By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA — As the Christmas and New Year celebrations draw nearer, the Federal Government yesterday issued a stern warning to drivers and other road users to exercise patience and abide by highways rules and regulations to avoid mad rush, which had often led to premature deaths of promising citizens during such festive period.

Minister of Works, Senator Sanusi Mohammed Daggash, who issued the warning in Abuja, blamed the rising incidence of road crashes in the country on drivers’ indiscipline, ignorance, impatience, and lack of respect and common courtesy for other road users.

The minister regretted that such anomalies had contributed in no small measure to the rising number of accidents on our roads, adding: “It is saddening to note that drivers continue to over-speed, not minding road condition and hazards. This mad rush has often led to the premature deaths of many promising citizens.

“I remain astounded when I see drivers creating multiple lanes on main roads and at intersections as if there was an award for the first vehicle out of the blocks. The resultant consequence is road chaos and it is to the detriment of other road users who obey the basic rules of driving and maintain road etiquette.

“As the holiday season begins, it is important to re-iterate the need for all haulage operators to exercise restraint from over-loading their trucks and trailers as these inimical actions remain the major cause of rapid road failure. The existing road network is not designed to carry such heavy axle loads.

“The Federal Government, mindful of the critical role road transportation contributes to the national economy and the need to ensure that road transportation is undertaken in a safe and reliable manner, continues to embark on massive road construction and critical rehabilitation works across the country.

On the current state of the nation’s highways, he said, “progress on many of the on_going projects were severely hampered by the heavy rains during the rainy season, however, as many as thirteen (13) road projects are now ready for commissioning while six (6) others should be completed before the end of January 2011.

“The Abuja to Lokoja dualisation project is receiving new impetus and attention; the rehabilitation of the Shagamu to Benin road is also being fast tracked as the construction companies have received assurances of cooperation from the impacted States. Other critical roads across the country are receiving attention.

“In order to safeguard the roads from rapid deterioration due to excessive axle load, the Federal Ministry of Works has embarked on the installation of weighbridges on highways across the country. Vehicles found culpable will pay a fine and the excess load will be offloaded at the weighbridge plaza.

“I wish to use this medium to appeal to all road users and cable laying construction companies to exercise due diligence and care in the use of the road network and avoid inimical actions that cause other road users discomfort and are capable of reducing the design life span of the road network.

“I wish to thank the President of the Federal Republic, Dr Goodluck E Jonathan for his unrelenting support, as well as my colleagues in the Federal Executive Council, the National Assembly, Police, FRSC, VIO, the Road Transport Unions and the various stakeholders for their understanding.

“The Federal Ministry of Works remains fully committed to deliver on its mandate to build a quality road network and provide timely maintenance of existing roads across the country.”

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