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February 24, 2017

Ember Months and road users

Experience has shown that ember months are characterized by heavy vehicular movements on Nigerian roads, with a corresponding rise in number of road accidents.

Road crashes with their attendant losses in lives and property reach a climax at Christmas and the New Year, as more people travel home to participate in the festivities around this season. According to recent World Health Organization (WHO) report: tagged “Road safety in WHO African Region”, not less than 11 people are killed daily on Nigerian roads, especially at this period. Consequently, Nigeria accounts for the highest fatalities with 33.7% per 100,000 population every year on road traffic deaths in the selected African countries. One in four traffic accident deaths in Africa occurs on Nigerian roads. Statistics from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) also show that most of the road crashes occur in the ember months and that Nigeria loses N3billion annually as 1-3% of the country’s Gross National Product is lost to road accidents, especially during the ember months.

The factors responsible for the rise in the number of road accidents during the ember months include: Bad condition of our roads that has kept getting worse by the day. All over our towns and villages, pot-holes along our roads keep degenerating into gullies and death traps. These roads become nothing short of slaughter slabs.

Bad driving on our roads also contributes to car crashed at this time. Most of the drivers on our roads are poorly trained and who lack the right driving culture, including safe and courteous driving habits. It is during these ember months that many commercial drivers, eager to make all the money, do more night journeys without proper lights, in their vehicles, over load, and over speed with their poorly maintained vehicles.

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Some of the pertinent questions that arise include: Why does the FRSC target private vehicles whose drivers obviously place more premium on their personal safety, instead of intensifying the inspection of commercial vehicles especial intercity buses whose drivers are often reckless.

We hear that speed limits are now in place on our roads. One questions how the FRSC hope to implement the speed limit for every vehicle when vital road traffic signs that should guide road users are not yet in place? The federal Road safety commission should focus on ensuring cars are safe to ply on our roads than spending a huge amount of time checking the expiry dates of car particulars.

It is however pertinent to note that we cannot talk of sanity on our roads, until the various levels of government play their roles in fixing the bad roads. Everyone needs to join hands with the FRSC, Police, VIO and other stakeholders, especially during these ember months to ensure that our roads are safe.

We call on drivers as well as other road users to obey traffic regulations while the FRSC should strictly enforce the sanctions stipulated for contravening them.

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