The year 2021 started on a rather difficult note for commuters with many auto crashes claiming many lives in January. EJIKE EJIKE, Abuja, ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna, KALU EZIYI, Umuahia, BERNARD TOLANI DADA, Uyo, ABDULLAHI OLESIN, Ilorin, ACHOR ABIMAJE, Jos, NAHUM SULE, Jalingo, and RICHARD NDOMA, Calabar, report on the disturbing crashes
Cars are an integral part of day to day life as automobiles bring convenience, luxury, and speed to everyday transportation. Sadly, they are also the cause of heartache and pain for the thousands of victims of car crashes each year.
Statistics show that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death globally, and most road users are quite well aware of the general rules and safety measures while using roads, but it is only the laxity on part of road users which cause accidents and crashes.
However, some of the causes of road accidents as noted here include night driving, over speeding, drunken driving, as well as distraction on the side of the driver, the consequences are usually colossal which include permanent injuries, loss of earnings, and ultimately loss of life.
However, 30 days into January over 100 persons have been killed so far this month in various road crashes across the country as shown by the LEADERSHIP findings.
The corps marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, has advised fleet operators, other commercial drivers and patronisers of night trips, including private vehicle owners to desist henceforth from it, emphasising that night trip which is often characterised by poor visibility, fatigue, sleeping on wheels, excessive speed among others is not only unsafe but utterly dangerous.
He stated this after receiving reports of the dangers, the risks and the rising cases of fatalities occasioned by road traffic crashes recorded at night.
While there is no comprehensive record of victims of road crashes for January 2021 yet, the corps marshal of FRSC while speaking extensively on road crashed this January 2021 and why night trips should be avoided, lamented that on 5 January, 2021 alone, an avoidable fatal crash occurred in Kabba, Kogi state where two vehicles were caught up in a head-on collision as a result of a combination of some factors revealed to be fatigue and sleeping on the steering.
The crash involved the driver of a white Toyota Hiace bus (MSA 942 XA) that contravened COVID-19 protocols on physical distancing by overloading the bus with 18 passengers instead of the prescribed eight passengers and a green Iveco trailer (AKA 788 XC) carrying seven passengers.
Out of the 25 passengers on board the two vehicles, eight were killed while 17 sustained various injuries.
Similarly, while maintaining that crashes that occur at night are more fatal than the ones that happen in the day time, Oyeyemi also lamented that just on 9 January, 2021 two vehicles; a white Sienna (KUG 538 BJ) and a Sharon bus without a number plate were involved in a fatal crash on Akwanga-Keffi road leaving the entire 17 passengers on board burnt beyond recognition.
Speaking further, the corps marshal disclosed that intelligence report reveals that most fleet operators and other vehicle owners, including private vehicle owners who are addicted to night journeys, do so for selfish economic gains, unnecessary overloading of vehicles with both passengers and goods, and to avoid arrest and enforcement on physical distancing by FRSC patrol teams.
He warned that in as much as the Corps does not have the statutory powers to ban night trips, it has become very critical and a matter of urgency for patronisers of night trips to retrace their steps and plan their journeys in the day time because oftentimes when the crash occurs away from FRSC rescue points, it’s difficult to access help from motorists at night.
In the same vein, while listing out the dangers associated with night travels, like poor visibility, fatigue, sleeping on wheels, dangerous driving, overloading, speeding among others, Oyeyemi also warned passengers whose journeys could wait for the next day to resist any temptation that could lead them into patronising fleet operators at night.
The corps marshal warned that these deaths are not only avoidable and preventable but unacceptable hence the need for all to take caution.
“On our part, the Corps will continue to double its efforts by constantly engaging the motoring public nationwide, through aggressive awareness and sensitisation campaign, until the desired result is achieved”, he added.
Also, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced the death of its staff, Mr. Nuhu Hamman’Gabdo in a road accident.
