Reform or Merge FRSC; HURIWA Decries High Road Accident Death Toll in Nigeria

Reform or Merge FRSC; HURIWA Decries High Road Accident Death Toll in Nigeria

Press Release: The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) is deeply alarmed and profoundly disturbed by the incessant rise in road traffic crashes (RTCs) and the escalating death toll on Nigeria’s perilous roads, as revealed by the recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics. These shocking statistics are not merely numbers; they represent a staggering loss of precious human lives.

According to the report, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has vowed to reduce road accidents by a mere five percent. These words, while commendable, remain hollow and ineffectual in the face of a catastrophic 6.01 percent increase in RTCs from the previous quarter. The evidence is clear: the FRSC’s efforts have fallen woefully short, and it is a vote of no confidence in their ability to curb this menace.

The FRSC’s inadequacies are glaring. Despite Corps Marshal/CEO Dauda Biu’s assurances of improving data collection and analysis, the situation on Nigerian roads has not improved significantly. The figures do not lie: 4,387 lives were lost in RTCs within the first half of 2023, and this is an intolerable reality. The blame lies squarely on the FRSC’s failure to enforce traffic laws effectively and equitably.

The extortionist tendencies of some traffic enforcement agencies, especially in states like Lagos and Ogun, demonstrate a fundamental problem that urgently needs addressing. While private vehicle owners are harassed, commercial vehicle operators, who are often the worst traffic violators, operate with impunity. This inequity only exacerbates the perilous conditions on our roads.

Furthermore, the deplorable state of the nation’s roads is a significant contributing factor to these accidents. The report correctly highlights the presence of potholes, slippery bumps, and untarred roads. This state of infrastructure is not only a danger to road users but also a death trap. It is a resounding failure of governance that must be addressed without further delay.

The report also underscores the need for better vehicle maintenance, discouraging recklessness among drivers, combating driving under the influence, and addressing the menace of phone usage while driving. The absence of road safety education, paired with a culture of excessive speeding, compounds these issues. It is high time the government demonstrates a serious commitment to reducing RTCs.

Children and young adults are among the most affected by road accidents, a harrowing statistic that should concern us all. The World Health Organization’s figures are a stark reminder that road accidents take a devastating toll on human lives, with up to 3.0 percent of Nigeria’s GDP lost to these preventable tragedies.

HURIWA believes it is time for a seismic shift in approach to road safety in Nigeria. We call on the Federal and State Governments to take decisive action. The FRSC must intensify its enforcement efforts, with transparency and integrity, free from corruption and extortion.

States must invest in professionalizing, equipping, funding, and motivating their traffic management agencies. Only a handful of states have shown this commitment, and it is high time the rest follow suit. The FRSC should restrict its focus to federal roads while cooperating with state agencies.

Moreover, we urge the government to prioritize the maintenance of existing roads and the construction of new ones. Vehicle insurance must be reformed and rigorously enforced, and road safety laws must be upheld without exception.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) calls on the Federal Government to take immediate action. The high death rates are a clear vote of no confidence in the FRSC. We demand reform, or the consideration of unbundling or merging the FRSC with the Police Force. The status quo is untenable, and the lives of our citizens are at stake.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*

National Coordinator

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