If there are anything worrisome in Nigeria today, one of them will obviously be the high rate of accidents on the Nigeria roads. Unconfirmed study has even shown that there is hardly a day there is no road crash in Nigeria, be it minor or fatal. The number of people that are dying everyday on the roads across the country is worrisome just as many people are being maimed every day and suffered permanent disability owing to accident.
Unfortunately, findings have shown that over 80% of the crashes on Nigeria roads are caused by human factor, while other factors contribute the remaining less than 20%. Infact, a traffic expert, Patrick Adelusi once said in an interview that most of the accidents that happened on Nigeria roads should not be called accident simply because they are avoidable, saying some of the crashes are something that should have been expected and that is as a result of the state of things or situation before such accidents.
It was against this backdrop that the Road Users Awareness and Welfare Initiative (RUAWI), a not for profit organisation, launched a laudable move recently, in collaboration with key government agencies and private organisations with the aim of reducing crashes and injuries on Nigeria road by 50% by 2032. One of the strategies the organisation wants to use to achieve this laudable target is to educate passengers and all road users on matters relating to road safety, the causes of road crashes, what to do to avoid it as well as the right of the passengers.
While speaking during the official lunching of the initiative in Lagos on December 1, 2022 with the theme “Road Traffic crashes on Nigeria Road: A Shared Partnership”, the organisation’s Trustee Chairman, Mr. Dayo Bello explained that the organisation is looking at how all stakeholders can work hand in hand to achieve the singular aim of crash reduction on Nigeria roads.
He said “we are simply saying no to untimely death on Nigerian road. There are many anomalies on Nigeria roads. Passengers are not being given the required regard. The drivers always see themselves as the king, whereas, it is supposed to be the other way round. Customer is always a king; so passengers are supposed to be the king.
In a bid to ensure that the right of the passenger is protected, Bello said the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has become one of the collaborators of the initiative to protect the right of consumers (the passengers). He added that the organisation is also collaborating with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to curb the menace of drug abuse among the drivers on the road. Other collaborators of the initiative include the National Youth Service Corps, the Nigeria Police.
“The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have been doing what they are supposed to be doing but there is always room for improvement, so we are also collaborating with them”, Bello said.
According to Bello, there are some laws that protect the passengers and can also reduce crashes on the road but such laws are not being enforced which further justifies collaboration with FRSC to ensure that those law are being enforced accordingly. Another law on the road that needed to be enforced, according to Bello is the passengers’ insurance.
Bello said “we are coming up with more campaigns that will let passengers know that the law exists, because from our research, we found out that about 99% of passengers don’t know anything about passenger insurance.
“Passengers don’t know that they are supposed to be insured. Whenever you board a bus from one destination to another, especially on interstate, there is insurance that cover all passengers, N50 out of the total money the passenger paid is supposed to go for the insurance. It was an exciting thing when we heard that there is a law backing the passenger insurance cover, but it is equally sad when we heard again that the transporters/fleet operators are not insuring passengers.
“So whenever there is an accident, every passenger will just be on their own, this is one of the reasons we have so many death from road crash, because if people are insured and they can actually go to the hospital and get quality treatment, then the death rate will reduce, this is one of the focus of RUAWI”.
According to Bello, to achieve the set objective, the organisation has set out to raise one million volunteers through its website and as of press time, about 300 volunteers have registered. The volunteers, according to Bello, are expected to disseminate information and educate Nigerians.
He said “the volunteer we are raising is through our website. All you need to do is to register as volunteer in our website at https://ruawi.com/. We are not saying people should bring money before they can register as volunteer. The volunteers are supposed to be information carries. If people are not getting the right information, they will not know what to do. So through the volunteers, we will be able to pass the right information to every Nigerian. No one is left out of this, and that is because all Nigerians travel by roads irrespective of the distance. With the volunteers passing the right information to Nigerians, everybody will know all the hidden things about the road. We are therefore looking forward to see every road user as volunteer and we are going to see how the volunteers will be supported by our collaborators”.
The RUAWI Trustee Chairman reiterated that the organisation’s set target will be pursue together with all the collaborator to achieve it come 2032. He said “from day one, we have set a target for ourselves, as you can easily see on our website, we said “take action with us to reduce road crashes and injuries on Nigeria road by 50% in 2032, this means we want to achieve this target in the next 10 years. If you visit our website, the date is already reading”.
Bello called on all Nigerians to join hand with the organisation to reduce crashes, injuries and untimely death on Nigeria roads. “Road safety is everybody’s business, so nobody should say oh! It is Mr. Bello’s project. It should be everybody’s business. When someone we know dies as a result of illness, we may thank God, we may not really feel too bad unlike when someone dies as a result of road accident, it is always painful, so road accidents’ death is not what anybody should pray for.
“When someone dies while sleeping or due to illness, we may say may be it is the person’s time, but when it is through road accident, it is usually seen as untimely death. Even if the person is 100 years old, it is still seen as untimely death. So we are looking at how we can join our hands together to put an end to untimely death on Nigeria roads and how we can make our road to be safe. On security on the road, we are going to engage the police. All Nigerians should join hands with us to accomplish the set objective”
While speaking at the initiative launching, the Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) ably represented by the Lagos sector Assistant Corps Commander Ibitomi Joshua noted that FRSC is collaborating with RUAWI because the course the NGO is pushing is a laudable one. He charged guests at the event and all Nigeria to take road safety course as an important one, noting that road safety matter is a shared responsibility of all Nigerians who move on the road.
