6th September, 2010
It has been estimated that the Nigeria loses over 35, 000 of its citizens to road accidentsÂ annually, the Executive Director, Accident Prevention and Rescue Initiative (APRI), AbujaÂ Nigeria, Prince Fidelis Nnadi, has said. This figure has not taken into account the numberÂ of victims of such accidents that are rendered incapacitated throughout their lifetime orÂ those who die from the trauma of the accidents.
Lamenting those road traffic accidents have become a common occurrence in the country, heÂ said apart from the devastating blows it has on its victims, more devastating is the pain itÂ causes the victims before they finally die.
Disturbed by this worrying trend, he has therefore advocated the merging of the Federal RoadÂ Safety Commission (FRSC) with the Federal Ministry of Works/Transport saying that was theÂ consensus view of other stakeholders like him.
According to Prince Nnadi, the merger has become vital for the regulation of safe use ofÂ roads, â€œmaking inputs in road design, engineering and certification of safety on roadÂ construction as roads are constructed without consideration for the safety of other classesÂ of road users and safety facilities. All these are some of the issues for government toÂ tackle towards curtailing road traffic accidents in Nigeria.â€ He explained that the tragicÂ occurrence has been reported by experts as among causes of national economic retrogressionÂ and poverty to families and that this was affecting the country.
â€œIt is estimated that over 35,000 (under reported) people are killed annually by RoadÂ Traffic Accident in Nigeria, but despite its daily occurrence, the federal and some stateÂ governments are yet to respond positively in tackling the carnage, except Lagos State andÂ the Federal Capital Territory Administration that have deployed resources for effectiveÂ enforcement of road traffic regulation to ensure adequate safety of road users and sanity inÂ the road transport sub-sector,â€ he stated.
Giving insight into the reasons behind the spate of road accidents in the country, theÂ Executive Director lamented that various governments, organised transport unions andÂ associations were yet to improve realistically on their responsibilities to the safety ofÂ road users.
While roads are designed and constructed, he said, little or no consideration is made forÂ safety facilities to guide and protect road users, particularly motorists and other class ofÂ road users.
â€œMotor vehicle drivers account for substantial cause of road traffic accidents resulting inÂ injuries and deaths. In Nigeria, driver training is not institutionalised while driverÂ licensing and other motor vehicle related matters are shared between Federal, State/FCTÂ Government authorities.
â€œThis has created disharmony and controversies among these authorities considering thatÂ driver certification and licensing and other issues of Motor Vehicle Administration is theÂ constitutional responsibilities of State/FCT Governments,â€ he said.
As a result of the shared responsibility, he complained that unqualified drivers now obtainÂ licenses through racketeers and unauthorised persons.
â€œDriver License is a legitimate instrument of identification globally and is an instrumentÂ of identification for financial transactions in banks and other related institutions evenÂ though these institutions are versed in the verification of the genuineness of driverÂ license.
â€œSame is applicable to vehicle number plates which are printed and sold to unsuspectingÂ motorists by insider syndicates.
â€œIt is however obvious that fake driver license, number plates and related motor vehicleÂ documents are in circulation caused by duplication of functions and compelled partnershipÂ between the FRSC and State/FCT Road Traffic Agency.
â€œThese and other controversial issues in the administration of motor vehicle between theÂ Federal Road Safety Commission and State/FCT Road Traffic Agency are among causes of theÂ present unprecedented rise in road traffic accidents in Nigeria,â€ Nnadi stated, adding thatÂ while the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) claim authority and responsibility for theÂ printing, issuance of vehicle number plates, based on CAP 548 LFN, the FRSC rely on its 2007Â amended Act to assume authority over motor vehicle administration thereby raising theÂ question as to who actually should be held responsible for the lapses in road traffic andÂ safety management, certification and licensing of drivers, and the functions that areÂ presently shared by the two authorities.
He accused the FRSC of abandoning its unique primary function of road safety enforcement andÂ focusing on road traffic enforcement, a situation that has brought the commission in enviousÂ conflict with the State Road Traffic Agency which has in all aspect been weakened inÂ performance by the incursion of the Commission into their functions.
â€œWhile the principles of function demarcation between the Federal and State/FCT road trafficÂ agencies is obvious and established, many state governments have neglected theirÂ responsibility to establish and equip their Road Traffic Agencies and it will be inhuman forÂ the Federal Road Safety Commission to hesitate in taking over their functions towardsÂ ensuring safety of road users, even though the Commission, by virtue of complementingÂ efforts, is expected to advise and encourage the state governments to establish and equipÂ their road traffic agencies towards efforts in safety of road users estimated at 80% ofÂ Nigeria population of 140million people,” he said.