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Promoting Safety, Preventing Accidents On Nigerian Roads

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DG of SON, Osita Anthony Aboloma

DG of SON, Osita Anthony Aboloma

Prologue: Across Nigeria’s landscape we have a total road network of approximately 200,000 kilometres. This distance include Trunk A, B & C roads, all over the country. All three tiers of government, federal, states and local government are responsible for these roads accordingly.

The Trunk ‘A’ roads, under the federal government ownership, cut across regional boundaries. They are designed, financed, constructed and maintained by the federal government. Correspondingly, the states (governments) own Trunk ‘B’ roads, and are responsible for their design, financing, development, and maintenance…through their respective ministry of works and transport. Trunk ‘B’ roads are those roads that tie the state together, linking urban locations/cities within given state and its capital.

Roads are prime infrastructural contributors to micro and macro-economic development of any nation. It is the back-bone of commerce, enabling passenger and freight movement across the nation. Nations expend huge resources to develop this infrastructure for its economic value. Especially in Nigeria, as indeed most economies in sub-Sahara Africa, where passenger and freight movement of 75 – 80 per cent depend on road for movement and transportation. Individuals and corporate bodies depend on it for survival. Globally, nations continually invest in providing and sustaining the potentials of transportation to drive economic development.

Sadly, however, the beauty of this resource has been tainted by growing fatal incidents, highest among under-developed and developing nations. Road accident has attracted global attention so much so, that the United Nation General Assembly, leading other stakeholders adopted the period 2011 – 2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety (May 11, 2011).

The action period is dedicated to the collective efforts of nations towards (a) stabilizing and (b) reducing global road traffic fatalities by year 2020. Nigeria is ranked the second highest among rated 193 countries globally, for road accidents.
This SPECIAL INTEREST publication by the Standards Organisation Of Nigeria, (SON) supported by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, is a collective effort by both organisations to contribute to driving down accidents on our roads. A first of a 3-part series, it is meant to serve the purpose of advocacy, working up public information, awareness and enlightenment towards achieving positive attitude change among Nigerians, for safety on our roads (especially as we go into the year-end festive period, with its attendant spike in travels and road usage).

An Overview
According to statistics from the Federal Ministry of Works (Compendium Report on ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE & RELATED DEVELOPMENT IN Nigeria – An Investor’s Manual. 2013), of the estimated total 200,000km road network in Nigeria, only about 65,000km (54 per cent of which is federal government-owned) length is paved in bituminous layers. In other words, we are talking of the portion we can refer to as good standard inter-state highways, largely, representing the best quality standard roads in Nigeria.

By the way, only 17 per cent of our entire road network is owned by the federal government. Whereas 95 per cent of freight and passenger movements depend on roads, in Nigeria, with a population size estimated in the region of 170mn, it leaves to reason how dire the need for us to invest in road infrastructure is.

Vitus Nwankwo Ukoji in his publication “TRENDS AND PATTERNS OF FATAL ROAD ACCIDENTS IN NIGERIA 2006-2014” noted that   “…the WHO adjudged Nigeria the most dangerous country in Africa, with 33.7 deaths per 100,000 population every year”. According to same source, between June 2006 and May 2014, 15,090 deaths were recorded in 3,075 accidents in Nigeria. So far the highest death rate (till 2014) was recorded in 2013 with a total of 2,061 deaths, a 2.8 per cent increase from the record of the preceding year. Nigeria is rated the second highest among 193 countries in the world, in the rate of accidents. Its population and population size and density, without a corresponding match in length of road network result in immense pressure on the available infrastructure, resulting in accidents, predominantly.

The focus of this initiative, and indeed SON (and FRSC’s) objective is to try promote/contribute to safer roads and reduction in road accidents by reducing the incidents of road accidents owing to tyres. In this case, we are focusing on passenger vehicle tyres.

Tyre as a component contributor to road accidents is crucial and multi-dimensional complexity, being ascribable to all-3 categories of factors recorded as causes of accidents, a ’la human, mechanical and environmental factors. Tyres can cause accidents as a result of human error (ignorance and carelessness), mechanical defects (blow-outs) and as a result of environmental effect (weather impact – heat/cold impact on its quality standard and performance). The FRSC has ascribed this as a major contributor to the high rate of accidents in Nigeria.

