Road traffic accidents account for a high rate of fatalities across the nation especially given the exorbitant fares charged by airlines and the epileptic services offered by rail operators. In line with its mandate, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has reiterated the need for more attention to be paid on major highways and drivers that ply the routes.
One of such measures is the construction of Stop Parks for long distance journeys in what is meant to reduce the number of accidents on our roads and save lives. Corp Marshal of the Commission, Dauda Biu suggested that a driver needs at least 30 minutes rest after every four-hour journey in order to avoid becoming fatigued and has taken this campaign nationwide. Speaking in Jos at the 2022 End-of-Year Special Intervention Sensitisation Campaign for Gridlock and Crash Prone Areas, Biu advised drivers not to ignore nature.
It is natural for the body to show signs of stress after a long road trip. Therefore, the best way back to normal is to make out time to rest before continuing with the journey. This advocacy comes at no cost to the drivers as their lives are also at risk as well as those of commuters. Echoing the wise counsel of his boss, Bauchi State Sector Commander of the FRSC, Yusuf Abdullahi added that the construction of Stop Parks should be prioritised by the government. The road safety officers are dead right in their submissions. Urgent steps must be taken by the Federal Government to save lives on our roads and reduce the rate of carnage.
As the general elections approach, there will be movement by not only eligible voters from one divide to the other but perhaps even more importantly the transportation of election materials and officials by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 1,834 persons died in 3,345 road accidents between January and March 2022, that is, the First Quarter of last year. Beyond this number, 32,617 deaths were recorded from 65,053 accidents between 2016 and 2021.
Although there was a reduction in fatalities in the Second Quarter, 1,538 from 3,282 road accidents, it is disturbing that between 2013 and 2021, about 41,709 persons died. Road accidents are not peculiar to one part of the globe but the statistics from the African continent are alarming. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is concerned about this development. According to WHO, the continent has the worst rate of road traffic fatalities globally with 26.6 deaths per 100,000 people, which is almost thrice that of Europe. We join the FRSC in this battle to save lives on our highways.
Africa’s most populous nation is gradually being depopulated by strife in the form of insurgency and banditry. The harsh economic environment has not helped matters either. Avoidable death, therefore, is not an option. During festive periods, which are very regular, many drivers in the bid to make as much money as possible hardly settle down to rest before embarking on return trips, thereby endangering lives. The Stop Parks will serve a useful purpose and we advise that enforcement is also very important.
The Corp Marshal deserves commendation for the sensitisation programme. It is easier to drive his message across through consultations with the relevant stakeholders. Biu should also liaise with his colleagues in the paramilitary agencies, especially the police and civil defence to provide round the clock security in the proposed Stop Parks. This is because of the precarious security situation facing all parts of the country. The Stop Parks, when established, should serve the purpose for which they sprang up. There must be round the clock patrol by a detachment of the FRSC to monitor the sale of alcohol and consumption by the drivers. There are other causes of road accidents; it is good news that Biu and his men are working proactively to tackle the menace. The task of fixing the roads is beyond the purview of the Corps which was set up in 1988. While its officers are empowered to monitor reckless driving and check or determine the condition of vehicles, the government can do more.