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Published On: Wed, Jan 17th, 2018

The journey beyond for some Minna/Bida road users

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WEDNESDAY Column by Israel A. Ebije

ebijeo5@gmail.com | or @ebijeisrael.com

The death of eleven (11) on Monday along the Minna, Bida road has sadly added to the increasing number of Nigerians who have died just 15 days into the year 2018. To say the year is jinxed only exposes falsehood as most of the deaths are caused by human factors. It is either road users are careless in the case of accidents. In the area of terror based deaths, humans are responsible for decisions to use guns and knives to kill and destroy. This is not the time to blame the state or federal government on the bad state of roads, but the time to ask if most commercial drivers are mentally, physically capable to use our roads. Government is certainly responsible for road maintenance – a task they have umpteenth times failed to undertake. Failure of government to fix roads is not as culpable as to the recklessness, which some Nigerians apply when using the roads. Some government officials, especially governors, weave snakelike between traffic, most times smashing their way through, others road users are either on drugs or believing in local charms, usually barrel their way to doom.
The families of the over eleven victims burnt beyond recognition will remain with the ashes of their fallen brethren, with the burns drilling a lifetime pain inside of them. Some will vent their anger on government irresponsibility, others on the drivers recklessness. Some may swear never to go through that route again. The fact however suggests that Minna, Bida road and many others in the country will continue to drain the blood of many if drivers continue to apply speed instead of sense as they steer their way often times to doom. One cannot access the sense of judgment of the drivers involved in the Minna, Bida road, but speed, careless overtaking, senseless claim of right of way, dodging of potholes are frequent culprits. Sadly, that fateful Monday will remain black, but that is the way it is in many parts of the country where death on wheels snatch people unbeknownst.
The statistics of road related deaths in Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) say no fewer than 2,673 people died in road accidents in Nigeria between January and June, 2017. This implies that an average of 15 people died each day in the first six months in road accidents across the country last year. The Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC), placed annual death toll at 36,000 deaths from road crashes. There may be discrepancies in the figures reported by NBS and FRSC, it is however instructive to note that these are documented statistics, which may never come close to accident related death tolls rising in areas deep inside Nigerian villages with burrows and death traps for roads.
Incidentally, Minna, Bida road is not among the top dangerous roads in Nigeria, yet has recorded hundreds of deaths. If Minna, Bida express is not near most dangerous roads in the country, then it does not require rocket science to imagine how earlier stated statistics may come short if records are properly kept on accidents across Nigeria. Few roads which may not exhaust a long list of horrible roads across the country include but not limited to the followings; Abuja-Lokoja-Okene-Kabba, Okigwe-Umuahia road, Enugu-Awka-Onitsha road, Otukpo-Otukpa road in Makurdi, Lagos-Sagamu-Ore-Benin road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway. On these mentioned roads, external factors order than poor driving and horrible state of the roads include the followings; Armed robbery, police traffic checkpoints, unmarked corners, absence of illumination on roads and abandoned broken-down vehicles.
When road mishaps occur, people are inclined to see it as the “devils” work or more religiously, the “will of God”. The only mystical reasons many Nigerians are yet to come to terms with can be viewed from these critical areas: The nature and maintenance culture of roads in the country by relevant government agencies must be considered; Medical response culture by relevant agencies when accidents occur is important to assess; Lastly, and most importantly, the mental and physical position of most drivers using the roads must be evaluated. Afore mentioned are very important chains of intricately connected elements, which must be addressed to prevent accidents on Nigerians roads. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), boss Boboye Oyeyemi said in 2017, they will conduct psychiatric tests on traffic law offenders in the country. It is however instructive for the FRSC to work with Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) to enforce psychiatric test compliance before issuing or renewing drivers license. They must not wait until accidents occur.
Strange behaviors are frequent occurrence on the road, complicit in the more than geometric rise in road related deaths in Nigeria. Road rage, unnecessary highway greetings, haste to make return trips, dangerous overtaking, dodging of potholes by drivers have led many to early graves. To say passengers are not complicit is to allow a vital causative factor slide. It is common knowledge that on many occasions, some passengers are in a hurry to get to their destinations, hence they urge drivers to speed recklessly. It is even common to see some passengers bribing drivers to speed up so they can meet appointments. Regardless of how it is viewed, the driver is responsible for his or her actions and cannot pass the buck. The roads are bad or other drivers are unruly are known variables which needs good state of mind to manage. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.
Ebije can be reach via: ebijeo5@gmail.com or @ebijeisrael

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