Nigerians appear to neglect the use of pedestrian flyovers, despite the dangers of crossing highways and major roads, writes correspondent, SIMPLICIUS UBAH
Recklessness of motorists, motorcyclists and the volume of traffic on major roads which has led to the death of many pedestrians trying to cross main roads have forced the authorities to construct pedestrian footbridges at strategic locations.
The objective is to reduce or stop the unnecessary accidents recorded on such roads involving pedestrian and vehicles.
Crossing the road at undesignated places is called “Jay Walking” in America, and it is punishable by fine. But in Nigeria, crossing the road anywhere, anyhow, any day is considered a normal routine for pedestrians.
Notwithstanding the construction of pedestrian bridges by the government at major high ways, some Nigerians, still fancy dashing across the road instead of using these bridges.
They all scramble across the road, diving over the barricades and putting their lives and the lives of motorists in great danger. Some even go to the extent to further break or damage iron bars that are used to block some of these highways just to find their way to the other side of the road.
Sadly, all these are happening directly under a pedestrian bridge where others are crossing safely; ‘it is like using a screwdriver to clean your ears, while you have cotton buds with you’ an observer said.
A visit to major cities in the country where pedestrian bridges are cited showed that the act of crossing the expressway has become a norm. The people who are involved in the shameless show, however acknowledged that their actions are dangerous but it appears that is not enough to discourage them from doing so as they have reasons for their actions.
It is believed that they do not like using the pedestrian bridge because they are always in a hurry and the best way to get to their destination is to cross the expressway because it is faster. In addition, it was found out that they find it very difficult to climb the stairs of the bridge because they don’t know its importance.
A young lady, Miss Faith Elijah on her own part, maintained in a chat with this paper, noted that most Nigerians are impatient, that is why they don’t like making use of the foot bridges. She also stated that such act is very risky to the pedestrian’s life. “Most people are impatient, they are looking for short cut and that short cut is mostly dangerous”.
While it is erroneous to believe that it is easier to cross a major highway or ‘trunk A’ road rather than using the pedestrian bridges, the reason is that most pedestrians think that they are not physically fit to climb the bridge. They also look at the distance of the bridge and think it is awkward, without knowing that it is risky since they are also endangering their lives by crossing the road.
However, some Nigerians argued that laziness is the main bone of contention here. But they have forgotten that the governments that provided those bridges are not fools. According to Mark Nwafor, an Abuja resident, he argued that the reason for this action is that many Nigerians are lazy in the sense that they do not want to do anything that they regarded as unnecessary.
“As for me, most times am just tired to use the bridge. It is like climbing the Kilimanjaro Mountain, so I just resort to dashing across the road. And also, sometimes the bridge is often congested that some people collide into one another, some people are even selling goods there” he stressed.
Others who gave their thoughts on the subject matter ,on the other hand, maintained that it is an act of indiscipline and called on government to enforce laws against it and punish anybody who is found crossing the highway instead of using the available pedestrian bridge as Nigerians, they argued, prefer things to be enforced on them before they comply.
However, the Nigerian Pilot Sunday also discovered that some states have already enacted laws against crossing the main road where pedestrian bridges are available and Lagos state is one of those states.
Early this year a man was punished for crossing the highway instead of using the pedestrian bridge in Ikeja. He was ordered by the security operative to kneel and hold his ears.
“Crossing the express road for me is another form of suicide mission, because where there is pedestrian bridge that you can just climb and go your way safely, It is worrisome why Nigerians have to be forced to take steps which preserve their own lives”, wondered Mr. Benson.
However another Abuja resident Bala Musa, stated that there are good pedestrian bridges in many major cities in the country, yet lazy people dash across the road every minutes of the day. He went further to say that if there were no bridges; these same people who are crossing the road will be the same people who will be cursing the government for not providing such facility.
Both Legal experts and human right activists who also lend their voices to the issue of pedestrian bridges and the need for their use, instructed that the bridges are meant for the pedestrians to use and that the states government and authorities of the FCT should enact laws that would compel defaulters to be prosecuted.
They advised pedestrians to make use of the footbridges because if a motorist unfortunately knocks anybody down while crossing the expressway, he could claim that he was unaware that someone was crossing the road because it was expected that people would use the bridges. The Police and other law enforcement agencies should be empowered to arrest defaulters, observers also reiterated.
Again, while it is important to continue to enlighten road users on the need to use the foot bridges following arguments that they (are not well informed that the bridges saves life, it is sad that they believe that it is a waste of time climbing them). The government has not made it mandatory for people to know that once they don’t use the pedestrian bridge, there will be a penalty. Because of this, residents use the expressway without getting arrested.
However, experts further urge government to create awareness for the people to know the risk involved in crossing the expressway. If the government can take a drastic measure by enforcing some rules, it will help in motivating people to start using the pedestrian bridge.
Using pedestrian bridges is easier because you know that you are safe, instead of dashing through the highways and thus putting your life and the life of others in great danger’ says an analyst who spoke to this paper anonymously.