“Accidents happen. Our bones shatter, our skin splits, our hearts break. We burn, we drown, we stay alive” –Moïra Fowley-Doyle.
Only those hit by the tragedy of an accident can understand the pains Moïra Fowley-Doyle illustrates in the statement above.
For Nigeria, road accidents have become major contributor to nightmares, shattered lives, rendering many lame, crippled and handicapped on daily basis.
Any individual vast with national affairs will attest to the fact that out of the top stories on the national newspapers, televisions broadcasts, online and other mediums reports, cases of fatal accidents resulting to permanent or temporary disabilities and loss of lives are frequently mentioned.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figure revealed that “11, 363 road accidents were recorded in 2016” as reported by Vanguard news on 23rd March 2017. In details, the report highlighted that a total of “30,105 Nigerians got injured in the accidents recorded in 2016 amongst which 28,250
representing 94% of the figure, are adults, while the remaining 1,855 Nigerians, representing six per cent of the figure are children. 22, 705 male Nigerians, representing 75% and 7,400 female Nigerians, representing 25% got injured in the accidents in 2016” it said.
Even as many analysts and scholars have adduced disobedience, reckless driving, lack of professional ethics among road users, bad roads, indiscipline, use of bad conditioned vehicles and many others to its cause, the reasons might be too numerous to mention because of the relative manners of its occurrences.
Speed violation was reportedly responsible for the accidents in 2016, which accounted for 33.86% of the total road accidents reported. Loss of control and dangerous driving followed closely as they both accounted for 15.43% and 8.53% of the total road accidents recorded.
Alcoholism, recklessness and non-compliance with existing pre-cautionary and guiding principles are also top on the causes of accidents in Nigeria.
These acts are rampant among commercial vehicle drivers said to account for 53.8% of the total vehicle population in Nigeria in 2016.
Chinua Achebe in his book “The trouble with Nigeria” described Nigeria as “perhaps the most undisciplined nation of the world” where government is irresponsible as well as the citizens.
It is only in Nigeria that faulty vehicles are abandoned on the roads without any agency taking up responsibility for their removal. Recently, an awful Ibadan-Ife expressway auto-crash left many people burnt to death beyond recognition after a trailer collided with a petrol tanker.
Ayilola Gbenga, a law student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife on an eyewitness account told MMS Plus that the incident which occurred on his way from church along Ibadan road opposite Moremi Estate forced him to put his car to a halt as he alighted only to see flames behind him. “I joined the crowd to see what transpired only to see a strongly damaged 18 passengers commercial bus engulfed with fire. Initially, when I heard the loud roar, I thought I heard a collision with something or someone for I knew such uproar wasn’t a nice one and far from the border of exaggeration.
“Probably the victims might not have been ill fated this ugly way if there was quick response from ‘road safeties’. Thanks to OAU Teaching Hospital who could rescue the only survivor and the firefighters who came after the fire had been extinguished locally by concerned neighbors. What about the police and the FRSC? I didn’t see either of them for more than two hours till I left, but, the Police station is just 10 minutes drive and FRSC office is about 15 minutes drive from the scene.” Mr. Ayilola lamented.
It is therefore imperative at this juncture for government to rehabilitate and consistently put our roads in sound conditions. Corruption among government agencies especially FRSC and police should be eradicated with expediency. Smuggling, importation and patronage of fake, expired and substandard products in Nigeria should be curbed to the barest minimum while those indulging in it should be severely dealt with.
Individual countrymen must internalize discipline, patriotism and professional ethics in carrying out national assignments while necessary agencies must ensure that road users are optimally trained and certified.
Alcoholism, drug indulgence, Speed violations and other illicit acts should be shunned by road users. Passengers should play such roles of cautioning the drivers and report stubborn ones to appropriate quarters for sanctions.