The rate of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs), particularly in developing countries has continued to increase over the years. According to a recent report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.2 million people worldwide, die annually and about four times this number sustain several degrees of injuries due to road accidents. The report attributes the increasing pace of road accidents to three major factors: recklessness on the part of drivers, mechanical faults and road defects.
The recognition of RTAs as a major crisis in Nigeria, led to the establishment of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), vide Decree 45 of 1988, as amended by Decree 35 of 1992, The commission was charged primarily with the organisation and administration of road safety in the country.
Nevertheless, hundreds of people are still being killed or injured on the roads daily due to avoidable road accidents. This figure, according to experts, is bound to rise following the inception of the rains. But Mr. Sam Maduka Onyishi, chairman and chief executive, Peace Mass Transit Limited (PMT), says the rising rate of road accidents can be reduced to the barest minimum if drivers are given adequate training; vehicles maintained regularly with genuine spare parts and the dilapidated roads across the country reconstructed by the various levels of government – federal, state and local governments.
Accordingly, the management of the company had in the last few years, embarked on the training and re-training of drivers on its fleet, and this measure says the company’s public relations officer, A. C Ogbuagu, has among other things, led to the reduction of road accidents in the company’s fleet. “The Peace Mass Transit has the lowest percentage of accident rate of all the mass transits on the road…We have more fleet of vehicles with lower accident rate”, he said.
Last week, the company invited stakeholders in the transport company, officials of the FRSC and the media, to its office in Enugu, to witness a training session organised for some of its drivers, and the presentation of new Toyota Hummer buses to the trained drivers.
And speaking at the occasion, Ogbuagu said the training programme for the drivers was meant to stop over speeding, recklessness, drunkenness, wrongful and dangerous overtaking while on the road.
“As the giant on the road, our training is different because we make use of qualified trainers and resource personnel from the FRSC”, said Ogbuagu who spoke on behalf of Onyishi.
As part of its efforts to reduce road accidents to the barest minimum, the company has established a warehouse where it stores genuine spare parts, hostels at several locations where drivers are required to have enough sleep before embarking on a journey, as well as intensive health clinics where drivers also undergo medical check-ups.
In addition, the company has provided breathalyser to its patrol men, to fish out drunken drivers. The Peace Mass Transit (PMT) Limitd was founded in 1995 to provide commuter services to the general public mostly within Nsukka, Enugu and Onitsha areas. But today, the company operates in 26 out of the 36 states of the federation. Its passenger haulage annually is put at 24 million. There are 2,000 buses on its fleet. In a recent study carried out by Messrs J. Ohakwe, I. S. Iwueze and D. C. Chikezie, entitled “Road Accidents in Nigeria: A case study of Obinze/Nekede/Iheagwa Road” in Imo state, the scholars recommended among other things, the rehabilitation of all the decrepit roads in the country, to reduce the incidence of road accidents and the consequent deaths and injuries.
Ogbuagu makes a similar recommendation: “It is important to note that many accidents on our roads are caused by the deplorable condition of our roads, and we hereby call on governments at all level to repair these bad roads”. This may be a tall order.