By Fidelis Nnadi
Road safety in Nigeria has assumed a worrisome dimension and the nation is always listed among countries with high road crashes. Hardly a single day goes by in Nigeria without at least one or two road accidents recorded.
This alarming rate of road traffic accidents may have informed the decision of the federal government to establish the Federal Road Safety Corps in 1988. The statutory functions include: Making the highways safe for motorists and other road users as well recommending works and infrastructures to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways and educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of road discipline on the highways. Similarly, the Governors of States/FCT are responsible for the establishment and equipping of their respective Vehicle Inspection and road traffic agency to compliment the efforts of the Federal Corps on highways.
It is saddening that many state governors have not responded adequately to the escalating road crash deaths and injuries as it is obvious that they have neglected their responsibility to equip their respective VIO/Traffic agency that will enforce safety of vehicles and persons using state roads, despite the bloodshed as a result of avoidable road traffic accidents.
Each year, we are inundated by upwards scary statistics showing volume of road safety abuses by road users while the capacity to conduct consistent enlightenment is lacking due to financial inadequacy.
A first time visitor to Nigeria would assume that the road transport sector, among other land base logistics services, is not regulated. Overloading, over speeding and other traffic rules are flagrantly abused with reckless impunity.
Vehicles designated for purposes other than public transport, operate within bounds in organized climes because the law enforcement component is functional.
On the contrary, you see vehicles clearly marked “Goods Only”, on Nigerian highways, conveying passengers from one destination to the other.
Operators of such articulated vehicles are not conversant with highway codes and other elementary rudiments of their trade. To them, it is normal to load their trucks with goods above capacity; and afterwards add passengers on top of the ware.
Those who should demand accountability such as the federal ministry of transportation chooses to abandon their responsibilities may be because the rich and the mighty in our society seldom ply our major highways.
Any time there is an air mishap in the country, heads usually roll. In addition, the authorities would declare days of national mourning. To avert further mishap, the President will announce a lot of measures in addition to hiring and firing.
However, whenever there is a major road accident everybody including those in authority behaves as if nothing happened yet the country is losing her most productive population to avoidable carnages. We cannot grow with this heinous abdication of responsibilities.
Where is the humanity in us? It is time for government to wake up from slumber and enforce regulations aimed at tackling road traffic accidents in Nigeria.
Prince Fidelis Nnadi is the Executive Director Accident Prevention and Rescue Initiative and lives in Abuja. You can email him via firstname.lastname@example.org