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Roadmap for safe road transportation

A road accident

A road accident

It is an open secret that Nigeria has unenviable global injury and mortality record of road traffic crashes and its attendant negative effect on the economy.

Though Nigeria’s total road network put at 200, 000Km is second highest in Africa, its density per capital of facility and population of 170 million is quite low when compared to its fast developing counterparts such as Malaysia, South Africa, Indonesia, among others.

Nigeria’s road network is responsible for the movement of 90 percent of people, goods and services in Nigeria and this arises from the limited development of rail and water and air transportation.

Other statistics have it that the inadequate road network in Nigeria is overstressed and characterised by massive road distress, maintenance challenges, safety issues and dearth of maintenance funds.

Indeed, not all modes of transportation on Nigerian roads, such as cars, buses, motorcycles, tricycle and bicycle are intricately mobilized in an integrated manner to produce a robust transport system.

According to the Ministry of Works, private and public organizations involved in road transportation research, operations, management and administration in Nigeria are not fully networked in line with global trend to intricately harness and take advantage of their combined activities and achievements for better service delivery to the transport sector and to Nigeria at large.

This trend formed the fulcrum of discuss as experts met in Abuja recently to seek a significant reduction of the occurrences of road traffic accidents while improving the chances of survival of victims.

The event was the international conference to develop a roadmap to safe, efficient and sustainable road transportation in Nigeria organized by the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI).

Participants were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Works, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Council for the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Police, Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), among others. They dreamt of a time in the future when Nigeria would be cited as an example of a country with remarkable improvements in road safety and efficiency.

Director General of NBRRI, Prof Danladi Matawal, said efforts were on towards developing a new roadmap for road construction in the country.
A different roadmap to guide the housing sector is also in the offing, he said.

He said the experts and stakeholders who attended the conference were fine-tuning inputs into the document, noting that a final copy is to be sent to government for adoption.

“It is the ultimate aim of the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, as well as its partners that at the end of the summit, a practical roadmap will emerge towards achieving safe, efficient and sustainable road transportation in Nigeria.”

He noted how the Institute was engaging relevant stakeholders in its attempt at addressing key national issues, noting that the many challenges militating against effective housing delivery in Nigeria were of concern to his agency.

He said: “There are large disparities in road death rates when different regions of the world are compared and contrasted, but the risk of dying as a result of a road traffic crash is highest in the African continent at 24.1 persons per every 100,000 population. The lowest is the continent of Europe at 10.3 per every 100, 000 population. Of significance is that 38 per cent of all African road traffic deaths are of third party mature, as they occur amongst innocent pedestrians.

“In another dimension, 80 per cent of the world’s road traffic deaths occur in the middle-income countries which account for 72 percent of the 7 billion plus global population. Ironically, these countries account for only 53 percent of the world’s registered vehicles in spite of over-dependence on road transport for nearly all activities of the society. It is therefore implied that these middle-income countries, where Nigeria belongs, have the most severe challenges as it related to safety on the roads. For illustration, Nigeria’s 2010 road crash figures gave 33.7 traffic deaths per every 100, 000 population, which was the highest in the West African sub-region and also very high in Africa. Globally, and in Africa for comparative purposes, the figures are: 31.9 for South Africa, 13. 5 for Ukraine, 3.0 for Sweden and 2.8 for Iceland.”

He stated further:  “Countries with the lowest rates of road crashes in the world still take road safety issues very seriously. Therefore, why would Nigeria with that alarming figure not take the problem more seriously?”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, urged stakeholders not to rest on their oars, but strive towards addressing other critical issues that were begging for solutions in the road and building sectors of the Nigerian economy.

An expert in the industry, Chief Dele Okeya, drew the participants’attention to the need for concrete and implementable resolutions “which would ensure a vast improvement in the safety standards of road transportation in Nigeria.

Also speaking, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Dauda Kigbu, observed that until the nation’s road network is made safe, efficient and sustainable, transportation by road in Nigeria would always produce negative trends in several areas.

He noted: “There is, therefore, the need to continuously put several issues in perspective, such as: addressing the high rate of traffic crashes, casualties and fatalities in spite of considerable input and investment of government resources; promoting and sustaining effective road asset auditing and management in order to ensure adequate management of Nigeria’s road infrastructure for better service life and service delivery; redefining mass transit system for cost-effective movement of people, goods and service by road, whether inter or intra-city, without putting undue pressure on road infrastructure; placing greater emphasis on research and development to address issues in the road transport sector for better service delivery.”

He stressed that:  “This should include evolving and implementing innovative options to complement existing road transport operations for better service delivery. For effectiveness, this should include evolving inter-modal transport system, encouraging an integrated use of bicycles/motor cycles, incorporation of dedicated lanes for various road-based transport systems, including physically challenged people, among others.”

He stressed the need to revisit and implement the National Transport Policy.

His words:  “It is instructive to note that the mortality rate in road crashes in 2010 in Nigeria put at 33.7 traffic deaths per 100,000 is the highest rate in the West African sub-region. The fatality in 2014 was 6,544 traffic deaths while crash injuries between 2011 and 2013 averaged at 40,000 injuries. Moreover, it has been estimated that there are less than 100 ambulances dedicated to road safety emergency activities. These are issues that are worrisome and which should engage the attention of participants.

“Over the years, the provision and maintenance of roads has engaged the attention of the Federal Ministry of Works. The thrust is to ensure that all Federal roads are motorable, safe and efficient.  The Ministry has embarked on robust rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes to achieve this objective which has assisted in ensuring better condition of our roads and reduced travel times between destinations.

“The Ministry has also earmarked Federal link roads for construction either directly or through public-private-partnership model. These efforts are geared towards ensuring safe, efficient and sustainable roads in Nigeria. But I must be quick to appeal to Nigerians to safeguard these roads and report attempts by unscrupulous people who tamper with the road itself by making trenches for cabling without restoring the road to both their original states and those who pilfer road furniture which create unnecessary transportation and safety risks.”

He described road safety management as a good planning tool for safeguarding Nigerian roads and for the projection of timely and efficient upgrades as well as planning reconstruction programmes.

Kigbu noted that there was the need for safe and efficient mobility of goods and services, adding that this is where the operation of inter and intra-city mass transit operations becomes relevant and important.

“The coordination of these mass transit systems in Nigeria seems to be largely suspect as they are not necessarily networked to achieve global operational standards that can effectively galvanise the road transport sector. One positive side of this is the Bus Rapid Transport System in Lagos, which has become a success story, with room for improvement.”

He called on state and local governments to set up similar programmes either directly or through PPP initiatives.

“Taking these steps will make safe and sustainability of people and services within and between urban centres realisable. There is also the need to explore and introduce innovative programmes in optimizing road transport system in Nigeria.”

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