It has been estimated that the Nigeria loses over 35, 000 of its citizens to road accidents  annually, the Executive Director, Accident Prevention and Rescue Initiative (APRI), Abuja  Nigeria, Prince Fidelis Nnadi, has said. This figure has not taken into account the number  of victims of such accidents that are rendered incapacitated throughout their lifetime or  those who die from the trauma of the accidents.

Lamenting those road traffic accidents have become a common occurrence in the country, he  said apart from the devastating blows it has on its victims, more devastating is the pain it  causes the victims before they finally die.

Disturbed by this worrying trend, he has therefore advocated the merging of the Federal Road  Safety Commission (FRSC) with the Federal Ministry of Works/Transport saying that was the  consensus view of other stakeholders like him.

According to Prince Nnadi, the merger has become vital for the regulation of safe use of  roads, “making inputs in road design, engineering and certification of safety on road  construction as roads are constructed without consideration for the safety of other classes  of road users and safety facilities. All these are some of the issues for government to  tackle towards curtailing road traffic accidents in Nigeria.” He explained that the tragic  occurrence has been reported by experts as among causes of national economic retrogression  and poverty to families and that this was affecting the country.

“It is estimated that over 35,000 (under reported) people are killed annually by Road  Traffic Accident in Nigeria, but despite its daily occurrence, the federal and some state  governments are yet to respond positively in tackling the carnage, except Lagos State and  the Federal Capital Territory Administration that have deployed resources for effective  enforcement of road traffic regulation to ensure adequate safety of road users and sanity in  the road transport sub-sector,” he stated.

Giving insight into the reasons behind the spate of road accidents in the country, the  Executive Director lamented that various governments, organised transport unions and  associations were yet to improve realistically on their responsibilities to the safety of  road users.

While roads are designed and constructed, he said, little or no consideration is made for  safety facilities to guide and protect road users, particularly motorists and other class of  road users.

“Motor vehicle drivers account for substantial cause of road traffic accidents resulting in  injuries and deaths. In Nigeria, driver training is not institutionalised while driver  licensing and other motor vehicle related matters are shared between Federal, State/FCT  Government authorities.

“This has created disharmony and controversies among these authorities considering that  driver certification and licensing and other issues of Motor Vehicle Administration is the  constitutional responsibilities of State/FCT Governments,” he said.

As a result of the shared responsibility, he complained that unqualified drivers now obtain  licenses through racketeers and unauthorised persons.

“Driver License is a legitimate instrument of identification globally and is an instrument  of identification for financial transactions in banks and other related institutions even  though these institutions are versed in the verification of the genuineness of driver  license.

“Same is applicable to vehicle number plates which are printed and sold to unsuspecting  motorists by insider syndicates.

“It is however obvious that fake driver license, number plates and related motor vehicle  documents are in circulation caused by duplication of functions and compelled partnership  between the FRSC and State/FCT Road Traffic Agency.

“These and other controversial issues in the administration of motor vehicle between the  Federal Road Safety Commission and State/FCT Road Traffic Agency are among causes of the  present unprecedented rise in road traffic accidents in Nigeria,” Nnadi stated, adding that  while the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) claim authority and responsibility for the  printing, issuance of vehicle number plates, based on CAP 548 LFN, the FRSC rely on its 2007  amended Act to assume authority over motor vehicle administration thereby raising the  question as to who actually should be held responsible for the lapses in road traffic and  safety management, certification and licensing of drivers, and the functions that are  presently shared by the two authorities.

He accused the FRSC of abandoning its unique primary function of road safety enforcement and  focusing on road traffic enforcement, a situation that has brought the commission in envious  conflict with the State Road Traffic Agency which has in all aspect been weakened in  performance by the incursion of the Commission into their functions.

“While the principles of function demarcation between the Federal and State/FCT road traffic  agencies is obvious and established, many state governments have neglected their  responsibility to establish and equip their Road Traffic Agencies and it will be inhuman for  the Federal Road Safety Commission to hesitate in taking over their functions towards  ensuring safety of road users, even though the Commission, by virtue of complementing  efforts, is expected to advise and encourage the state governments to establish and equip  their road traffic agencies towards efforts in safety of road users estimated at 80% of  Nigeria population of 140million people,” he said.