Each day, the agony of travelling on our roads is better imagined than experienced. Aside from the general state of disrepair, is the recklessness of the road users themselves, particularly the commercial drivers. Our roads are so dangerous and not safe, is an obvious fact.
A World Health Organisation, WHO, report once confirmed this fact, saying that of the 1.3 million people around the world who die yearly from road accidents, about 80 per cent are from developing economies, and Africa takes the lion share of such deaths. And considering that Africa accounts for just 11 per cent of the world’s population, the scale of deaths on our roads therefore is unacceptable.
In Nigeria, no fewer than 500 people die monthly on our roads. The WHO report further stated, “If nothing is done by countries around the world, especially those with very high death rates in Africa to stem the unpleasant tide, the rate of deaths and injuries would increase by 65 per cent between 2015 and 2020, making death by road surpass those caused by malaria and tuberculosis.”
Clearly, our roads are increasingly becoming death traps for travellers, and a high degree of uncertainty as to how any journey would end.
Many reasons account for this ugly scenario, first, is the poor state of our roads. However, it is a known fact that good roads do not in themselves guarantee accident-free journeys, but what can be done is to minimise the rate of these accidents. Thus, all levels of government should work hard to improve the roads in order to reduce the rate of deaths on our roads and make travels safe and more enjoyable.
Secondly, most of the vehicles on the roads, particularly, the commercial vehicles are either not road worthy or not properly maintained or both. Hence, we witness cases of brake failures, bust tyres among others, leading to fatal road accidents. Although, new vehicles do have accidents, but other factors being equal the chances of such vehicles getting involved in accidents are lower than rickety and badly maintained ones.
Also, there is the problem of over speeding. Experts agree that the greatest cause of accidents on our roads has to do with over speeding. Without doubt, speed, especially over speeding, kills.
Aside all these, is the question of poor policing of the roads by the authorities saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring sanity on the roads. Imagine what our roads would be like if the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC; the Vehicle Inspection Office, VIO, Highway Patrol and others were not policing our roads. So, the country needs truly diligent, honest, committed and efficient agencies to check those rickety vehicles that daily ply our roads and the fear of being reprimanded or even arrested might force many road users to take to some corrective measures as well as obeying the laws related to road usage.
We therefore, urge the government to enforce the laws to the letter and let the bad eggs within the agencies saddled with guaranteeing safety on our roads be punished to serve as a deterrent to others. However, corrective measures cannot be possible without funds to enforce them. So, more funds should be voted for the road sector and other road related agencies and ensure that such funds are judiciously spent.
Above all, let the authorities embark on aggressive enlightenment campaigns to sensitise drivers and other road users alike. Indeed, maintaining and improving safety on the roads should be a collaborative efforts by all and sundry. Therefore, safer roads remain an economic imperative, for they increase movement of people and goods, as well as boosting socio-economic development. But more crucially, they save precious lives, which is why more should be done to make our roads safe at all times.

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