The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) recently launched an advocacy campaign for the ‘Ember Months’, a period which represents the peak of human and vehicular movements ahead of the end of year festivities including Christmas and New Year.
Millions of people move from one part of the country to another in order to celebrate the festivities with their families and acquaintances.
These age-long seasonal movements are usually associated with increased road traffic crashes and traffic management problems; prompting men and officers of the FRSC to embark on a nationwide advocacy campaign and special patrols which ideally should translate into hitch-free journeys, free flow of traffic and drastic reductions in road traffic crashes nationwide.
But sadly, despite their interventions, this period is notoriously known for high rate of accidents with attendant loses of lives and property.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti on November 9 during the 2018 ember months’ campaign tagged: ‘Safe Driving, Saves Lives,’ the Corps Marshall of FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, said the FRSC would no longer tolerate unwarranted deaths of Nigerians owing to recklessness on the part of some road users.
Oyeyemi immediately ordered a conduct of eye test on road users to make the ember months free of accidents.
“The corps is going to be strict on its conduct of vision acuity tests to make sure all drivers on the roads do not have defective sight. Responsibility equally falls on the other traffic agencies to collaborate with FRSC to achieve this task,” he said.
According to him, in the months of September to December in 2017, the total number of crashes recorded was 2,805, which claimed 1,602 lives and involved 4,503 vehicles.
He attributed the crashes to the struggle on the part of most people travelling to meet their loved ones; more trips on the part of commercial drivers to make more money in preparation for the yuletide without adequate rest as responsible for the road mishaps.
Though commendable, we are however constrained to observe that while the FRSC always look forward to ember months to launch road safety campaigns, the agency is practically deviating from its corps mandate of ensuring safety to a money generating agency.
FRSC was established in response to the unpleasant trend in the nation’s road traffic system which resulted in upsurge in road traffic accidents.
In February 1988, the Federal Government established the Federal Road Safety Commission through Decree No. 45 of 1988 as amended by Decree 35 of 1992 referred to in the statute books as the FRSC Act cap 141 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), passed by the National Assembly as Federal Road Safety Corps (establishment) Act 2007.
It was charged with statutory responsibilities for road safety administration and management in all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT by making the highways safe for motorists and other road users as well as checking road worthiness of vehicles, recommending works and infrastructures to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways and educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of road discipline on the highways.
Sadly, all the above have been pushed to the background as officers and men of the corps spend over 90 per cent of their time causing serious traffic holdups while asking for drivers’ license and vehicle particulars which is the core mandate of Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs).
The operatives have surreptitiously abandoned road safety issues despite the fact that they have more equipment than other agencies. It is very common to see FRSC operatives looking the other way while heavy truck drivers and articulated vehicles violate every traffic rule by installing intimidating lights in front of their cars that confuse other road users.
While we wish Nigerians accident free season, we strongly call on the FRSC to retrace its steps, stop veering off from its core mandate and concentrate on road safety issues to save lives.