Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Road Traffic Accidents In Nigeria

The way in which deaths caused by road accidents are treated in Nigeria, confirms that the government has not regard for human lives. It is disturbing that to know that human lives are treated purely as ‘statistics’. I’m yet to see any genuine attempt by the government to reduce the number of road accidents fatalities.

The Corp Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps Mr Osita Chidoka noted during a media briefing that 5,157 lives were lost through road accidents in Nigeria in the last three years. According to the statistical breakdown, out of a total of 18,308 accidents reported, 5,157 deaths were recorded, while a total number of 13,251 persons sustained different forms of injuries. He further noted that 2,119 accidents and 301 deaths were as a result of tanker drivers/road haulage trucks between January and March 2009. For me, these are depressing results. It is an indictment of government ineptitude. On the average, it means 23 daily accidents and daily loss of 3 lives between January and March. It will be interesting to know how the number of accidents and fatalities measure against the number of registered haulage trucks and average kilometre travelled.

In the build up to major national holidays, it is now a common occurrence for the Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to brief the media on road fatality statistics. Honestly, I do not understand the aim and purpose of such press briefings, without effective follow-up actions. The number of road deaths has also been increasing exponentially for the last few decades. The first question is, where did the Corps Marshall obtain his data? Secondly, are these press briefings meant to be awareness campaign?

The Corp Marshall also noted at the press briefing that the commission has mapped out strategies to regulate the operations of motorists in order to forestall unnecessary loss of lives and property on the roads as part of the Easter holidays preparation. I’m also aware that the commission has purchased additional 24 ambulances to ensure effective patrol of the highways to guarantee compliance to traffic codes. But really, are these things not just the right thing to do in all circumstances? Is it only when we are approaching a festive period that the FRSC should be mapping out strategy and investing in traffic reduction measures? For goodness sake, people die everyday on the national highway and not just during festive periods.

I want to believe that the causes of road accidents are not just human error or driver negligence. Our highways are arguably one of the most dangerous in the world. The road infrastructure in Nigeria has suffered from decades of neglect. The lack of planning and regulation of accesses has also undermined the function of our strategic highways. Allowing direct access onto a major highway such as Lagos-Benin Expressway by religious organisations smacks in the face. From north to south, east to west, the federal highways have become death traps. Hoodlums have now taken advantage of the perpetual government negligence in the discharge of its statutory functions. Innocent lives have lost through robbery attacks on the highway. Every year, we only hear about of billions of naira spent on road rehabilitation. It was learnt that a former Minister put up a comedy show at the Lagos-Benin Expressway. She broken into tears(!), after witnessing the state of the Expressway. But the question remains, what actions did she take after that visit? None!

It is common knowledge that many of road accidents are caused by haulage trucks. The failure of our rail system has contributed immensely to the proliferation of haulage trucks. I’m sure Nigeria will rank as highest on the list of countries with largest number of haulage trucks per capita. It is not just the ownership of haulage trucks that is the problem, but most of these trucks are not in anyway ‘road worthy’.

The menace of road traffic accidents should call into question, the role FRSC and Federal Ministry of Transport. .It is unacceptable that so many lives should be wasted unnecessarily on account of avoidable accidents on our roads. I even doubt very much if the figures quoted by the Corps Marshall reflect the total human loss to accidents in the country.

The Nigerian public expects more than annual press briefings on numbers of road fatalities. The FRSC and Ministry of Transport need to develop clear actions and strategies. Road traffic accidents reduction actions and strategies should be iterative and dynamic process and, not just dependent of holidays or festivities. Reduction of traffic accidents demands more than 24 ambulances. The FRSC should be setting annual traffic reduction targets. This is the only way; the effectiveness of its performance can be measured.

The main objective of setting up the FRSC in 1988 was to minimize road traffic accidents. Part 11, Section 11 of the FRSC Act clearly spells out the functions of the agency. In addition to minimising road accidents, the FRSC is charged with the responsibility of conducting research and collecting statistics on road traffic accidents. However, how can any informative research be undertaken in the absence of reliable data? A visit to the FRSC website further illustrates this problem. Agencies task with collection and analysis of national statistical data have always been non-performing. The creation of the Bureau of National Statistics to replace the old Federal Office of Statistics has not yielded any meaningful results.

Finally, the ownership and use of heavy duty vehicles is also in need of better regulation. Heavy duty vehicles should be required to meet minimum safety standards. The safety regulation of heavy duty vehicles should not be undertaken by the FRSC. I have always called for the need for a 'Traffic Commissioner', who should be responsible for licensing and safety regulation of heavy duty and public carriage vehicles.


John said...

It seems that Nigerian government is not implementing the road traffic safety rules seriously which will make driver become aware of it further. Nowadays, it has become a common to find your self in a road accident. Since there are more and more inexperienced drivers on road, it is obvious to deal with some sort of accident, minor or major. However, it doesn't matter if you undergo a minor accident or a major one, you will end up paying a lot as hospital bills. In this situation, it is a good idea to call in a professional personal injury lawyer to file a personal injury claim. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you will be able to make other party pay for all your healthcare charges. This is something that will help you stay away from facing any financial problem. Here, it is crucial to mention that there are many things that you need to understand about car accidents. For more information visit Road Accident Claim .

Road Traffic Accident said...

saw your blog and very interesting information is available on it. and your guidelines are very important and useful

john bravon said...

Driving time safety is very important because accidents are create of the unsafety. Road is very danger place for human life. It is one mistake than create biggest accident for human lives.

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civil litigation solicitors burnley said...

Good article and interesting to hear of the views of taxi drivers and the like.

personal Injury solicitors said...

Great post - Very informative. Thank you!