7 January 2013

Nigeria: Too Many Road Accidents, Air Crashes


An international survey shows that Nigeria has the second highest rate of road accidents in the world. One hundred and sixty-two out of every 100,000 people perish every year as a result of road accidents. Indeed, one day alone - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - proves that the survey conducted in 193 countries is right on Nigeria: more than 40 people died in ghastly motor accidents across the country.

In the aviation sector, Nigeria also has an abysmal record. Last year alone, five air crashes occurred: On March 14, there was a helicopter crash in Jos that killed 4 people including John Haruna, a DIG of police. On June 2, a Nigerian cargo plane crashed in Accra, Ghana; 10 people died. The following day, June 3, a Dana Air plane crashed in Lagos: 153 passengers and crew as well as a dozen others on the ground perished. On October 25, a Cessna airplane crashed in Yola - it was being flown by the governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai, who is still in a German hospital. Yet again on December 15, an Augusta navy helicopter crashed in Bayelsa State: six people including the governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, and former national security adviser Gen. Andrew Azazi died. Although there are no official statistics on aviation mishap available, few countries in the world can match this ominous record.

We as a nation cannot continue to fold our hands and watch as we gradually slide into an abyss. There is a need to ensure that all the air safety mechanisms the government put in place are working. All federal agencies that have oversight responsibility in both civil and military aviation should be held accountable whenever an accident occurs. All those found wanting should be prosecuted. On road accidents, we have several security agencies apparently working round the clock to ensure safety on our roads. Most of them don't seem to work, and Nigerian road users are probably the most reckless in the world. Many do not know traffic laws, and those that do fail to obey them. Bus, truck and private drivers drive at supersonic speed on dangerous roads and the end result is usually tragic.

The federal government has an obligation to educate all road users: speed limits must be followed and passenger regulation should be observed. All road signs must be obeyed. The Federal Road Safety Commission, Vehicle Inspection Officers and the Nigerian police are simply not doing enough. We must think to adopt a system that works in other countries and private citizens should equally be involved by alerting security agencies when a traffic offence is committed. Dangerous driving, overloading in buses or taxis and other traffic violations should be reported at the nearest checkpoint [where they exist]. Those in the aviation industry should ensure that planes are airworthy and safe before any flight. Prevention of accidents is a collective responsibility.

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