By DAUD OLATUNJI, Abeokuta
Last December, most motorists and commuters in Ogun State were thrown into panic mode, no thanks to the numerous road crashes with attendant loss of lives witnessed during the period. To worsen the fear of travellers in the Gateway State, a truck rammed into some students who were crossing the road in Itori on their way back home after school hours.
Another shocking tragic incident resulted from a bus which plunged into a river leading to the drowning of 22 women who were on their way to a burial ceremony.
The fear arising from these incidents was heightened when the Federal Road Safety Corps released the statistics of death in eleven months on Ogun and Lagos roads which was scary.
According to the Zonal Commanding Officer of the Federal Road Safety Corps, RS2, Lagos and Ogun states, Mr. Ademola Lawal, 1,341 accidents occurred in the two states between January and November 2012.
But Vanguard Metro was informed that the road crashes with the attendant scary statistics of deaths recorded would have been worse if the state Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps, TRACE, had not been in place to take proactive action to prevent more deaths during the festive period of Christmas and the New Year. The Corps Commander, Mr. Ayo Sangofadeji disclosed that in the event, over 105 erring drivers were arrested and enrolled in a day school of orientation.
Sangofadeji stated this in Abeokuta during an orientation and enlightenment programme organised for drivers and union leaders in the State. Speaking shortly after he supervised the conduct of motorists plying Oke-Mosan /Governor’s Office road, Sangofadeji said that TRACE resolved to introduce orientation school as part of punitive measures against any erring driver, apart from payment of fines, so as to curb incessant accidents on the roads.
He recommended that part of the solutions to incessant accidents recorded in the state was for the drivers to effect a behaviour change through using the passengers as supervisors of those drivers. He said: “We discovered that payment of fines by offending drivers was not enough to make them have behavioural change needed for safe motoring culture. Many drivers we arrested have been taken to a school where they were given proper orientation. It is not only payment of fines that we introduced, we educate erring drivers when they were caught for contravening traffic laws.
“When you come into the system of resolution in 2013, we want part of that resolution to be the call of safety so that we can achieve so many things in 2013 and of course, if we can avoid carelessness that result into untimely death on our roads then we can achieve those things in the years ahead”.
Speaking on the impression in some quarters that December is a monster month when many lives are lost, the Special Assistant to Governor Ibikunle Amosun on Transport, Mr Bimbo Aknisanwo said: “That’s definitely not true. The most important thing we celebrate in December is the birth of Christ and if Christians believe that Christ was sent to this world to redeem mankind then December cannot be a bad month.
“Accidents in December are self-created. A lot of activities happen in December. People are usually in a hurry, they want to go to three parties, whereas, they are ought to go to just one. A whole lot of government offices and even private sectors nowadays are shut down after a particular date. And so there is lot of travelling over the period. You have many more people on the road all at the same time. So, the road is congested.
“What that tells you is that you have to give yourself enough time to set out so that you don’t start rushing. It also means that you need to reduce your speed. When you have the road free, that is when you can say you want to drive 100km/h. When there are more vehicles on the road, there is nothing wrong in you reducing your speed to 60km/h. And so it’s when people rush around the place, throwing caution to wind that translate into an accident”.
Also commenting on the issue, Chairman, Temidire Tipper Lorry Association, Ota, Babatunde Ajayi, said part of the strategy adopted by members of the Association was to ensure no truck driver makes more than one trip per day. He said: “When accidents became too much, we told all our drivers that they must only make one trip a day. Since we started that, there has not been any accident”.