By Theodore Opara
The Corps Marshal,Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi has disclosed that 38% of all Africa’s road traffic deaths involve pedestrians. He disclosed this during a presentation on Non-Motorized Transportation(NMT) at the general assembly of West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) in Dakar, Senegal. He also disclosed that half of the world’s road traffic deaths involve motorcyclists, pedestrians (22%), cyclists (5%) while 31% of deaths involve car accidents. The remaining 19% of deaths involve unspecified road users.
Oyeyemi further noted that “ In 84% of the roads in low-income and middle-income countries, the speed limit is 40 km/h and above with no footpaths and even where footpaths exist, there is concern of encroachment, truncation, abuse by motorists and lack of protective features”. He also revealed that pedestrians have a 90% chance of surviving car crashes at 30 km/h or below, but less than 50% chance of surviving impact at 45 km/h or above adding that pedestrians risk about 80% chance of being killed at a collision speed of 50 kilometres/hour , as opposed to a 10% risk at 30 km/h.Using the Nigerian example, Oyeyemi explained that at a particular point in history, bicycles in Nigeria were a dream come true for the lower income earners and appreciated even by the “well to do” , but the oil windfall of 1973 brought prosperity, especially for the working class and opened up the transportation space.“As more cars came in, bicycles began to disappear from streets, cars became symbols of affluence and freedom.
As communities changed economically with provision of infrastructure, there was no corresponding change in NMT infrastructure, promotion, law, policies and usage by the upper class,”he stated. Oyeyemi emphasized that road traffic crashes (RTC) costs Nigeria about N3billion annually.
The FRSC boss also pointed out that traffic congestion amounts to about 3% of GDP of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to which Nigeria belongs. To this end, he said the Corps has designed initiatives to promote NMT in Nigeria and Africa generally. These include a national stakeholders committee on bicycle transportation, the first ever national cycling policy and strategy in Nigeria and at present working on the pedestrian manual.
The Corps understudied 6 cities in 5 different countries with a view to domesticating best practices, established a non-motorised transportation unit to enhance initiatives and to institutionalize them, hosted annual national bicycle week and won the 2013 Best Cycling Campaign award globally among 28 other participating countries.Furthermore,FRSC hosted the United Nations World Bicycle Day (3rd June) on 4th and 5th June this year featuring cycling rallies in over 200 cities, trained officers of the Corps in Netherlands and locally through the Netherlands Fellowship, promoted cycling competitions among students to enhance awareness, mobilised the mass media to propagate cycling among others.In his conclusion, he stated that while infrastructure for pedestrians are provided in our urban centres, cyclists have not that been lucky. He defined NMT as all modes of transportation not powered by electrical or mechanical motors but physically.