Special marshals have made our roads safer
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) recently held its 2014 Special Marshals summit to reflect on the imperatives of enforcing driving codes and rescue operations efforts as well as the need for a robust public education and advocacy programmes for Nigerian road users. Not only was the attendance impressive, most of the engagements which centred on road safety management at the one-day session were thought-provoking. The Corps Marshall and FRSC\ Chief Executive, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, who in his opening remark said that most road accidents in Nigeria are avoidable, lauded the efforts of the special marshals, even as he enjoined them to work harder.
According to Oyeyemi, “road traffic crashes don’t just happen; they are caused either by omission or commission of the drivers, and therefore, could be averted if drivers are committed to carefully observing the causative factors.” Such consciousness, Oyeyemi contends, “is significant, because it helps drivers to show more concern to their safety and those of other road users by diligently obeying traffic rules and regulations and avoiding actions that could compromise safety on the roads.” He therefore lauded the efforts of the special marshals who have helped to reduce road accidents in our country.
It is noteworthy that the FRSC Establishment Act, 2007 provides for the creation of the special marshals as a volunteer arm for promoting road safety management and road traffic administration and its membership is drawn from well-meaning Nigerians. Today, our country boasts of no fewer than 15,000 of such special marshals–critical stakeholders who have voluntarily joined the campaign against the menace of road traffic crashes.
In reviewing the reasons for the frequent accidents on Nigerian roads, one of the issues that came up at the summit was the recklessness of convoy drivers who pose serious dangers not only to other road users but also to the society at large. For years, many Nigerians have been at the mercy of these killer-drivers whose daredevilry on the road have claimed the lives of numerous innocent citizens. These drivers have no regard for traffic rules and regulations and under the cover of presumed “official immunity” from arrest and prosecution, they have become laws unto themselves.
What is lost on the convoy drivers is the implications of harassing the very tax payers whose money was used to purchase the vehicles and to pay their salaries. However, the real blame falls squarely with the public officials being driven in such reckless manner. Indeed, the way they go about terrorising other road users had always left the public wondering whether these drivers were under instruction from their bosses to break the rules of civilised conduct, especially whenever they are late in keeping appointments. It was therefore the hope of many stakeholders at the FRSC summit that convoy drivers would begin to demonstrate some civility and respect for traffic rules so we can put an end to executive recklessness on our roads.
Because road safety is not a responsibility that should be left only to the regular marshal, the idea of special marshals in the campaign against road carnage is a novel one, but it has helped in the effort to ensure safer road environment. It is even all the more gratifying to know that the special marshals as operated in Nigeria is the largest volunteer force in Africa and members have been playing critical roles in the campaign to ensure the success of road safety in the country.
While the idea is commendable, we enjoin Oyeyemi to ensure that those enlisted as special marshals by the FRSC are responsible people who are role models in the society and not those who merely use the privilege that goes with being special marshals for self-aggrandisement.