Hamman ’Gabdo died alongside his wife, four children, his niece, and driver in an accident that occurred on Saturday, January 9, 2021 along Nasarawa-Abuja expressway while the deceased and his family were returning from his country home, Serti in Gashaka local government area of Taraba state.
Meanwhile, about 22 persons also lost their lives on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in two separate road accidents in Niger and Oyo states.
On Friday, January, 15, 2021, no fewer than 29 people died in road accidents that took place in Borno and Kogi states.
About 15 persons were sent to their early graves in a fatal road crash involving two buses along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road, Borno state on Friday.
The Borno sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Sanusi Ibrahim, confirmed this, noting that the accident occurred near Mainok village of Kaga local government area and that all the bodies had been taken to the General Hospital, Beneshiek, the headquarters of the government.
“I just got the report from our unit in Beneshiek that two Sharon buses carrying 15 passengers including the drivers were involved in a fatal collision and that all the 15 people in the two buses died.
“It involved seven males and eight females”, Ibrahim said.
According to him, the driver of the bus lost control because of a burst tyre leading to the collision.
He urged motorists to always observe the speed limit and other road safety regulations to minimise such fatal accidents.
Also, 14 people including five children lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident which occurred on Ayingba -Ajaokuta road in Kogi state.
The state sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Solomon Aghure, confirmed this.
He said three vehicles; two trucks and a passenger bus were involved in the accident which happened on the night of 14 January.
He said that the three vehicles were traveling on the same lane towards Ayingba when a truck suddenly hit the bus from behind and as a result of the impact hit the truck in its front.
According to him, those who died included three female children, two male children, eight women and one man.
The sector commander further explained that three men, one woman and five children, comprising two male children and three female children were lucky as they survived the accident with some injuries.
He said that the injured were taken to Holley Memorial Hospital, Ochadamu for treatment while bodies of the dead were deposited at the morgue of Grimard Hospital, Ayingba.
Aghure attributed the accident to a possible brake failure but said further investigation would be carried out to determine its actual cause.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter of 2020, the Federal Road Safety Corps recorded 3,947 road crashes and 1,758 deaths.
The corps public education officer, Bisi Kazeem, disclosed that the recorded deaths occurred between January and March 2020, adding that FRSC had not relented in its efforts at reducing carnage on the highways.
He said the deaths occurred in various routes within the country during the period.
“The 3,947 number of Road Traffic Crashes (RTC) recorded in the first quarter of 2020 involved 6,448 vehicles. Out of this number, 1,758 were killed and 11,250 were injured.
“Kaduna zone recorded the highest number of crashes, totaling 689 while Enugu zone recorded the lowest with 102 crashes”, he said.
Kazeem noted that the corps had adopted the three strategies of adequate public education, subtle enforcement and full enforcement to make motorists comply.
He said the FRSC had ensured full use of the services of the National Traffic Radio 107.1 FM, including its live stream on social media platforms to reach out to the motoring public.
He encouraged drivers to obey traffic laws and regulations and cooperate with traffic officers, as it was in their best interests and that of other road users.
Kazeem, however, urged passengers to properly check vehicles before boarding as many commercial vehicles are not road worthy.
In Kaduna state, there has been 81 road Crashes with 17 deaths in from January 1st 2021 till date.
According to the sector commander, FRSC, Kaduna state, Corps Commander Hafiz Mohammed Tarauni, the road crashes were mainly caused by overloading of vehicles, speed violation, loss of control and route violation (driving against traffic).
He also disclosed that within the period under review, 157 people were involved in the road crashes with 67 people sustaining various degrees of injuries and 17 deaths.
Although there may have been some other deaths occasioned by road rashes, he informed that the figures are the official records.
Similarly, in Abia state command, the public education officer (PEO), Chibunze Iroapali, said14 auto crashes were recorded in the state during the period.
Mr Iroapali said nine deaths were recorded while 59 sustained various degrees of injury, while a total of 118 persons were involved in the accidents.
