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EDITORIAL

Ridding our roads of abandoned vehicles

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NIGERIA’S football community was thrown into mourning on a fateful Sunday in March 2020, when a promising Rangers International FC  star, Ifeanyi  George rammed his sedan car into a stationary lorry along Abudu town along the Onitsha-Agbor- Benin road. His death and that of two others cut short some promising careers in their primes.

   SUCH has been the fate of many who perished on our highways due to one avoidable accident or the other  but of much concern is the carnage broken-down vehicles cause on our roads.

AGREED that poor infrastructural state of our roads  contributes to much of the vehicles’ breakdown, abandoning them on the roadsides have caused more havoc  than the bad road itself. This is given the fact that in a typical bad road scenario, road users or motorists are compelled to access the damaged spots cautiously in very slow and careful manner which reduces the risks caused by such factors as over speeding and reckless driving  that had been a major cause of mishaps in the highways. As studies have shown,  though bad conditions of the road cause occasions of accident, it is motorists and road users’ attitude that ultimately lead to bad ends.

ANAMBRA State, for example, boasts of the most elaborate road networks in Nigeria currently given  its nest of trunks A, B and C routes across the 21 local councils.  Surprisingly, the gains of the robust network  of vehicular access roads in the state have not been fully utilised given some  attitudes of road users that had led to bad traffic situation and even a number of deaths to many. Very disheartening is the fact that some of the incidents were avoidable had there been a more careful approach.

FROM Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State to Awka, the state capital,  a number of accidents attributable to indiscriminate parking of long vehicles on the highway have been recorded.

ON Sunday, July 18, 2021, a lorry laden with gas rammed into another parked lorry by the roadside at Tarzan area of Onitsha, in the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, sparking a huge inferno that destroyed several vehicles parked by the roadside among other damages by the expressway such as  Ifeanyichukwu workshop, burning down over 18 luxurious buses in the process.

Another heartbreaking incident involved a  L300 Mitsubishi bus which bumped  into a stationary articulated lorry at the Nteje section of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway on August 5, 2021,  leaving the Mitsubishi in a wreckage that would have made any survivor from the bus a miracle of sort.

A SIENNA commercial bus collided with a Hummer bus within the Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area  area  of the same highway in the second week of August, with several people badly injured.

IN another development, on August 26, 2021, a Shuttle bus rammed into a container body lorry (caravan) along Umuoji – Ojoto Road in Idemili South Local Government Area after an evening downpour, killing the shuttle bus driver on the spot.

THE  SE  are only some  of the many cases that occur on the various roads, some even happening without being officially reported.

WHILE it is easy to ask whether drivers of the ill-fated motors do have requisite driving experience, it is pertinent to ask those who leave their vehicles on roadsides, especially at the night  without sufficient danger signals what they have in mind.

UNDERSTANDABLY, vehicles could breakdown at any point in time and place but letting such vehicle  constitute danger to other road users is indeed unacceptable. Suffice it to say that there is no justification for leaving a broken-down vehicle in the middle of the road or wrong side of the road for hours and in some cases, for several  days.

QUESTIONS that agitate the mind are what the society has in place in the event of such occurrence. Also, is it solely the responsibility of authorities and agents of government to detect places of such incidents, evacuate the affected vehicle and as frequently as within minutes or at least hour. where such dangerous stationary vehicles are left for long periods,  sanction those culpable of flouting safe road use regulations by  abandoning  of their broken down vehicles at highly risky points of the public roads? Road Safety agencies, Police and health authourities should have active and alert patrol teams with keen interests in saving lives and making roads free of obstacles. they should have provisions for emergency rescues and  help to those who accidentally had their vehicles broken down on the way and may be in harm’s way themselves.

Any society that primes security of life and property of its citizen should take cognisance of emergencies. This implies that a person whose vehicle is considered roadworthy but had it broken-down on the way should have a specified time to evacuate it from the road. This does not preclude very conspicuous hazard signal to be displayed meters to the scene as traffic law stipulates to   give on coming vehicles sufficient warning of potential dangers ahead.

Road management agencies should have published contacts so that at times of need for remedial effort, a call could be put to mobilise towing assistance.  Such agencies must as a matter of necessity, be on regular monitoring exercise across the length and breadth of the roads to effect quick rescue mission where necessary. It is not enough for road safety agencies to mobilise rescue operations only on accident scenes when and where the prevention is possible.

IT IS important that a toll-free emergency number be provided by authorities concerned and adequate sensitisation be carried out to get road users informed of the services and other novel ideas that can improve road transportation.

NATIONAL Light believes that tactical approach can stem the incident of man-made road accidents while keeping the road free from encumbrances is one step towards achieving the goal.

IT IS equally our view that the roads should be well marked where possible and road users more sensitised on road signs and safety regulations. Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), road maintenance agencies (federal and state), Vehicles Inspection Officers and other relevant authourities should rise up to their responsibilities and make our roads safer.

NIGHT travels should be discouraged as risks are heightened at such times. Travelers should be made to value their lives over time and refrain from night journey, given the level of road dilapidations in many parts of the country, as well as personal security issues. Nigeria cannot afford to lose her human resources in avoidable circumstances, therefore, keeping our roads less prone to mishaps should be given priority attention by all concerned.

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