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Stop carnage on our roads

Recent reports of series of road accidents across the country, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians, have painted a grim picture and there…

Recent reports of series of road accidents across the country, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians, have painted a grim picture and there is no gainsaying that the nation has to do more to tame the occurrence.

This paper reported that no fewer than 295 people have died between January and March this year in road crashes across the country. According to the report, the figure, which was tallied from various reports of accidents, showed that 315 sustained various degrees of injuries during the period. The report, which covered 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory, revealed that the highest death figure was recorded in Ogun State, where 43 people died, followed by Kwara State with 28 deaths.

We are worried that the reasons for these accidents have remained the same over the years, which is an indication that not much effort has been made to address the issues.

One of the causes is the bad state of our roads. It is no news that roads across the country have been in bad shape leading to accidents as drivers try to avoid the numerous potholes on the roads. It is more unfortunate with those linking various towns within states. It is sad that our governors compete over building flyovers within their respective capitals while they leave other roads to deteriorate. Where an attempt was made, such roads are of such poor quality that they go back to their former states with the first rain.

There is also the problem of the roadworthiness of the vehicles plying our roads. Most of these vehicles, especially those used for commercial purposes, are run with worn-out tyres, faulty brakes and poor lighting, among others. The drivers succeed in defying the law because sometimes personnel of the numerous enforcement agencies deployed on our roads to enforce compliance, do not do their job. Where they show any seriousness, they are more concerned with revenue generation, rather than the state of the vehicles. Added to this is the fact that many of such drivers are not qualified, but are left to drive on our roads because of corruption. Many drivers also drive under the influence of alcohol.

Nigerians’ attitude on the road also leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, driving on our roads often requires extra care because of the poor road manners of an average driver. Many of them are impatient and do not observe the simplest of traffic rules, such as stopping at traffic lights. Majority of drivers of commercial vehicles indulge in overloading, as they are more interested in making quick returns. Some use vehicles designed for transporting goods to ferry passengers.

We, at Daily Trust, believe that the current situation needs urgent attention to stop unnecessary carnage on our roads. First, our law enforcement agencies charged with ensuring safety on our roads must be alive to their responsibilities. Both the Federal Road Safety Corps and the various directorates for road traffic services must see their role beyond that of revenue generation. If only they can devote their energy to ensuring proper licensing of drivers, roadworthiness of vehicles and enforcing traffic regulations, we would be able to reduce road crashes by a significant proportion within a short time.

Importantly, they need to redouble their efforts in enlightenment on the need to observe basic traffic rules and ensuring that vehicles plying the roads are roadworthy. This, they can do by, especially coming into cooperation with the various road unions to educate drivers.

Federal and state governments also owe Nigerians good road networks. A situation where most of our roads can easily be described as death traps should not be tolerated. We urge state governors to reduce their desire for the construction of flyovers in state capitals and instead fix the numerous roads in their domains to guarantee the safe movement of people and goods.

We also strongly call for strict application of the letter of the law on drivers who, through reckless driving, cause loss of lives. Unless we make it clear that such wanton recklessness will not be tolerated, the situation will only continue to get worse.

But more importantly, Nigerians must learn to observe simple traffic rules and respect each other while driving. Being patriotic and law-abiding citizens is the surest way of ensuring a prosperous and peaceful nation. This starts with us, Nigerians.


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