He said the causes include driving under the influence of alcohol, over-speeding, and recklessness as well as use of vehicles without road-worthiness and bad road network.
He advocated a sustained extensive public enlightenment of road-users through the media and cooperation among the law enforcement agents to ensure compliance with the traffic regulations.
But in Akwa Ibom, the sector commander, Mr. Ochi Oga said the state recorded 40 road crashes and 8 deaths from January to December 2020
He said at the peak period in December 2020, eight crashes were recorded resulting into the death of 4 persons with 17 persons sustaining injuries.
Oge said the state only recorded 2 road crashes with no death in the New Year 2021.
“It is good to note that from January to December 2020, the state recorded a total of 40 road crashes, 8 fatalities and 17 persons injured.
“This figure even though low when compared to other states of the federation, cannot be an acceptable norm.
He attributed abandoned truck on the highway as one of the major cause of serious accident on the roads.
“All hands must be on deck to enable us record zero road traffic crashes in the state,” he said.
The sector commander assured that the FRSC would continue to work with strategic stakeholders to pursue public enlightenment programmes and aggressive enforcement of traffic rules to serve as a deterrent to traffic violators.
He, however, urged members of the public to remember the plight of families, friends of victims of road crashes and avoid infractions that undermine safety.
Also the state chief vehicle inspection officer, VIO said most road accidents occurred as a result of human error.
He explained that if drivers endeavor to abide by traffic rules and regulations the carnage on the road will be minimized.
Chairman of Akwa Ibom state road transport stakeholder’s association at Itam park Obong Emem said bad roads, over speeding and incessant armed robbery and banditry attacks on highway are major cause of accidents.
“We’ve tried to draw government’s attention to this issue of bad road to save people’s lives but it appears as if they don’t want to listen to us.
“If our roads especially major highways are in good condition, it will reduce the number of crashes but when over 79% of our roads are not motorable there is bound to be fatal accidents.”
Between January 1 and 21, 2021, a total of 11 persons were killed while 44 others were injured in motor accidents in Kwara state.
The number of people involved in auto accidents were 111 while 30 vehicles were involved in the accidents.
Fatal cases were four, serious cases were 14 and two minor cases.
Kwara state sector commander Jonathan Owoade attributed the auto crashes to speed violation and loss of concentration by the drivers. He advised motorists to adhere to speed limit regulations and concentrate while driving.
In Plateau state, the corps’s public education officer, Andrew Bala said the command constituted a special operation to monitor the roads from December 2020 to January 15th, 2021
He however said he could not give the number of accidents and casualties figure at the moment because he was on leave.
But a vehicle inspection officer, VIO, Mr Bulus Darong told LEADERSHIP however noted that over 80 percent of road accidents in the state are caused by human factors.
According to him, these factors include poor condition of vehicle, visibility, bad roads, reckless driving, unqualified and untrained drivers and among others.
Darong however advised the government at all level to ensure that roads are motorable, drivers should obey roads signs, and to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy, not to drive under the influence of alcohol and then make sure their vehicles tyres are in good shape.
In Taraba state, the government said it has documented roughly 15 accidents since the year began, while also recording seven deaths.
This was confirmed by the commissioner of transportation, Alhaji Adamu Ibrahim and the assistant road commandant of the Corps, Mr Okoduwa Paul.
Among the 15 accidents recorded, two were said to have claimed all the seven lives.
The devastating accident that claimed five lives occurred around Jalingo Yola road, where a Siena Bus collided with a Keke leaving five dead instantly and scores injured.
Two young men performing car drifting at about 2am on the1st January in celebration of the New Year also lost their lives while living others injured as their vehicle crashed.
Hon Ibrahim noted that no recorded accident has been taking since January outside the one above. He however said that though the ministry gives monthly accounts of road accidents, but at the moment, such meeting has not hold yet.
