By Tina George, Minna
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says it would no longer tolerate overloading of passengers by commercial drivers in vehicle boots.
In response, commercial drivers have absolved themselves from the blame, claiming that they are pressured by the passengers to be put in boots, in order to pay lesser transportation fare.
The Zonal Commanding Officer, Assistant Corps, Marshal Umar Ibrahim, gave the warning to commercial drivers at the flag-off of the 2019 Ember Months Campaign Rally at Gwadabe market, in Lapai garage, Minna.
According to him, most of the road traffic crashes that occur on roads in Northern Nigeria, are attributed to overloading of passengers and goods.
Umar said that no northern state is exempted from this new practice, and that even the FCT, which is the nation’s capital, also practices it.
“What we have observed in the north among commercial drivers is excessive overloading, this time, it is human overloading. All states in the north are guilty of this including the FCT.
“It is only in the north that you notice people are carried in the boot or on top of cows or other goods like tomatoes or yam. Is it that we no longer value life?
“From now on, FRSC will no longer tolerate excessive overloading or carrying people in the boot. We will be very strict about this especially in the north.”
Umar then urged passengers not to allow themselves to be overloaded, adding that they should be concerned about the safety of their lives even if the drivers were not.
“Life has no spare part. If you allow yourself to be overloaded and anything happens, it happens to you. You live life just once and only once. Take value for your life and do not allow yourself to be overloaded.”
However, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Minna told the Zonal Commanding Officer that the act of passengers and goods overloading was not their fault.
One of the officials of the NURTW who spoke on behalf of the State Chairman, Alhaji Musa Kontagora, pointed that most times, some of the passengers approach them with half or no transport fare and they have no option than to assist them.
“We are not at fault for putting people in the boot as the Zonal Commander said. When these people come with no money or little money, knowing how Nigeria is, we just have to help them to get to their destination. We are only trying to help”, he stated.
In his address, the Secretary to the Niger State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Matane said that Niger state has had its share of road traffic crashes, which is on the high side urging the FRSC to do its best to reduce these crashes.
He appealed to all road users especially vehicle drivers and riders to ensure that they avoid all actions and activities that will affect their concentration while they are on the road.
Matane then urged the various transport unions to work with the relevant government agencies towards reducing carnage on the roads
The Niger state FRSC Sector Commander, John Jaguar said that road safety is a state of mind while road traffic crash is an absence of the mind urging drivers and passengers to stay alert while using the road in order to stay alive.
He explained that the Ember Month campaign rally was to sensitize motorists on the safe use of the road as the year ends.