Road crashes: The loss of 14,773 Nigerians in three years

IF anyone was in doubt about the continuing carnage on Nigerian roads, such qualm must have been dispelled by the recent media report indicating that a staggering 106,256 Nigerians were involved in road traffic crashes between January 2019 and December 2021. According to data released by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), out of this figure, 14,773 people died in the 31,116 crashes recorded within the period. Apart from the casualty figures, about 91,483 people were said to have sustained various degrees of injury. Within the period under reference, the year 2021 witnessed the highest number of cases: a total number of 10,637 accidents involving 35,791 persons were recorded, out of which 5,101 were killed and 30,690 injured.

According to the statistics, with 1,026 cases, Ogun recorded the highest number of crashes in 2021. On the other hand, Bayelsa State recorded the lowest number of crashes with 40 cases. In 2020, a total of 10,522 road traffic crashes were recorded. The year 2019, which had the lowest number of road crashes with 9,957 cases, nevertheless witnessed the death of more people (4,878) compared with 2020. Those who sustained injuries during that year were 32,344 in number. Instructively, the Public Education Officer of the FRSC, Bisi Kazeem, linked the crashes to speeding, route violation, mechanical defect, drunk driving and dangerous driving. He claimed that the corps had continually put in place mechanisms to prevent road crashes. Some of these preventive measures, he noted, were enhanced visibility; broadened, strengthened and sustained stakeholders’ engagement and collaboration, improved personnel capacity in road safety management, effective patrol operations, and widened public enlightenment campaigns.

In the context of the countless number of Nigerian lives claimed by the pervasive and increasingly intractable insecurity in the country, the figures of mortality recently allocated to road crashes in three years by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) may look benign. This, apparently, would be from the obviously jaded perspective of the average Nigerian who is fatigued from seeing and hearing of constant deaths. Still, the significance and portent of such a massive casualty figure cannot be diminished by crass cynicism. If indeed lives in this country are as precious as in the developed societies, the loss of such a huge number in three years ought to jolt the authorities. Sadly, existence in the country has become such a veritable torture as to make death look like a welcome relief from pain. The FRSC has rightly attributed the tragedy to various factors, but the salient point is that it all boils down to governance irresponsibility. People in leadership positions would rather be distracted by the perks of office, not the core reason for their election. If the government cannot guarantee good roads, neither can it guarantee road safety.

It is for instance hard to figure out why the Lagos -Ibadan expressway is taking so long to complete despite the several variations in the contract terms. The serial diversions on that road have caused the deaths of so many Nigerians. The point must be made that governments at all levels must respect the sanctity of human lives in all circumstances. It is bad enough that thousands of Nigerian citizens are dying from insecurity-related causes; to worsen matters with avoidable road crashes is patently evil. It’s all about governance irresponsibility. Besides, it is not open to debate that road crashes occur in large part because of impunity. If traffic infractions and crimes attracted commensurate sanction and if officialdom applied the laws of the land evenly, errant drivers would sit up. In civilised climes, even serving judges have been sent to jail because of drunk or reckless driving, but Nigeria, with its “bigmanism” issues causing the elite to get away with crimes for which the poor and the downtrodden are hardly pardoned, presents a different picture. That has to change, and very fast too.

 

 

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