But at the end, we fail because of poor and bad implementations, misplaced priorities, disrespect by the affluence and privileged circumstances. Geographically, Nigeria covers a wide expanse of land requiring that we should have adequate to enough road networks to serve the exploding population.
Unfortunately, we are still contending with most of the major roads put in place by our colonial masters, narrow and squeezing. Our supposedly ultra modern roads, built from the 1970s, are not particularly wonderful and some of them are death traps. Our people are being killed on them in thousands every year and we are not bothered.
To manage these roads and our road users, our policy makers came up with different programmes and agencies including, but not limited to, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, all kinds of both state and local government traffic control programmes and personnel, yet lives are lost on our roads in thousands because of our carelessness and lackadaisical behaviours.
The paradigm shift from our narrow colonial roads to ultra modern roads of the 1970s and all the traffic control programmes and personnel associated with them are nothing but false paradigm.
This is not to criticize the programmes because it is not good and appreciated when criticized, but criticism is healthy when it attracts changes and developments. If we want growth and changes in these programmes, we must all get involved, speak with one voice and move towards one goal and would not allow any distraction or divides in the programmes.
The programmes are good, but poorly implemented and heavily influenced by the privileged.
The questions are: What are the jobs of the FRSC, the FERMA, all the state and local government traffic control programmes and personnel while we have:
*Pot holes on almost all our roads, except, maybe, inside the AbujaCapitalCity.
*Our major roads bridges are collapsing and without protective handrails and vehicles are falling inside them.
*The hauling trailers plying our roads on daily basis go through hundreds of FRSC and police control posts with incomplete tires and tilted consignments and most times, overloaded.
*Vehicles ply our roads with worn-out tires and, in most cases, blown tires.
*Commercial buses, fuel tankers and trailer drivers excessively speed on our roads as if they are on race tracks and in most cases, some of them have inadequate and functional brakes.
*Touts block both federal and local roads extorting money from road users, collecting money from some of us and in most cases, radio fees. On federal roads?
*Commercial vehicles and motorcycles block our roads with impunity.
*Crashed vehicles are left on accident scenes for hours, if not days and in most case, causing more accidents.
*Corpses litter our roads and no one bothers to remove them and /or look for their family members.
*Sick and mad people roam our roads, sleep on bridges and sidewalks without humanitarian assistance. We must remember that these people belong in shelters and not on our roads and highways.
*Panhandlers, sick, and especially people with leprosy, form colonies along our roads and major highways.
*Hawkers turn our roads and major highways into commercial heaven, roasting and selling yam or plantains in very poor sanitary conditions. Most times, some of their products are infected and inducing diarrhea in our road users who patronise them. We are not afraid of hepatitis and other infectious diseases that could easily be transmitted through those merchants and their products.
The truth is that, some of these programmes were created to alleviate our pains and sufferings; however, they have, themselves, turned into nuisance and causing us more headaches. For instance, the FRSC, the VIO and a few others, take undue advantage of the provisions of the law.
They block the roads and impede traffic flow, especially during heavy rush hour traffic. Reasonably, at such times when the traffic should be flowing, no right thinking person should block the roads, and to dampen the matter, they do not have standardised procedures of checking whatever they look for and if they do, they are not coordinated.
It has been commonly observed that when these agencies, especially the FRSC personnel appear on accident scenes, that they are pr-occupied with damages to our cars and vehicles instead of the state (safety) of the occupants of the vehicles which should be their initial and primary responsibility.
Safety of the occupants of the accident vehicles and around the scene must come first before property damages to our expensive vehicles. Although, one may not completely blame them because we are living in a society consumed by influence and material powers.
We are living in a society where people drive recklessly undermining the legal rights of other road users and when accidents occur, the unprivileged suffers because they do not have the voice to protect them.
They drive cheap and beaten up cars disrespected by our controlling authorities. They do not have the courage to shout, “Oh! My car, do you know who I am?” Or: “Do you know who my father is?”
The laws and our programmes, in most part, favour the bad guys who are reckless and could easily intimidate the other road users and agencies monitoring the roads and the road users. Our city bus drivers are in the world of their own and without control.
They excessively speed, run the road shoulders and, most times, overloaded.
*Mr. BONS OBIADI, an architect, wrote from Lagos.