Also speaking at the event, the Director, Vehicle Inspection Services, Lagos State, Akin-George Fashola who was also ably represented by a senior officer of the services (Engineer Taofeeg Ayeni) pointed out that most of the road crashes, which accounts for about 98% are caused by human factor, while about 2% could be weather or anything else. He also lamented constant traffic light violation which he attributed to high level of impatience on the part of the drivers.
According to him, most of the drivers are so impatience that they are unable to observe road signs, adding that such situation is causing crashes. As part of the state government to reduce road crashes, he said many computerized vehicle inspection centres have been established across the state, noting that the state government will also not relent in its effort to ensure that crashes is drastically reduced in the state
He also pointed out that the poor condition of vehicles is increasing road crash. He stated that some people put vehicle on the road without ascertaining the condition of the vehicles; whereas, every component of the vehicle including tyre, break among other must be checked constantly and ensure in good condition.
“If we can all put our acts together, we can reduce road crashes in Nigeria to the barest minimum”, the VIS boss said.
In his remark, the coordinator of NYSC in Lagos, Yetunde Abimbola Baderinwa, who was ably represented by Mrs. Yewande, commended the board of RUAWI for the effort they are putting in place to reduce crashes on the Nigeria roads. She reiterated that the agency is a lover of the move that RUAWI is making, noting that the move aligned with some of the thing NYSC is already doing, among which is partnering with FRSC and other relevant agencies to render community services at various level.
She specifically pointed out that NYSC will support the initiative to ensure that the set goal is achieved. “NYSC is ever ready to support this initiative and also FRSC to ensure that there is safety in our environment and on the roads”, the NYSC boss said.
Also speaking at the event, the CEO of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera (ably represented by Mrs Suzie Onwuka) said the mandate of the council is to protect consumer interests. She urged passengers to always question anything they consider not good in the vehicle and demand that those things should be put right before the commencement or during the journey. According to the FCCPC boss, every passenger has the right to get efficient service from every transportation company. He charges passengers to report any transport company that infringe on their right, saying they will ensure that such passenger will get justice without delay. She expressed the readiness of the agency to collaborate with RUAWI to achieve safety on the road and ensure that the right of the Passengers are protected.
The representative of NDLEA in person of Mr O lashore A. Samson at the event reiterated the commitment of the agency to put an end to drug abuse. Beyond arrest of offenders, he said the agency has been embarking on advocacy against drug abuse in various communities through town hall meetings and other informal engagement, adding that the agency will not relent and also ensure that commercial drivers are not engaging in drug abuse which posed big risk to passengers and other road users.
Aside the government agencies, some private corporate organisations are also collaborating with RUAWI to achieve the set goal of reducing road crash by 50% by 2032. One the companies is NEM Insurance. The Chairman of NEM Insurance who was ably represented by a top management staff at the launching said in his remark that the organisation believes strongly in what RUAWI stands for, especially as it relates to awareness and welfare and therefore pledged to support the initiative.
He also called on all Nigerians to support the course that RUAWI is pushing, saying there is need for all Nigerians to be sensitised on the road and safety measures. “Many people that are driving on the road don’t even know the different between service lane and busy lane. Over speeding is one of the causes of crashes. But I want to call on every Nigeria Nigerian to give RUAWI the necessary support to enable the body to achieve the set goal. If there is need for training, we are ready to provide the needed welfare, crashes must reduce on our roads”.
On its part, Airtel Nigeria who is also collaborating with RUAWI, stated its readiness to connect all drivers together on a Closed User Group (CUG) where they can talk freely at 500 per month. Nigeria Brewery on the other hands pointed out that its recently launched energy malt drink, Zagg is ideal for driver to get energy, and also help them to avoid alcohol. Similarly, 11 PLC (formerly Mobil) stated that servicing vehicles with original lubricant will help to avoid vehicle breakdown on the road. Oil Company restated its commitment to always make quality and original lubricant available to every fleet and vehicle owners to make service their vehicle to avert constant breakdown of vehicles on the road.
The Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi in his remark at the event commended the board of RUAWI for their efforts towards curtailing crashes on the roads. He however urged the board to go extra mile and sensitise the drivers by ensuring that the message is efficiently and effectively passed across to them. He also used occasion to appeal to FRSC, VIO and other agencies, including police on the road, to be civil while dealing with truck drivers on the road.
The moderator of the event, Mr. Victor Oteri of Lagos Traffic Radio, decried the recklessness of most of the truck drivers in the country, saying some of them act wickedly against other road users sometimes. He urged truckers associations in the country to train their drivers on road safety. He also noted that the long distance that truck drivers drive is not good enough for safety. He therefore called for a practice where more than one driver will be assigned to one vehicle for a long trip. He also urge FRSC to intensify campaign on the use of safety belt while calling on all and sundries to support RUAWI, saying road safety matter is a serious one that everyone needs to get involved.
Other participants at the event the tyre dealers, present and past chairman of Nigeria Auto Technicians Association alongside their members and other relevant stakeholders in the transport sector. They all applauded the move that RUAWI is taking. They urged the organisation to go to the streets, schools and other public places to sensitise and educate people, while hoping that sanity will return to Nigerian roads anytime soon.