Scourge of our Roads

It manifests itself, like a hydra headed monster each time without fail. It’s no respecter of persons and has refused to be tamed nor corralled.

To what do we owe this evil resident on our roads, that is blood sucking, hair-raising and bone chilling in approach and delivery.

How did it become so entrenched in the fibre of our being that we are now inured to it and seem unperturbed about it.

The Nigeria situation has reached such an alarming proportion even to the point of sheer frustration and near helplessness. Nigeria continues to feature in the bottom half of World Health Organisation country rankings of road traffic accidents. The country’s 149th ranking in 2009 out of 178 member states indicates the hazards associated with road transportation in a country that is largely dependent on its road network for economic, social and physical activities (Sumaila, AbdulGaniyu Femi, Road crashes trends and safety management in Nigeria). Pressing on his research, (Sumaila, 2013) stated that; Indeed news of road traffic accidents in Nigeria no longer stirs any surprise. What may be shocking, however, is the magnitude of the fatality.

Daily, Nigerian Newspapers carry news of road traffic accidents that are considered significant only in severity. Sometimes the papers sum up the number of lives claimed as if they were providing an expenditure account. e.g. “over 100 lives lost to fatal accidents in the Nyanya area in the last one year’. Such news indicates that we live in accidents every day. According to Sumaila (2001) road traffic accidents have claimed more lives than deaths resulting from all communicable diseases put together including the dreaded Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

According to Dr. Murtala Muhammad Umar, “The human factor accounts for up to 90% of accidents infact, the mechanical and environmental factors are subservient to it.” This is also backed up by Eze Bun that Driver/human factor contributes solely to about 57% of RTA and 93% either alone or in combination with other factors. Lack of knowledge of road signs and regulations, illiteracy, health problems like poor eye sight, excessive speeding, alcoholism, drug abuse, arrogance, over-confidence are some of the human factors too numerous to mention that cause RTAs and all these can be placed under one banner.

Nigeria loses about 80 billion Naira annually to road accidents. Of all subjects that are involved in road traffic accidents in Nigeria, 29.1 per cent suffer disability and 13.5 per cent are unable to return to work. Hence, the cost of road traffic accidents includes the cost of both private property and public amenities damaged, the cost of medical treatment and the cost of productivity lost due to the accident. (Eze Bun, 2012). According to Afamdi O. Ezenwa from the College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, between 1974 and 1983, the number of road accidents increased by 10.4%, injured cases by 43% and deaths by 110.6%. Let’s extrapolate to 2014, that’s 31 years down the line, am sure the statistics will be staggering and frightful.

I stated earlier that all the human factors responsible for road traffic accidents can all be placed under one banner, and that banner is IMPATIENCE.

Of course we have mechanical and environmental factors involved in road accidents, but human factor is the highest culprit and I would put it all under impatience.

Am sure, we have witnessed several instances on our roads, where a slight delay and vehicles are queued up, you see a driver pull out suddenly and either take the shoulder to get ahead or face the coming vehicles in the opposite direction. And before you know it, everywhere is a gridlock. And this is often exacerbated by law-dis-enforcers who with reckless zeal, blare their sirens, face coming vehicles, force them out-of-the-way and bully their way through a traffic logjam and before you can say Jack Robinson, a rag-tag convoy of a dozen vehicles are barging after them and you wonder, whats the rush about?

Now we have some nasty rats on the road in form of tricycles popularly called Marwa and motorcycles popularly called Okada. Who lord if over themselves to have the right of way at all times. AT traffic intersections, you see them barreling their way through the red light, on the roads, they are either maneuvering through the road shoulder or squeezing in between vehicles to meander their way through. They have turned to such irritants on the road that a third lane is created for them on a two lane road just for them to have their own right of way. So much for traffic regulations on our roads!

Why won’t a driver know what a road sign means? Or what the road regulations stipulates? It’s all in been impatient to get on the road and get driving! Why will a driver make use of drugs prior to driving or even be speeding on the road if not for impatience to do the right things at the right time.

Yes we may not have the best of roads, our roads may be in dilapidated conditions, our so-called “Leaders” may have diverted the money for road rehabilitation somewhere and may have even made empty promises in several millions to construct road, but it’s no excuse for us to be impatient on our roads nor exhibit road rage, who is the younger brother to impatience on our roads.

This is January 2015, the year is still young and of course, young as it is, she has claimed her fatalities early into the year. But we have a personal responsibility to ourselves first and secondly to our family and finally to other road users. We do not need to transfer blame nor responsibility to anybody as regards it. It is our collective responsibility to tame the scourge of our roads, the beast called IMPATIENCE.

And all it requires is just a little patience.



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