He further stated the causes of accidents on the highway are mostly to overloading, speed and reckless overtaking. He said the ministry has given directives to both the VIO and FRSC to double their efforts to address such reckless driving to prevent future occurrence.
On the other hand, Okoduwa Paul who spoke for FRSC, Taraba sector command said, the period between 1st January to now is still under review and they have just rounded up a special patrol operation named Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT). He said the command is yet to submit its final report, but admitted that15 accidents have so far been recorded in January.
Also speaking on the issue, the director of Road Traffic of the VIO, Umar D said the major causes of road accidents include reckless driving. He noted that the inspectorate has intensified its enlightenment campaign particularly on overloading, dangerous overtaking and consistent check on vehicle’s tires before mounting the highway.
Umar said the rate of accidents since January has been minimal compared to previous years and the agency is making strategic efforts to curb future accidents.
Meanwhile in Cross Rivers state, the road crashes since January stands at 23 with five fatalities (deaths).
Chief vehicle inspection officer (Chief VIO) in the state, Engr. Sir Paul Bepeh, said out of the 23 crashes, Calabar which is the capital city of the state recorded five with two fatalities. Other crashes include Akpabuyo LGA 3, Akamkpa 3 crashes, Boki LGA 3 crashes with two fatalities (deaths) on a motorbike, Ikom LGA 4 crashes, Obudu 1 crash whereas Ogoja LGA recorded 4 crashes with one death bringing the total number of road crashes to 23.
The Chief VIO enumerated factors responsible for road crashes to include; human error which according to him leads to death due to impatient on the part of motorists. He said the inability of drivers to consider other road users results in accident and death.
“Other factors also include, driving under the influence of alcohol, overloading, driving with worn out tires, and carelessness because some of them are just too confident of themselves.
“Drivers impatience can be seen as being responsible for many accident cases in the state”, Bepeh stressed.
On how to prevent further accidents, the Chief VIO called for continuously education of drivers stressing that when that is done, in due course stringent measures like punching and confiscation of driver’s license.
However, when LEADERSHIP paid a visit to the state command, the sector commander, Mr. Ofordu Cyprian, said compilation of the number of road crashes and fatalities for the month of January was on-going while assuring the statistics would be ready by February.
Edo state has recorded not fewer than 15 deaths in two separate road accidents in the month of January.
One of the accidents involving a Mercedes Benz rammed into six children who were playing football in a compound in Arue, Uromi in Esan North-East local government area, while trying to escape a pothole.
The other accident, which claimed nine lives, involved four vehicles in the Agbede, Etsako West local government area.
Edo state sector commander, Henry Benamaisa, had explained that the accident in Agbede was a multiple one adding that it involved one tanker carrying petroleum product, a truck, and two vehicles.
“One of the vehicles was a Toyota Sienna. It was caused by brake failure on the part of the tanker and over speeding on the part of the other vehicles. Nine persons died instantly.”
Meanwhile, the command disclosed that the state recorded 254 road traffic crashes in 2020 adding that by the figure collated, 87 were fatal, 130 serious and 37 minor crashes.
Benamaisia who disclosed this in a chat with LEADERSHIP in Benin also said the command arrested no fewer than 2,594 traffic offenders in 2020.
“The sector command recorded 179 deaths, with 608 persons sustaining various degrees of injury.
“A total of 1,718 persons were involved in road traffic crashes in that year and this is higher when compared with the 2019 road traffic crash statistics.”
Benamaisia noted that the behaviour of road users was an important determinant of a country’s road safety performance.
He urged motorists to be careful, tolerant and imbibe defensive driving culture always.
Benamaisia said that the traffic offenders were arrested in connection with 3,308 offences, and that about 906 of them were prosecuted in the mobile court for various offences during the period under review.
He further said that 834 of those prosecuted were convicted while 72 were discharged.
The sector commander stated that 446 public enlightenment campaigns were carried out in the state in the same year.