Road accident in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Why? It is because road accident constitutes a menace in our modern day. The deplorable state of roads in Nigeria has certainly become a national shame and an unnecessary embarrassment as there is hardly any part of the country that can boast of motorable roads. The problem of bad roads in the country has become an embarrassing stigma. In many parts of this country, normal interaction has been frustrated by bad roads. Vehicle owners are in distress as their vehicles are not used optimally. Moreover, the very many potholes and detours mean that vehicles keep breaking down so that on many of Nigeria’s roads emergency mechanics have sprung up to assist stranded commuters sometimes with disastrous consequences. People are hurting that despite the fact that they pay road taxes to the Federal Government little is being done to repair it. The state of the roads has become worrisome that many lives are being lost on a daily basis. There are some factors that constitute the problems that we are facing concerning our roads which have turned it to be a killing field. They can be outlined are as follows:
1. Armed robbers: they are a constant threat particularly at night and some can even attack during the day time. It is common for thieves, rapists and other miscreants to wait comfortably because one would hardly see security personnel patronising some isolated roads and late in the night close to the bad side of the roads where all vehicles virtually come to a halt. Commuters are in trouble whether in the city of Lagos or Abuja or highways as bad roads make it impossible to plan a journey or predict arrival time. Commercial activity is suffering as goods and services are now in short supply leading to price increases in practically all consumer items. Transporters are lamenting the loss of revenue. They can only operate skeletal services during the day and cannot operate at night because of the menace of armed robbers.
2. Roads not big enough: Another problem besetting Nigerian roads is that they are not designed for expansion. As the volume of traffic increases, road construction should be seen to be keeping pace accordingly. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway, for instance, can do with further expansion. Corporate organisations should also assist in managing and contribute toward roads expansion as part of their social responsibilities
3. Decaying infrastructure: The lack of maintenance of roads in Nigeria has become a public issue as Nigerians are daily lamenting this failure of leadership. Good roads are a basic component of good governance. Nigerians are routinely being put at risk everyday as a result of the failure of the state to provide adequate amenities for its citizens. All the authorities involved in road construction and maintenance should buckle up and do something to remove this blot on Nigeria’s image.
4. Over speeding: Nigerian economy is no doubt a road-driven economy, and so, 80 to 85% of commercial activities in Nigeria, are done via road transportation, because lots of people cannot curb with the expenses of going by air. It is no doubt that drivers over speed without caring less about their lives or even their passengers all in the name of they want to get to their destinations on time. But what are the government and the road safety doing to enforce a road speed limit? We need a fast solution. More and more people are dying daily along our national highways, tankers and trucks are all driving beyond their speed limits, every car plying on the highways are on the excessive speed, We should do something before we keep losing the lives of our valuable citizens.
5. Reckless drivers: Some drivers, not just those driving commercial vehicles but also personal car owners throw caution to the wind once they are on the highway. They seem to forget the fact that this life is just one. When an accident occur, some end up death, some come out without a scratch and others end up having a life threatening injury that might even leave them bedridden for life. When you enter a vehicle and the driver is not ready to limit the way he or she is over speeding, simply tell him or her to stop and come down because your loved ones at home are waiting for you.
6. Another area of unhealthy development to watch is the fact that road projects in Nigeria are about the most costly in the whole world. Road construction contracts are excessively inflated and yet the quality of roads often delivered fall far below global standards. The meaning of this trend is that Nigeria spends more on road construction and maintenance and gets no value for it.
But all this is happening in a country where there are several agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Works responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads. Every state and local government is charged with the responsibility of construction and maintenance of roads. Although the government had built train stations to salvage the situation but more stations should be built since train is safer than travelling by road. Statistics of such deaths are frightening indeed. In 2009, for example, the nation lost 7,000 people to road accidents, 969 of them were children. The figures dropped slightly to 5,279 in 2010. In 2012, 11 persons were killed each day through accidents on the roads, according to statistics from the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC. More than 20,000 people sustained various degrees of injuries, some of the injuries bad enough to render the victims invalid for the rest of their lives, from about 6, 269 cases of road accidents recorded that year by the FRSC. Goods worth billions of Naira perish frequently through accidents. Roads like Lagos-Ibadan-Shagamu expressway, Abuja-Lokoja, Nyanya-Mararaba, Maiduguri-Monguno-Marte-Dikwa, Makurdi-Otukpo and Benin-Ore-Shagamu roads are in the worst state of maintenance.
It is a pity and quite painful that out of 193 countries in the world Nigeria is rated second highest in road accidents. Trillions of Naira are been spent to repair the roads and yet we have nothing to show for it. Monies that are meant for the maintenance of road are spent on election campaigns and some politicians have even diverted it for their own personal use. They buy expensive cars; build houses both at home and abroad, going for vacation abroad with their families and so on. Although, road accidents happen in both developed and developing countries but it is more in developing countries, most especially in Nigeria. For instance, in April 2016, not less than 142 people died in motor accident in just 15 days.
