A former aviation minister, Osita Chidoka, on Wednesday, said road crashes in Nigeria claim more lives in a year than some diseases do in the same period.
The former Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), said the roads are ‘bleeding’ hence the need to explore practical measures to stem the ‘hemorrhage’.
Mr Chidoka and other speakers gave their views in Abuja during the public presentation of the book, ‘Bleeding Roads’ written by a veteran Nigerian journalist, Ben Atonko.
‘’Our roads are consuming human beings. All the assumptions we make, as we get to the road, it gives a lie to it,’’ Mr Chidoka said. ‘’It is about 12 noon now as we speak. I can assure you that about now there will be a crash now somewhere along the Abuja- Lokoja highway. Between Abuja, Keffi, going to Akwanga, it would be happening.
‘’Between Abuja-Kaduna, if not that people are running from bandits, people will be dying from road crashes. Before we leave this hall, people would have died on these three roads I mentioned. The one that is even distressing is that between Centra Area and Kubwa going to Zuba, we are likely to have gotten a crash before 2 p.m. today,’’ Mr Chidoka said.
Mr Chidoka, who said, ‘’our roads are bleeding,’’ added that the implication is that every day at least 15 people die on our highways ‘’and they shouldn’t die’’.
‘’It is not a design of nature that people should die on the highway. Sweden has proven that you can have more cars than Nigeria and yet less deaths or no death on the highways.’’
On the book by Mr Atonko, Mr Chidoka said: ‘’The book (Bleeding Roads) has brought us together to show that we are responsible for our welfare on the roads. Remember safer roads will lead to fuller lives…’’
He noted that with adequate education, patience on the part of drivers and revulsion for over speeding the trend may yet abate.
The book reviewer, David Onilade, in his summation, said the theme of the 190-paged book was apt and well thought out by the author and called for introspection.
‘’By using the title, ‘bleeding’ the author was actually recording the enormity of the fatalities we are experiencing every day on our roads,’’ he said. ‘’The author, Benjamin Atonko has chosen to challenge us to take responsibility and act to put a check to the tragedy, trauma, deaths and distress assuating our very critical and spiritual essence on Nigerian roads on a daily basis.
Mr Atonko in a response to PREMIUM TIMES after the event explained why he wrote the book.
”I was moved by the theme of the United Nations World Day of Remembrance 2018. The theme for that year was “Roads have stories,” Mr Atonko, a former editor with Daily Trust, said.
”Nigeria has countless roads stories. Many roads stories are even untold. I decided to take up the challenge of telling the Nigerian roads’ stories. Bleeding Roads is one of the ways of telling the stories of the Nigerian roads. Telling the roads’ stories is bringing to the fore the magnitude of the chaos on our roads so appropriate actions are taken to tackle the crisis.
”That’s why it wasn’t only a book presentation. We brought those who have been badly affected by road traffic crashes to stand on the podium and tell their stories. And the impact was huge as the audience was greatly impacted.”
The event was interspersed by emotional moments when two road crash survivors, Dominion Young and Sani Kwabe, (a special marshal) narrated the trauma they went through during their ordeals and how they overcame.
The family of Patience Tsavnande, a victim of a road crash, who died in 2019, also addressed the audience where they gave details of a foundation set up in her honour.
The event was attended by officials and representatives from the road safety sector, establishments, the media, state and traditional rulers.