By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate Tuesday condemned in very strong terms, the level of illiteracy among private and public drivers, saying that a vast majority of drivers employed to drive in official capacity either in public or private sector in Nigeria cannot read and write.
According to the Senate, these drivers do not possess the necessary qualification to consider them employable, just as it stressed that they have little or no knowledge of semiotic signs that guide the use of roads.
Against this backdrop the Senate, mandated its Committee on Transport to as a matter of urgency, summon Government Establishments and other stakeholders that are responsible for safety on all the roads across the country to ensure that Drivers employed in any capacity at all must possess the necessary qualification in addition to being able to read, write and communicate effectively in English language.
Resolutions of the Upper Chamber were sequel to a motion by Senator Umaru Kurfi, APC, Katsina Central and entitled, “Need to address the low level of literacy amongst drivers in Nigeria.”
Presenting his motion, Senator Kurfi said that the ” Senate notes that a vast majority of drivers employed to drive in official capacity either in public or private sector in Nigeria do not possess the necessary qualification to consider them employable. For most of them, a primary school certificate is their highest level of qualification. It is appalling to note that to some of these drivers, the basic skill of reading and writing is a serious challenge.”
He said that the Senate “Further notes that the situation mentioned above have caused untold hardships on our roads as the alarming rate of road accidents can be attributed largely to the recklessness and low level of literacy. These drivers have little or no knowledge of semiotic signs that guide the use of roads.”
According to Senator Kurfi, the Senate is “Worried that for some drivers, it is even a challenge to identify the various vehicle particulars assigned to their vehicle. This has given rise to forgery and fake documentation of car particulars such as insurance etc as most drivers are assigned the task of obtaining and renewing these documents as and when due;
“Further notes that the high rate of road accidents caused by motor cycles popularly known as okada is not news any longer. The use of okada has become such a menace that some cities in the country have gone ahead to place a ban on this means of transportation because it has created a lot of problems. It is appalling to note that these okada riders on closer scrutiny are children, some less than 18 years of age with very little or no education on the navigation and understanding of road signs and its application.”
He said that the Senate is further “Aware that even though employers would normally ask for the basic qualification for employment of drivers, however, due diligence is rarely carried out to ensure that they have obtained these qualifications. The thoroughness and details applied in assessing a staff for employment for a higher level of office is usually absent when employment is made for positions of this nature.”
In his contribution, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North) stressed the need for the matter to be given adequate attention in view of the number of vehicles plying Nigerian roads so as to further save human lives and properties being lost on daily basis.
According to him, driving has become an all comers’ affairs “because no driver has ever being charged for manslaughter despite numerous passengers being killed in accident, even when the entire family members of 25 died due to recklessness of many drivers”.
Also in his contribution, Senator Philip Gyunka (PDP Nasarawa North) who called for budgetary provision for the training of drivers in order to save loss of lives in the country, said: “Most accidents in this country are caused by the lawlessness of drivers or in most cases, they don’t know their rights or do the right things at the right time”.
Others like Senators Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central); Theodore Orji (PDP Abia Central); and Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North East) emphasized the need to regulate the issuance of divers licence to Nigerians with a view to reduce carnage on the roads.
In his remarks, Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki charged all relevant agencies in the transport sector to be alive to their responsibilities of ensuring strict compliance to the issuance of drivers licence, not only to fight corruption, but saving human lives.
He therefore directed the Senate Committee on Transport to provide adequate oversight for the sector, especially on the Federal Roads Safety Corps, FRSC and others for effective discharge of their mandate.