Metropole Magazine

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17 Jun Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

Nigerians and the Road

Road accidents are Nigeria’s third leading cause of deaths. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 1,042 deaths for every 100,000 vehicles. Compare this to 15 in the United States with its over 300 million population and about 240 million cars and trucks. The United Kingdom recorded 7 deaths for every 100,000 vehicles for the same period. There are an estimated 8 million vehicles in Nigeria, expected to reach 40 million in 2020. If the number/100,000 stays the same, we’d have 416,800 deaths by 2020. Looks impossible? In Nigeria impossible is nothing especially when you realize that most of these accidents are caused by human choices; there are bad roads and there are old, hardly road-worthy vehicles but bad drivers have been blamed by the authorities for causing most of the accidents.

We cannot deny this sad truth. Breaking traffic rules in Abuja for instance is the norm rather than the exception. You are bound to see people jump the red light at intervals for the few seconds you spend waiting to have the green light come on. We are quick to write opinion articles and discuss how the managers of our country have mismanaged our common interests. It’d help for us to see how much our own micro contributions to that are making macro impacts. We cannot continue to pretend about our own contributions to our country’s underdevelopment. It is easier to blame government for not building enough roads; it would be more saintly to admit that where these roads exist, our drivers have abused the same by breaking speed limits and driving fellow Nigerians to their death.

Our Life Expectancy figure is one of the lowest in the world. With the number of Nigerians that lose their lives on the road, the reason is not far-fetched. Before we begin to talk about terrorism and armed robbery that are a lot more in the hands of the authorities to deal with, how do we begin to police ourselves to do the right thing? It is shocking to see even educated Nigerians throw waste out of their cars. How much can government do if citizens insist on doing the wrong thing? The deaths on our roads are not the jobs of the road safety officials alone to curb; it is our job as citizens. We are the drivers and the passengers; we have more control over these deaths than the government. Have we not seen that road accidents in Nigeria are often on good roads than they are on bad roads? It is easier to blame government for every ill in the society and but it is better to correct the ills of our society that are in the hands of everyday citizens. We cannot continue to kill ourselves on the road and expect that a government policy will stop the deaths.

On the side of government, it is shocking to see people break traffic rules and more often than not escape punishment. As long as people are not punished for the wrong they commit, there’d be incentives for others to copy such acts. There are many ways to move a nation forward but the best place to start will always be with citizens taking the first step. In the end, change is in every part of the whole doing its bit to move the whole forward.