With the recently released data by Federal Bureau of Statistics detailing the number of road accidents in the fourth quarter of 2018, what readily comes to mind is the reason for the upsurge in the figure of road mishap recorded during the period under review.What this connotes is that the number of deaths traceable to road accidents is increasing on annual basis despite the campaigns and traffic laws’ enforcement activities of the Federal Road Safety Corps.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)was apt in its report that out of 2,532 accidents recorded,not fewer than 1,538 people died in the fourth quarter of 2018 alone.What the staggering figure portends is that our roads are not saved either as a result of poor conditions of the roads or reckless driving by private car owners and commercial drivers particularly on the highways.
One other point of attraction according to the National Bureau of Statistics’ report is that 92 per cent(1,422) of the 1,538 people that died were adults, while the remaining eight per cent (116 people) were toddlers.What this implies is that adults engage in risky ventures than the children.Adults by virtue of freedom they enjoy and social demands,they are always in hurry or jostling to hit targets using every available opportunity thereby exposing themselves to a lot of risks and health challenges.
In terms of gender, the report revealed that 79 per cent (1,209) of the total deaths were males, while 21 per cent (329) were females.Of equal importance is the fact that more men were found to loose their lives to road accidents compared to women probably as a result of high family demands that often hang on men’s necks being family heads.
Apart from those that lost their lives during the period to road accidents,there were 8,406 other Nigerians that didn’t die instantly but who have become either maimed or injured through road accidents.Some of those that become maimed or suffer permanent disability in the process are not limited to persons suffering from spinal cord injuries, autopeadic laceration, mental damage or other infirmities which have turned many of them to dependents.
In a related development,Barrister Raji Fasola, the Honourable Minister for Works,Power and Housing at a public forum recently also lent his voice to the raging issue of road accidents where he attributed the persistent inrease in deaths by road accidents to dangerous driving and wrongful over taking. Instead of admitting that there is truly a connectivity between incessant road accidents and evil machinations of poor road conditions,he tend to be pretentious. What can be deduced from the Minister’s submission and public declaration was a case of down playing the calamitous contributions of poor road conditions to the persistent increase in road accidents in the urban centres and highways.
Somehow,the pronouncement of the Honourable Minister concidentally corroborates the Bureau’s statistical analysis which states that speed violation accounted for 52 per cent of the total accidents recorded in the year under review.Whatever might be the reason for the pronouncement of the Minister,I insist that poor conditions of our roads were parts of the causative agents.
While I agree that there are truly inherent dangers in either dangerous driving, over speeding or wrongful over taking;yet,we should not pretend that we are not aware that several roads in Nigeria could best be described as death traps. Without over speeding, people can still have accidents on some of the nation’s bad roads.Across the various states,the are still roads whose conditions are not only disgusting,but they are equally neauseating.
Now that Nigerians have decided to move to the next level with the re-election of President Muhammed Buhari,I think the issue of deaths by road accidents should attract more attention.
What the road accidents statistics portends for the nation is the need to raise the tempo of public awareness by introducing the necessary measures in order to guarantee good road maintenance culture and rightful inculcation of habit of safety precautions on highways.
Fifty nine years after the country’s independence,we are still not getting it right despite the annual collosal budgetary allocation to road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance.
Given the performance of the FRSC in the recent past against the backdrop of its core mandate areas, the agency’s rating is abysmally low giving the number of deaths recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018 alone.It is unfortunate that the agency has allowed itself to have become tainted and stigmatized as next to the police in terms of corruption perception.If not that the agency has deviated and somehow lost focus by tolerating the antics of its corrupt officers,it ought to have been free from allegations of extortion of the motorists just like police do.
Of course, the agency by law establishing it and the quality of training provided for its personnel,it is well positioned to successfully checkmate high rates of accidents on the highways.
Unlike in the past when the FRSC were respected for its credibility and integrity of its men, the public perception today is that the agency is now peopled by officers that are desperate to always coerce from lean purses of the motorists.The pernnicious devils among the corps have destroyed the goodwill and reputation built by the agency when it was first established.
Without mincing words,I am sure that the rates of accidents on the Nigerian roads will reduce,If FRSC can be truly alive to its responsibilities on the highways.No efforts should be spared to wipe the agency off the bad eggs.It is high time the necessary cleansing is done to put an end to illegal toll collection by Corps on the highways.
Frankly, the Federal Roads Safety Corps have the wherewithal to properly monitor and organize safety awareness campaigns for private car owners and commercial drivers.If there is the need to enforce road safety laws or impose sanctions,it must be seen to have been done without fear or favour.Apart from the need to focus more on value re-orientation for the Corps, the ills which are currently afflicting the agency is better addressed with increase in funding, emphasis on discipline and opportunities for continuous training for officers of the agency.So, the dilemma which the persistent increase in the road accidents causes the nation annually can be drastically reduced with a more disciplined, competent and well trained personnel of the Federal Roads Safety Corps.
By: Rahaman Onike
Public affairs analyst writes from Oyo,Oyo State.