Road World Ranking: Nigeria 191 out of 192

Like everything else in our national underdevelopment, our roads have been rated among the most deplorable in the world. According to Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Osita Chidoka, at the 2011 Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals’ Conference in Warri, “Nigeria is currently 191st out of 192 countries of the world’s ‘unsafe’ roads”.

In the estimate of the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1.3 million people are killed in road accidents and 50 million suffer various injuries annually while over 80 percent of reported cases occur in developing countries, with African countries recording the highest number of deaths. Nigeria, as usual, takes its worrisome ‘pride’ of place among the countries with the highest number of road accidents. Unacceptable is the fact that all available data of auto crashes indicate that, at least, 162 persons out of 100,000 Nigerians are regular victims. This calls for serious concern by the federal and state governments.

Road accidents are inevitable but they can be reduced to the barest minimum. The alarming rate of road accidents in Nigeria needs to be curtailed. The pity of it all is that, to ordinary Nigerians and members of the international community, deaths on Nigerian roads are as common as the fresh air that we breathe. What is not common knowledge is that Nigeria occupies the top position among the most dangerous countries in the world, with respect to highway calamities – 191 out of 192 or second to the last, which is almost at the very top of the list of dangerous countries in this regard. Unfortunately, this negative and hopeless ranking is a common phenomenon in all spheres of our lives.

Trillions of Naira had been spent on Nigerian roads since 1999 with little or no result. The rich, especially government functionaries, hardly use these roads as they fly most of the time to and from their destinations. Paradoxically, road accidents are more common and more ghastly even on good roads, than on the bad ones, owing to reckless driving, excessive speeding and lack of understanding of how to use the roads, mostly by illiterate and semi-illiterate drivers.

Moreover, more than half of those driving on Nigerian roads do not have genuine driver’s licences, which means they were not subjected to rigorous driving tests. The role of the police has compounded the matter. Policemen who are not required to perform the duty of traffic officers abound on our roads, often collecting bribes from vehicle owners and sometimes resulting in accidents at the check-points. When that happens, the policemen disappear into the bush.

Vehicles that are not roadworthy even carry overloaded goods and passengers.  Apart from the problem created on our roads by greedy and undisciplined policemen, there is the attitude of drivers which probably accounts for more than half of accidents on good and bad roads. Impatience and greed to make quick money by commercial drivers account for most of them. And when you add the danger created by articulated vehicles, most of them unfit for the road; the careless and reckless driving and indiscriminate parking by their often drunk drivers and stationary vehicles, the high incidence of ghastly accidents on our roads becomes a foregone conclusion.

That we cannot manage our roads, prevent or minimise accidents is perfectly consistent with our numerous failures as a nation. That is why some people think that Nigeria could better be described as a failed state, and that precisely is what our ranking as 191st out 192 countries having the world’s most unsafe roads seems to have proven beyond reasonable doubt.

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