21 September 2016

Nigeria's Roads of Death - 15 People Killed Daily

Photo: Premium Times
Road accident.

An average of 15 people died daily in road accidents across Nigeria in 2015, official statistics show.

The report by the Federal Road Safety Corps show that 5,440 Nigerians lost their lives in road accidents across the country in 2015.

The figures revealed a reduction of 1,010 from the 6,450 in 2013.

The report also found that a total of 30,478 Nigerians sustained varied degrees of injury, marking an improvement of 9,579 over the 40,057 recorded in 2013.

The latest data come at a time when the FRSC is intensifying enforcement of road traffic rules and enforcing standards of automobile peripherals.

The Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, credited improved training and equipment of traffic officers across the country for the improvement.

Mr. Oyeyemi said he remained optimistic that the speed-limiting devices in commercial vehicles would drastically reduce crashes on Nigerian roads when it is eventually introduced on October 1.

WORST AFFECTED STATES

The report showed that Kaduna State had the highest number of road traffic deaths with 474 confirmed cases.

The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, suffered 328 deaths due to road accidents while Kogi State came third with a total of 310 losses.

Borno, Taraba and Bayelsa States recorded the least number of deaths with 2, 14 and 16, respectively.

In the breakdown of injured motorists for 2015, Abuja also featured prominently, recording up to 2820 cases. Nasarawa came second with 2069 injuries while Kaduna resurfaced at number three with 2025 injured persons.

With a reported 55 cases, Borno State again recorded the lowest number of injured persons in 2015. Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States came second and third, where the commission said it recorded 95 and 130 cases, respectively.

The FRSC has attributed the crashes chiefly to over-speeding, and said it would not back down on the October 1 deadline for the enforcement of the devices in commercial vehicles.

"We already have the portal that we will use to monitor this, we don't need to pursue any vehicle, we will just stop you like we verify licence," Mr. Oyeyemi said.

"On the tablet we will check whether your vehicle has been installed with the device, if it has not, we will impound the vehicle and we make sure that you do the right thing," he added of the device whose enforcement is expected to commence with commercial vehicles before private vehicles.

PREMIUM TIMES findings, however, showed that there are other critical factors responsible for road accidents which cannot be addressed by simply installing speed-limiting devices in automobiles.

Human, mechanical and environmental factors play respective roles in the road safety matters.

Human factors include visual acuteness, driver fatigue, poor knowledge of road signs and regulations, illiteracy, drugs and alcohol abuse, negligence and over-confidence.

Among the mechanical factors that lead to fatal car accidents are poor vehicle maintenance, tyre blowouts, poor lighting, and un-roadworthy vehicles.

The environmental factors are the heavy rainfall, winds, sun reflection, potholes. Some of the environmental factors are down to the government negligence of these issues.

PREMIUM TIMES further found that there are political and economic contexts to poor traffic management in the country.

POLITICAL CONTEXT

Party activities, governance, budgetary allocations, contract evaluation, amongst others, have a direct impact on the rate at which accidents occur.

The attempts of government ministries and parastatals to reduce the number of accidents have usually been frustrated by poor funding.

The Federal Ministry of Works and the FRSC also suffer from budgetary constraints, leading to insufficient resources and untimely acquisition of safety equipment.

Furthermore, the speed and indiscriminate use of sirens by political public office holders, including governors and their convoys, have caused several road accidents in Nigeria.

In March 2016, the Minister of State for Labour, James Ocholi, and his family died in a road accident along Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

A few days later, the FRSC released a preliminary report on the crash which found that the driver was excessively speeding with a poorly maintained vehicle. The FRSC also said the convoy driver did not even have a valid driver's license. This may have been the accident to gain popularity due to the severity and the casualties. But it is not the first time politicians' convoys would be involved in an accident.

Godswill Akpabio, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, had a non-fatal accident. Witnesses said the convoy ran a red light.

In Katsina in 2011, the ADC to State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, and four others died in a road accident involving the governor's convoy.

But the FRSC said things could have been worse, although the agency agreed there are rooms for improvement.

"We have 15 governors who have embedded marshals in their convoys and we're looking to expand that policy to all states," the FRSC spokesperson, Bisi Kazeem, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Kazeem said the commission frequently penalises top government functionaries whose convoys violate traffic rules.

"The fact that we don't always stop them on the road to enforce their infractions does not mean we don't issue them tickets," Mr. Kazeem said. But we're making improvement.

ECONOMIC CONTEXT

The restrictive nature of the waterways, the pitiful condition of the rail system and the inability of an average Nigerian to afford the high cost of air travel have made road transportation preferable.

In 2010, about 80 per cent of the freight movements across Nigeria were via road transport.

The over-dependence on road usage could put pressure on roads, motorists.

The FRSC said Nigeria has an average of approximately 5,000 tankers involved in wet cargo haulage, moving about 150 million litres of fuel on her roads daily.

The country also has over 2,500 trucks on her roads daily. However, no comprehensive roadmap exists to address the excessive road travels although the federal government has intensified efforts at constructing adequate rail lines.

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