…As Daily, Lives and Properties are Lost on Nigerian Roads
By MUHAMMAD IBRAHIM, Kaduna
Towards the end of February 2020, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC’s) Corps Public Education Officer, Mr. Bisi Kazeem said that commission will no longer condone drivers plying roads with two passengers on the front seat of commercial vehicles across the country.
He stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria recently in Abuja. It should have come earlier than now. But it is better late than never. Still, the FRSC should do more. A mere statement like this will not be enough. They have to implement it along other laws too.
One can not say that the FRSC Corps are not doing their job. They give their contributions whenever accident occurs. And this is one of their mandates.
However, the commission should ensure more safety on our roads. In some states like Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, among, we have KASTLEA, KAROTA, and Marshalls to aid in regulating traffic within cities.
Daily, lives and properties are lost on Nigerian roads. It is known to almost those who ply Nigerian roads, using commercial vehicles, that two passengers are carried on the front seat. Doing such discomforts the passenger in the middle if not both of the them. Most importantly, the driver in some cases finds it difficult to change gear manually.
Driving in Nigeria is turning to something one does the way he likes. Despite the fact that the Nigerian Highway Code clearly stated how one should behave while using the road. The Highway Code stated that a road user should assume he is the only sane person on the road. Going by this, if everyone will adhere to it, less accidents will be recorded.
However, designing highway code by FRSC is not enough. Nigerians and people in general don’t like abiding by laws until they are forced to. Also, it must be taken into consideration that it is not every driver that can read. Therefore not all drivers have read the Nigerian Highway Code. So there is a strong need to enforce traffic laws.
The FRSC can do more and so FRSC should do more. The FRSC Corps should go beyond working in cities, telling drivers to fasten their seat belts. FRSC corps should go to parks and ensure that all passengers are officially disembarked on their designated places and the vehicle is not overloaded before taking off.
From Kano-Zaria, for instance, drivers overload vehicles before plying road. Even as small as a Golf car, not even the wagon, they put two passengers in the front seat and four in the back seat. One is left in a dilemma on where he should sit because both the front and rear seats are not going to be comfortable.
Notwithstanding, even as far as Kano-Gombe and vice versa they carry two passengers in the front seat of Sharon and Golf wagon vehicles. The distance and the time of the journey are not of any concern to them. All they care about is profit maximization. Safety may not be their priority as well.
There was a situation where a Golf wagon driver conveyed three passengers plus himself, totaling four on the front seats and the same number on the back seats, with other passengers inside boot. That’s not even the point here!
The way the driver was discomforted, and of course everyone in the vehicle, is the is the major issue for worries. The comfort of the driver has to be given more attention because he carries human beings as passengers. How would the seat designed for a driver be occupied by two persons while in motion on the highway? Even the person that sits with the driver should be arrested by FRSC officials if caught and not the driver alone.
This habit, before now, is a major attitude among commercial motorcycle riders. They carelessly carry four in one. The rider too looks not comfortable from the way he sits on his bike’s tank, holds the handle bar. Like that he rides hiding from traffic officers now Motor Traffic Division (MTD) of the Nigeria Police Force not thinking that he and his passengers are doing that at the risk of their lives and not that of the officers of the MTD.
It is expected that the FRSC corps would go beyond what they are currently doing as their mandates cover clearing obstructions on highways. However, the general perception is that they don’t fully live up to their mandate these days and motorists are using every opportunity to cause unnecessary traffic jam for the majority of Nigerian roads users by displaying their goods for sale, including selling sugarcane on the road, and wrong parking, among others.
To show that the offenders are deliberately take actions that contravene the law, they identify where FRSC corps officials are stationed and therefore make efforts to avoid such zones, Therefore, the public expect that the FRSC officials continue to change operational tactics and frequently change their locations in order to outwit traffic offenders.
As it’s said, safety is everyone’s business, the FRSC and all road users have different roles to play to maintain safer roads in the country.