As we approach Christmas and the New Year, more and more Nigerians will be traveling to and from different parts of the country to celebrate the festivities with their loved ones. The poor state of our roads and the increased vehicular traffic at this time significantly increase the rate of road accidents. Many of the accidents can be prevented if efforts are made to repair the very bad portions of the roads and road safety officials are available to check reckless driving on the highways.
With just a few days to Christmas, we call on the Federal Government to ensure that the bad spots on all the major highways are put in good shape to avoid road accidents. There is no denying the importance of good roads to safe driving. Road transportation is the most popular means of transportation in the country, after air, rail and water. It follows, therefore, that our roads should be made free of potholes and other danger spots to reduce our road accident statistics.
Due to much pressure put on our roads, they tend to cave in a few years after construction. That is why some of our highways are decrepit and oftentimes with craters, potholes and manholes that cause accidents. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that a total of 2,556 road crashes were recorded in the country during the first quarter of 2017, in which 8,672 Nigerians were injured and 1,466 died. A breakdown of the figures showed that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, recorded the highest number of road crashes.
It was closely followed by Kaduna and Niger states. Borno and Bayelsa states recorded the least road mishaps during the period under review. Although speed violation, loss of control and dangerous driving accounted for 12.73 percent and 7.34 percent of the total road crashes during the period, use of phones while driving, and bad, pothole-riddled roads contributed to many of the crashes. That is why it is necessary to fix the roads now to avoid such untimely deaths. Poor sections of the roads should not only be afforded palliative treatment, road safety officials should ensure the erection of warning signs at the danger spots.
Ideally, road maintenance should be factored into our road contracts to extend their lifespan. Apart from this, government must develop an enduring road maintenance culture that will ensure that the roads are kept in good shape always.
While it is imperative that all bad roads in the country are fixed to ensure an effective road transportation system, we call on the Federal Government to proritise the repair of major federal roads during this festive season to ensure smooth travel for the people. Among the roads begging for urgent attention are the Lagos-Ibadan highway, Ilorin-Mokwa Road, Abuja-Okene road, Shagamu-Ore highway, Benin bypass, Onitsha-Enugu highway, and Enugu-Port Harcourt highway.
The list is by no means exhaustive. While the Federal Government should fix its bad roads across the country, we also call on the state and local governments to fix their dilapidated roads. We say this because many state and local government roads are in a sorry state across the country. Their potholes should be filled up.
This is the only way Nigerian road users can be assured of motorable roads this season. If every tier of government keeps its roads in good condition, the problem of dilapidated roads will be less. Apart from serving as a veritable means of transportation, good roads will be of immense benefit for the evacuation of agricultural products from the rural hinterland to urban centres where there is a greater demand for them.
It is commendable that Anambra and Delta states have concluded plans to work with officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to ensure that the usual traffic gridlock on the Niger Bridge is considerably reduced this festive season so that travelers can move easily on the bridge without delay. The FRSC officials in other states of the country should strive to ensure that road users have a smooth ride during the festive season. Since over-speeding has been identified as one of major causes of road crashes, FRSC officials must ensure that drivers conform with speed limits by erecting barriers and speed breakers at necessary areas.
We wish all our readers safe journeys throughout this season and beyond.