The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) recently announced plans to soon enforce the installation of speed limiters in private vehicles across the country. Confirming this to newsmen, the Public Education Officer of the Corps Mr Bisi Kazeem also admitted that the process would be preceded by a widespread consultation with and sensitization of stake holders across the country.
Mr Kazeem explained that the exercise of installing speed limiters on vehicles was initiated to reduce speed related accidents and associated deaths on Nigerian highways. The exercise was introduced in 2016, while enforcement commenced February 1st 2017 with articulated vehicles. Commercial vehicles were added later. The latest aspect of the exercise is to extend it to private vehicles, as is being envisaged. On the level of compliance by vehicle operators with the exercise, Mr Kazeem described it as impressive.
To justify the merit in its introduction of the speed limiters to Nigerian roads, the FRSC cites remarkable figures on reduction in speed related auto crashes across Nigerian roads. Citing that over-speeding accounts for about 50% of all road accidents and associated deaths in Nigeria alone vindicates the Corps over the introduction of the device. Just as well is the phased enforcement of the device in categories of vehicles commendable, as it would avail the Corps the opportunity to learn from whatever experience it acquires from one stage to facilitate improved performance at the next level.
The foregoing notwithstanding, experience with the FRSC also demonstrates that it is plagued with a tradition of starting road safety schemes with significant pomp and fanfare, only to flag down at the level of implementation. Against the backdrop of same issue therefore, public concern over the successful implementation of the speed limiter exercise remains high. For reasons that border on systemic incontinences the Corps may consequently need to apply some measure of discretion to tidy up its in-house operational expedients before launching into the enforcement of speed limiters on private vehicles.
In the first place is the primary issue of installation, which the Corps admits will be carried out not by itself but accredited private sector agents. Reported experiences by the current operators of articulated and other commercial vehicles confirm the inadequacy of installed capacity of these accredited installers of speed limiters leading to several eligible vehicles suffering from long operational down-time in their businesses, while waiting for service from the installers. Also problematic is the issue of standardisation of the available speed limiters in the market, as the private sector installers are driven by the motive of maximizing profit and easily supply the cheapest varieties to patrons. Another factor is that of price which without the control of the FRSC exposes the vehicle owner to sharp practices by some of the installers.
The cumulative effects of these aforementioned factors along with the sheer quantum of vehicles to be installed with speed limiters already account for the limited success of the Corps in terms of administering the installation of speed limiters. As at the last quarter of 2017 the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported the total number of vehicles in the country as 11,547,236 comprising 4,656,725 privately owned and operated; 6,749,461 commercial; 135,216 government owned and 5834 diplomatic vehicles. If out of these millions of vehicles the Corps can only boast of installing fewer speed limiters in less than a million vehicles after three years of the exercise, its prospects for success are nothing but bleak.
Therefore, the contemplation of the FRSC to add the burden of installing speed limiters to all private vehicles in the country at this time, when it is overwhelmed by the commercial ones is simply wishful thinking.