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How deaths, losses on highways can be  minimised

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Sam Emehelu

On Thursday, June 28, 2018, one of the deadliest truck-fire accidents of the year happened on the ‘Otedola” bridge, a major access point in and out of Nigeria’s biggest commercial city, Lagos.

Casualty count: 54 vehicles, 12 lives, several injured persons and valuables on the spot.

Like many other accidents that involved 5, 121 persons the previous year, no one can put exact figures to the economic cost of those fatalities but the figures have been on the rise no thanks to the increasing deterioration of Nigeria’s most burdened infrastructure: the road.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the country’s statutory agency, responsible for safety on the road, has been taking counts of late and says over N1billion worth of goods were spilt and damaged in the course of 2018 due to truck accidents.

At a meeting in Lagos recently to unveil a partnership to cut the loss, Hyginus Omeje, Corps Sector Commander of FRSC Lagos State said: “The human factor in road accidents is fundamental. Lack of traffic education and a basic understanding of the consequences of careless driving, improper driving training and training in road and safety procedures, are the most significant factors contributing to traffic accidents. Hence, driver education and training programmes are the highest priority in Nigeria.”

Omeje’s comment is in admittance that attention given to training demands some measure of professionalism from truck drivers was one of the key strategies to reduce accidents.

Globally, one of the countries that have championed truck incidences is Austria and the FRSC is seeking how it can leverage the expertise to cut down the many side effects of fatalities.

“The root of this may be traceable to the fact that there is no proper assessment process to truck drivers’ expertise before they are issued driver’s license,” Omeje noted.

“Most Nigerian truck drivers are schooled by experienced colleagues with inadequate training, after years of serving as ‘motor boys.’ We are working at stopping that and helping to build a standard that can cut down on accidents considerably.”

The CEO of Austrian Technologies Nigeria Limited (ATN), Mr. Johann Rieger said that the outfit was already working at partnership that would set up a world-class Drivers’ Safety Training and Certification (DSTC) for commercial and professional drivers in Nigeria in collaboration with Test & Training International (TTI) – the world leading drivers’ safety training company.

According to him, “besides, hundreds of new high-skill and attractive working places and extensive know-how transfer, society will benefit in general by the reduction of the number of accidents – fatalities and injuries. Transport corporations will benefit, as a result of the decrease in the loss of manpower, damaged vehicles and/or lost of goods and reduction of insurance premiums. Additionally, they will be able to employ drivers that are certified, based on international standards. Insurance companies will benefit from huge savings in accident-related compensations.”

Road transportation accounts for over 90 per cent of human mobility and haulage needs in Nigeria. About 53 per cent or 6.7 million out of a total of 12.5 million vehicles in operation in Nigeria are commercial vehicles. The number of commercial vehicle drivers, an emergency vehicle (police, ambulance, firefighters), governmental, army, and diplomatic drivers in Nigeria is estimated to be around 20 million.

The first of the DSTC centres is proposed to be built in Lagos, followed by Kaduna, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. The long-term goal is to cover the entire country.



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