Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the 2017 World Day of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims. Road safety stakeholders during the event emphasized the need for prompt response by first aiders to victims of road traffic crashes to enhance the possibility of survival and prospect of quick recovery. This was the consensus of the speakers during the joint press conference organized to commemorate the 2017 African Road Safety Day/World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic Crashes held at the National Press Centre, Radio House Abuja.
In his welcome address, the National Focal Person of the United Nations Decade of Action For Road Safety and Injury Prevention in Nigeria, Dr Sydney Ibeanus, traced the background of the day to Resolutions of the African Union Executive and United Nations General Assembly 2005 and 2012 respectively. The Resolutions, he said, emphasized the need for members of the public to be made aware of the menace of road traffic crashes and the burdens which victims of road crash and their families go through, noting that with such awareness, those living would be cautioned to use the road with safety consciousness.
Dr Ibeanus disclosed that most victims of road traffic crashes come from developing economies of the world like Nigeria, where economic losses arising from road crashes have risen up to 5% of the GDP, translating into billions of Dollars per annum. He warned that if appropriate measures are not taken by relevant stakeholders to avert the menace, the fatality rate of the crashes could increase by 65% by 2020, saying the Remembrance Day should be seen as a wakeup call for all stakeholders to join hands in addressing the challenges of road carnage in the continent.
In his welcome remarks, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi who was represented by the Deputy Corps Marshal in charge of Motor Vehicle Administration, Theophilus Charles, commended the stakeholders for their commitment to the campaigns for safer road environment in Nigeria. According to him, third Sunday of November every year was dedicated to the commemoration of the African Road Safety Day/World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic Crashes in response to the growing cases of road traffic crashes in many countries of the continent. He noted that the choice of the theme for this year’s commemoration, ‘2020 Target: Reduce Road Fatalities and Serious Injuries by 50%,” was to enable the stakeholders double their efforts towards the attainment of the goals of the United Nations Decade of Action For Road Safety: 2020, which sets out to reduce the rate and fatalities of road traffic crashes by 50% by the year 2020.
Oyeyemi further assured that FRSC is committed to attaining the goals of the UN Decade of Action For Road Safety through a number of programmes it has initiated. These, he said includes safe corridor projects and introduction of Nigeria Road Safety Strategy document [(NRSS) 2016-2020] with the inauguration of National Road Safety Advisory Council (NaRSAC) under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as a clear direction towards achieving the vision of road safety in line with the Safe System Approach. Others he said are data harmonization with stakeholders under National Committee on Crash Report Information System (NACRIS) for a unified data system in the country; Weekly public enlightenment and sensitization campaign for pedestrian and motorists on the dangers inherent in the abuse of road traffic regulations and sensitization campaign on installation of speed limiters as well as use of expired /worn-out tyres.
The Corps Marshal further disclosed that as part of the activities lined up to mark this year’s event, are laying of wreaths at the FRSC National Headquarters Abuja; joint road show/Rally; Convocation of victims’ forum; Juma’at service at the National Mosque Abuja, and Central Mosques across the country; visitation to hospitals by the President and members of the Road Safety Officers’ Wives Association (ROSOWA). He further noted that the event would terminate on Sunday through Church Service at Methodist Church Abuja to be replicated in various churches nationwide. He warned against reckless use of the road by motorists and urged members of the public to join in the campaign in the collective efforts to make the nation’s roads safer.
In his keynote address, the Governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki, who was the Special Guest of Honour, commended the organizers on the awareness initiatives, saying road safety is a collective responsibility all. He called on members of the public to remain committed to the campaign. The Governor canvassed the establishment of more roadside clinics especially at the identified crash-prone areas to ensure prompt response and administration of professional first aid to crash victims.
He promised to present road safety as a main agenda before the Governors’ Forum to ensure that governors take necessary measures that would ensure safety on roads within their areas. Obaseki also invited the Corps Marshal to make another road safety presentation to the Governors’ forum as part of the continuing efforts to educate them on issues of road safety, pointing out that the consciousness created by his earlier presentation towards the approval of the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy Document should be sustained for a holistic national strategy against road carnage in Nigeria.
The Minister of State, Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who delivered a goodwill message at the occasion, lamented on the increasing rate and fatalities of road traffic crashes on the nation’s highways, giving example of what was recorded along Kaduna-Abuja road when the Abuja Airport was closed down temporarily to allow for its rehabilitation. He therefore warned that, if appropriate measures are not taken by relevant stakeholders to address the growing menace of road traffic crashes in the countries, more lives of road users would continue to be lost to the carnage.
Other speakers who delivered goodwill messages at the occasion were the representatives of the Ministers of Works, Power and Housing, that of Transport and FCT all of who expressed solidarity with the global initiatives and assured that their ministries would continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to address the challenges of road traffic crashes in taking measures that could support road safety and security of lives and property of road travelers.
Highlight of the event was the decoration of the Governor of Edo state as Road Safety Ambassador by the Minister of Health. The programme which attracted stakeholders from the Ministries, Department and Agencies including the security agencies, transport unions and private sector as well as international organizations was well attended by members of the public.