WE are impressed with the “drive alcohol-free” road users’ campaign embarked upon by the Beer Sectorial Group, BSG of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN. Its initiators say it is aimed at promoting the nation’s economy through road safety.
A statement issued by MAN’s BSG recently declared that the group intends to “improve safety on our roads through reducing the incidents of drink-driving and the chances of alcohol-related road crashes.” This is a laudable programme voluntarily embarked upon by the manufacturers of the beer type of alcoholic beverages, cognisant of the fact that the wrong use of their products by drivers is responsible for the avoidable losses of lives and property on our roads everyday.
This is quite different from the scenario witnessed with the tobacco manufacturers who, for years, dithered and spent billions to slow down the efforts of regulators to ensure that warnings of the dangers of smoking were inscribed on cigarette packs.
We also commend the memorandum of understanding the beer makers signed with the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC to promote alcohol-free road usage for the safety of drivers and their passengers. It will be even more helpful if the cooperation of road transport unions is enlisted to carry this message home to their members. We need this type of collaboration by the relevant stakeholders in every sector to increase safety awareness and protect the welfare of the ordinary person.
MAN should widen its efforts beyond beer makers. The manufacturers of other alcoholic beverages should also be compelled to join these efforts. We suggest that all alcoholic products should bear warning messages about the need to drink responsibly, and never drink when driving or about to hit the road.
We have to bear in mind, however, that alcoholic beverages are not the only toxic substances that drivers abuse. They also use cheap drugs such as codeine and tramadol. This dangerous practice is often rampant among long-distance truck drivers. The profusion of alcohol-based “bitters” in our markets has only worsened the situation.
The government has a lot to do in order to bring about total sanity and sobriety among road users. The FRSC should be properly equipped with relevant technology, such as breathalyser kits, to spot substance abusers on our roads before they plunge themselves and their passengers into untimely ends.
We call on other manufacturers to emulate MAN’s BSG and guide their customers to use their products with care in order to be safe. After all, it is only when consumers are safe and alive that they can continue to patronise manufactured goods. Manufacturers must realise that corporate social responsibility to promote the safety of consumers ultimately bodes well for their corporate prosperity.