Stakeholders worry about highway crashes, call for caution
Deaths arising from road accidents have continued to rise despite efforts by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and others to curb the menace in the country, stakeholders have said.
The stakeholders also accused the officials of the agency of placing emphasis on gratification and revenue generation at the expense of safety.
The 2021 statistics released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that no fewer than 41,693 deaths, representing 2.82 per cent of the total global figure occurred in Nigeria.
The WHO report noted that road marshals, Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) and highway police as well as state traffic law enforcers are no longer as effective as they used to be.
This statistics is, however, at variance with the one provided by the FRSC, which attributes road deaths to less than 6,000 yearly in the past six years.
FRSC also put the daily average of road accidents in Nigeria at 36 with high casualties, but was silent on the actual number of deaths recorded on a daily basis due to the road menace.
However, despite the low figures presented by FRSC, its statistics still showed that road deaths were on the increase yearly in the country in the past six years.
Commenting on the issue, a retired Assistant Corps Marshal, FRSC, Ayobami Omiyale, at a recent retreat in Lagos, said that local statistics provided by the corps showed that a total of 32,617 people died in 65,053 accidents on Nigerian roads from 2016 to 2021.
According to him, 5,053 lives were lost in 2016, while 5,121 and 5,181 lives were cut short in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Omiyale emphasised that in 2019 and 2020, about 5,483 and 5,574 lives were also lost, respectively, while 6,205 lives perished in 2021.
He added: “The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), relying on the FRSC data, revealed that 1,834 people died in 3,345 road accidents in the country between Jan¬uary and March 2022.”
Chief Executive Officer, Safety Beyond Borders, Patrick Adenusi, in an interview with The Guardian, explained that many road accidents, which are recorded at nights, especially in northern Nigeria, are hardly reported.
Corps Marshal, FRSC, Dauda Biu, attributed a recent Ojuelegba Bridge accident in Lagos to wrongful overtaking and excessive speeding by the truck driver.
Nine people including two children died in the crash in which a truck carrying a container fell on a commercial bus.
The FRSC and NBS also listed factors responsible for the road crashes as light/sign violation, dangerous driving and tyre-burst; brake failures, route violation and bad roads.
Lagos Sector Commander, FRSC, Segun Ogungbemide, said the corps only has the capacity to address only 16 per cent of the highway challenges.
“The one that will give more impact is to keep policies and regulations in place to prevent the crashes from happening,” he stated.
Many safety campaigns and strategies by the FRSC to curtail road crashes have either disappeared or played down.
Some of them are the installation of speed limiters in vehicles, use of seat belts, crash helmets, use of alcolyzer and radar guns to know drunk drivers and over-speeding drivers.
A commercial bus driver, Mr. Abdul Razaq, in an interview lamented that activities of FRSC on roads add to the number of road crashes and deaths on the highways.
Rasaq stated that most of the officials of the corps were more interested in taking bribes from drivers than maintaining law and order on the highways.
Also, he alleged that some of the motorists to avoid the FRSC officials on roads, end up with avoidable accidents, and urged the leadership of the agency to show more dedication to the discharge of its duties.
He said: “FRSC officials add to the number of road accidents and deaths on the highways. Most of their offi¬cials are more interested in forceful gratification from motorists, instead of performing their core duties.
“One would have thought that road accident rates would have decreased massively in Nigeria with the creation of FRSC, but the reverse is the case. The corps is not a revenue gen¬erating agency, but through its conduct, it is competing with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other revenue earning organisations.
“There should be a reorientation of its officers. We can’t continue to have avoidable deaths on our roads, while the FRSC team looks away. In fact, the conduct of its officers adds to road crashes.”
Analysts also mentioned the different strategies and facilities used during enforcement such as alcolyzer and radar gun, but regrettably noted that they had all disappeared.