reckless overloading and over speeding by drivers across the highway. Over-speeding and overloading are important risk factors for road traffic accidents and every year many people die as a result of road traffic crashes in Nigeria.

Owing to this unfortunate occurrences, the Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dauda Ali Biu, recently directed Commanding Officers to commence patrol operations, as well as organise adequate Mobile Court operations along critical corridors.

The Corps Marshal urged the commanders to go after trailers loaded with human beings and animals plying highways due to the increasing rates of road crashes involving over loaded trailers and lorries.

He said analysis revealed that vehicles carrying animals, goods and people, interstate buses and mass transit systems remain significant contributors to road accidents and fatalities.

According to him, addressing these specific categories of vehicles required targeted interventions and a multifaceted approach. He added: “The issue of non-adherence to traffic lights, particularly in the nation’s capital is a cause for concern. Such blatant disregard for traffic regulations not only endangers lives but also undermines the credibility of our enforcement efforts. “We must redouble our efforts to ensure strict enforcement of traffic laws and hold violators accountable for their actions.” THISDAY findings revealed that scores of lives have been lost in recent months. For instance, the emergency rescue teams of the Corps endured another over three hours of inferno in its bid to rescue road traffic victims at the scene of a fatal crash that claimed 19 lives on 28 April, 2024, at Okene bypass, on the Okene-Lokoja highway in Kogi State.

The collision resulted in a fire inferno that burnt the victims to death. The report, also revealed that the crash which was caused by route violation ‘One Way’ and wrongful overtaking, involved 22 people all male.

Unfortunately, 19 people out of the 22 victims were killed and one injured. The remaining two victims who got rescued by FRSC operatives without injuries survived the crash because they complied with traffic regulations on compulsory use of seatbelt.

Additionally, it was gathered that 87 persons died from road accidents in just one month as a result of overloading, over speeding, reckless driving and loading animals with passengers. Biu, who disclosed this in his monthly routine analysis stated: “Between December 15, 2023 and January 15, 2024, road crashes, also referred to as road accidents, claimed the lives of 335 persons.”

He added: “On fatalities recorded from December 15, 2023, to January, 15, 2024, the corps recorded a total of 335 deaths nationwide as against 350 recorded in the same period in 2022. This represents four per cent reduction.”

According to him, between December, 15, 2023 and January 15, 2024, which marked the period of the special patrol operations, a total of 634 road traffic crashes took place nationwide, as against 535 in the same period in 2022 representing 19 per cent increase.

The 2023 crashes involved 4709 people, as against the 4162 recorded in 2022 signifying 13 per cent increase.

“Meanwhile, the total number of people injured increased by 17 per cent as the corps has a record of 2,055 people injured in 2023 against 1762 in the same period in 2022. “Also, the corps rescued a total of 2,319 persons in 2023 signifying 13 per cent increase when compared to a total of 2,050 recorded in 2022. “Between March 31 and April 30, we lost 87 people. They were all burnt behind recognition as a result of vehicles carrying fuel and exploding when the accidents happened.

Some of these incidents happened in Obajana, where we lost 13 on March 31. At Ogbomosho, we lost 19 people on April 14 in yet another raid crash involving buses.”

He further said, “In Kano, we lost 11 on April 19, the following day, April 20, we lost eight persons in Otukpo, Benue State. While on April 30, in Nsukka, we lost 17 persons again. All burnt beyond recognition.

“We were battling with the news of the April 28, when we got the report of April 30 that another 17 persons have died. I can tell you that I couldn’t sleep that night. All these accidents happened with buses carrying fuel.”

The Corp Marshal explained that major road crashes and deaths in 2024, showed that in an instant in January, 16 people were killed when a commercial bus lost control and plunged into a ditch on the Kano-Kaduna expressway, as a result of over speeding, resulting to loss of control of the vehicle by the driver.

The report also showed that on January 19, at least 10 people were killed and 12 others injured when a bus and a car recently rammed into each other in Nigeria’s northern state of Jigawa.

The incident, according to reports was caused by wrongful overtaking due to the flouting of traffic rules which caused the two vehicles to collide head-on. The vehicles immediately went aflame and burned beyond recognition, wreaking more havoc.” “Also, due to speeding and reckless driving, on January 2, six persons lost their lives while 11 sustained injuries in a multiple road crash at Aliko Filling Station on the Kaduna-Zaria expressway. “On January 10, three persons died, and three others were injured in a road accident that occurred on the Enugu-Abakaliki expressway, in Ebonyi State.

The corps marshal, while speaking on preventive measures to curtail these incidents, said: “We investigated and discovered that these buses carry fuel while traveling because they claim there is fuel scarcity and some others claim they prices of fuel are cheaper in some areas than another.

“To address this, we have started searching all vehicles and anyone with fuel, we remove it and make sure they don’t travel with it. In the last one month ago that we started this operations, out of 100 vehicles, all of them were carrying gallons of fuel in the vehicle. “We will also continue to pursue this prosecution. Unlike the misconception people have that we are out to get fine. No, Road Safety is not established to make fines, rather, we were established to save lives and properties. It is not a revenue generating organisation for the federal government.

“Our idea now is that instead of asking you to go and pay the paltry sum some of money as fines, we have decided to prosecute serious offenders and work with the court to get them to pay the maximum fines, which may be jail term or large sum of money as fines.

“We are also taking our messages to the grassroots and calling on the media to also help us disseminate information that would educate the members of the public on the dangers of overloading ans over speeding.”

On plans for reducing crashes and possibly deaths from road crashes this year, the corps marshal said the management of the FRSC has set target of reducing the percentage of road crashes as accidents have already started from December 2023 into January 2024.

Biu, while highlighting the focus for the year 2024, noted: “Moving forward, we must prioritise the enforcement of speed-related offenses such as the installation of Speed-Limiting Devices, and implement homegrown initiatives to address the root causes of road accidents. Collaborating with the judiciary in our operational efforts and engaging with the stakeholders.

“Furthermore, we must address the perception of overzealous and incivility towards members of the general public.

“Our interactions with motorists and pedestrians should be characterised by professionalism and respect which should be seen around the purpose of humanity and empathy,” he said.

Related Articles