The need for an effective road safety commission in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized in view of the fact the most common means of transportation in Nigeria is the use of the roads and consequently vehicles. As human beings, we are seeking for happiness in life. However, the resources to make human beings happy are not always found in the place they live. This makes the need to move from one area to another very important in attainment of quest for happiness. Yet, as we always commence movement from one area to another, we are greeted with the message of “safe journey” and with the hope that travellers will be embraced with “safe arrival” at destination. Unfortunately, not all safe commencement of travels leads to safe arrival at destination. This is why the place of the road safety commission in Nigeria is very critical. Yet, the FRSC has faced several challenges including a recent recommendation that it should be scrapped or merged with other agencies.
I rather think that the FRSC should be renewed and strengthened more to handle the multi-dimensional issues on road safety in Nigeria. Despite the many years of existence of FRSC, we are yet to see substantial safety on the roads in Nigeria and I think the FRSC need to go beyond focusing on being by the road side and providing care for accident victims as well as traffic control.
We need to identify the major causes of accidents on the road and evolve measures to address them. The 3 major factors in road accidents are the human factors (drivers and other road users), the vehicle factor (state of vehicles and capacity) and the environmental factor (road quality, weather and related matters). In this way, human beings drive vehicles on the road and we need to identify who does what under the guidance of FRSC. To address the human factor, the FRSC needs to work with the Ministry of Education, NURTW, NATO, etc to develop appropriate educational programs for drivers and other road users. If human beings are well educated on road safety education (teaching, learning and practices), I believe that accidents caused by human factors can reduce.
Secondly, the FRSC needs to work with relevant agencies to ensure quality of vehicles that are moving on our road. The VIO, Mechanic associations, importers of vehicles and the Customs Service need to all work together to ensure quality of vehicles in Nigeria as they come into the country and while being used in Nigeria. This will reduce accidents caused by vehicle factors as some vehicles are just moving coffins.
The third point is related to road factors in accidents. I have always wondered why the FRSC has nothing to do with road construction companies, road construction contractors, etc. How will the FRSC bring about results when they have no input on the way roads are constructed? Some road bends, roundabout, T crossing, etc are truly very unprofessional. I have always wept when I see FRSC officers focused on checking vehicle particulars on the road, when that does not contribute to any safety on the road.
We need a preventive road safety policy in this age of transformation. I am praying for a new road safety organization that will have officers at the motor parks and take off points for vehicles to ensure that vehicle are in good form to convey passengers than officers waiting along the highways 40km away from take-off. I envision a new FRSC where officers will be in the Julius Berger team constructing our roads and bridges and offering professional guidance. I wish we can have a FRSC where officers are at the sea port when vehicles are being cleared for use in Nigeria and confirming that such vehicles are good for use on the road. I am praying for a new FRSC that will ensure that vehicles are registered with national numbers as soon as they are cleared at the ports and borders and not at LGAs and states level as instances abound where vehicles used for bombing cannot be traced to anyone who imported it to Nigeria.
I am earnestly praying for a new FRSC that will have Driving Schools and courses for pre-service and in-service drivers from basic certificate to diploma, bachelor/spinster degrees, master’s degree and PhD as well as programs for Professors of Driving practices. I hope that we can have FRSC officers in schools and colleges teaching Road safety education as a subject to our children and students.
The FRSC must realize that its mission is to ensure safety of all road users and materials in Nigeria. Since the general desire for happiness cannot be realized without moving from one end to another, we must ensure that as we bid “safe journey” to road users, their families should happily receive them with “safe arrival” message. Beyond professing safety, the FRSC should move ahead to SAVE Nigerians from deaths on the roads
Dr Raphael Ogar Oko, International Coordinator, Global Educators for All Initiative