More so, according to Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) public education officer in 2013, between December 19, 2012 and January 15, 2013, Nigeria had over 480 traffic crashes and about 1600 people were injured and not less than 280 people died from these crashes.
Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that high rate of road accident in Nigeria is not acceptable because it is fast depleting human capital base. To further justify this assertion, below are the 13 notable road accidents in 2016.
1. On January 21, 18 people were killed in a fatal road accident that occurred in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of Edo state. The accident involved a trailer, a car and a 14 seater Toyota Hiace bus. The trailer rammed into a Volkswagen car and the bus after its brake failed, killing 12 of the passengers in the bus.
2. On February 8, no fewer than 30 passengers died in the Adeosun area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway after a trailer conveying over 50 people from Kaduna state tumbled down the road. Others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the crash, while two rams were killed.
3. On February 10, 10 people have been confirmed dead in a road accident which occurred at the Four Square Camp, Ajebo Area of Obafemi Owode local government area of Ogun state, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Six others were critically injured. The accident was caused by dangerous driving by the driver of a Mazda bus who rammed into an Iveco truck at a road division along the expressway.
4. On March 6, the honourable minister of state for labour and employment, Barrister James Ocholi, his wife and son died in road accident. The crash occurred at Kilometre 57, along Kaduna-Abuja highway. The car had a burst tyre before somersaulting, leaving its occupants dead.
5. On March 6, 18 people were burnt to death in a fatal motor accident at Buzaye Village along Bauchi-Jos road. The accident occurred in the late hours of Sunday. Two vehicles involved caught fire, burning all the 18 passengers as there was no rescue team on hand to free them.
6. On March 7, the deputy governor of Yobe state, Abubakar Ali was involved in an auto accident along the Kaduna- Kano expressway. The SUV he was travelling in had a head-on collision with a Toyota Avensis vehicle.
7. On March 8, a senior rank officer, who was chief of training and operation in the Nigeria Army, Major General Yushau Mahmood Abubakar, was involved in a road accident. The former commander of Operation Lafiye Dole died in the crash which occurred along Maiduguri-Damaturu. Another senior rank officer, the acting general officer commanding 3rd division in Nigeria Army, Brigadier General MSA Aliyu, was also involved in the accident.
8. On April 1, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) confirmed that Nigeria recorded 98 road crashes and 77 deaths nationwide during the Easter holidays.
9. On April 24, six members of the Ekiti state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), including their driver, died in a fatal motor accident along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. They were on their way to Sokoto state to attend 56th Annual General Meeting of the NMA. The rear tyre of the vehicle burst while the driver was speeding which set the vehicle on a ghastly somersault, killing the six medical doctors and the driver while others occupants were seriously injured.
10. On May 3, some secondary school students were involved in a fatal accident along Lagos-Ibadan Express way. The students, who were conveyed in a vehicle belonging to Government Girls Secondary School, (Dala) Bulukiya, Kano state were said to be on their way from Lagos state back to Kano where they had gone to represent their school in a national quiz competition. Scores lost their lives while others were injured following the tragic incident.
11. In May, Major General Gabriel Kpamber, a serving general in the Nigerian Army was crushed to death in a fatal road accident at Uchi in Tarka local government area of Benue state. He was said to be returning from a burial he attended in his Ushongo village when he met his untimely death.
12. The convoy of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state was involved in a fatal accident at Mikang, in Mikang local government area of the state on June 3. The accident claimed the lives of two security aides of the governor.
13. On June 19, an accident occurred at the busy Lagos -Ibadan expressway killing no fewer than 19 persons. The accident involved a truck, a fuel tanker and a commercial bus. It occurred at the Fidiwo-Ajebo, Ogun state stretch of the popular expressway.
14. On August 5, 17 Maiduguri-bound passengers were killed in an auto crash along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway when an 18-seater bus collided with a fuel tanker. Ngari Modu, a resident of Benisheik, told PREMIUM TIMES that “the bus was going on high speed when it suddenly skid off its lane and ran headlong towards an oncoming fuel tanker which”.
“The tanker ran over the bus which immediately caused the two vehicles to catch fire. Seventeen out of the 18 persons in the bus burned to death, while only one person managed to come out alive,” he said. Among them was a corp member serving in Gombe State that lost her life.
Nonetheless, in Nigeria today, hardly will you see a day that is free from road accident. In other words, a day hardly goes by without the occurrence of a road accident in Nigeria. Some of these road accidents that get to media stations are announced publicly, but majority of them goes unreported. In view of the foregoing, majority of the accident that happen on our roads are not part of statistics given because they are not reported to the authority. You can then imagine the high rate of accidents in the country beyond the given statistics. In view of this it can be rightly said that deplorable conditions of some of the Nigeria roads are not responsible for the high rate of accident in Nigeria. However, to a very large extent, high rate of road accidents in Nigeria are due to the carelessness and negligence of the road users. This should serve as a call to the Federal Government, the Federal Road Safety Corps and also to the road users. May the soul of the departed Rest in Peace.