However, studies have shown that knowledge, awareness and application of basic information about tyres will help in reducing rate of accidents. The public’s awareness of the fine technical important details for safe and durable use of tyres are either not adequately readily available or not particularly taken into consideration by users. Figures on road accidents and death as shown above will trigger concern at any quarters, and SON efforts to activate the public’s awareness, enlightenment on tyres, for safe use of vehicle tyres.

The focus is on:
Quality standard for tyres.
How to identify a certified standard quality tyre.
Common product information to guide consumers’ purchase decision-making process in buying tyres.
How to identify expired and damaged tyres.

Maintenance tips for safe and durable use of tyres (including pressure gauge in tyres).

Primarily, safe use of tyres starts with knowing your tyre, and indeed the various categories tyres are classified, according to their specific manufacture technical details, in relation to intended usage/application. These classifications are primarily road condition-dependent, and fundamental for safety. So they are manufactured with specifications that support their particular application for safety and durability.  Such broad categories are:
(a) Animal Drive Vehicles (ADV)
(b) All Season Tyre (A/S)
(c) All Terrain Tyre (A/T)
(d) Commercial Tyre – for light trucks (C),
(e) Highway/Terrain Tyres – for SUVs and 4x4s (H/T),
(f) Mud And Snow Tyres (M+S or M&S)
(g) Commercial/Passenger Tyres (P)
(h) TL Tubeless Tyres (TL)
(i) Tube Type – must be used with an inner tube (TT)
These classifications are clearly marked on the body of tyres, to guide intending buyer/user. Tyres are classified with direct relevance to their design/manufacture details and usage. The consequence of engaging any tyre at cross-purpose with its technical structure and design details is better imagined.
To protect and guide tyre users for safety, the SON has developed and made available Nigeria Industrial Standard for Tyres, which is the yardstick for quality verification in this market.

For adequate protection of the market, SON has ensured that the industrial standard is open for verification by any of her independent accredited firms to implement the SONCAP (“…the pre-shipment verification of conformity to Standards process used to verify that products to be imported into Nigeria are in conformity with the applicable NIS or approved equivalents, and technical regulations before shipment”) Scheme, worldwide. What that means, is that the SON has established certain quality standards any tyre imported into this country must meet, to certify its safety for users in this market.

And part of that stipulation is that tyres are clearly marked for the relevant specific usage application, to guide the intending buyer/user appropriately. The SON presently concentrates its efforts on import regulation, distribution and sales of tyres, since there are presently no tyre manufacturing companies in Nigeria. They have strictly applied the SONCAP scheme in their warehouse surveillance, sales outlets monitoring and public/stakeholders’ in form of seminars, workshops, road shows and enforcement activities.

The Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, in his submission in our interview session with him, ascribed predominance of road accidents to about five elements bordering on human elements. According to him, the exit of local tyre manufacturers, Dunlop and Michelin, opened the local market to indiscriminate importation of tyres. Consequently, mischief makers took advantage to import expired and compromised quality standard tyres, exposing Nigerians to enormous dangers. At the users’ end, the FRSC discovered and recorded several cases of mis-application and usage resulting in accident.

For instance, the commission recorded cases of passenger transport buses, loaded with passengers, was running on agricultural vehicle tyres, clearly marked 30km/hr strength. Such situation open up road users to danger of accident.
In other instances, the FRSC noted that some of the tyres imported are not tropicalized. These are tyres that are designed and manufactured for cold region, imported for use in temperate region like ours, exposing users to expansion and blow-out due to heat/weather pressure. Such tyres expand during usage due to heat and thermal expansion, resulting in excessive pressure, blow-out, accident and death.

Add to that, over 80 per cent of tyre users do not know how to identify expired, damaged and compromised quality tyres.

Most vehicles on our roads run on expired tyres without knowing it. Running on expired and damaged tyres on our predominantly bad roads, can only lead to accidents and death. The Corps Marshall acknowledges the efforts of SON at checking the presence and use of substandard, damaged and expired tyres on our roads, as contributory factor to the rate of accident on the roads. The FRSC and SON are collaborating on many fronts, including advocacy and public enlightenment for safer road transportation in Nigeria, part of which is this initiative.

Way Forward
As we go into the year-end festive period when there is going to be huge pressure on the road, SON and FRSC are stepping up their collaborative intervention to try help reduce road accidents. In our subsequent publications (in November and December), we shall focus on specific details relating to tyre identification, purchase/engagement, fitting and maintenance, for safe usage and accident-free travel across Nigeria.



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