Calls mount for compensation of road crash victims

• As FRSC, stakeholders mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

By Tope Templer Olaiya
The death last week of Prof. Festus Iyayi, former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) sent shock waves across the country. Iyayi, aged 66, died along the Lokoja-Abuja highway in a crash involving the convoy of Kogi State governor, Idris Wada.
Sadly, the radical university don is one of the latest additions to the increasing victims of road crashes in the country.
Ironically, last weekend, precisely Sunday, November 17, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Introduced by RoadPeace in the United Kingdom in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2005, the third Sunday in November every year is set aside to acknowledge victims of road traffic crashes and recognize the plight of their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the tragic events.
The day focuses on both the overall scale and the devastation caused on individuals by road deaths and injuries, plus the impact on families and communities around the world.
It also offers families and friends the opportunity to come together to remember loved ones, highlight the death toll and reflect on what can be done to prevent future deaths.


Facilitators of the symposium in Lagos

Facilitators of the symposium in Lagos

According to available statistics, road crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.
Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road accident. For every person killed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates another four will suffer long term life changing injury.
In Nigeria, the day’s commemoration has been low-key since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
This gap is, however, being filled by an amalgamation of non-governmental organizations, which used the occasion to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures that can be taken to prevent them.
The highlight of this year’s event was the call by stakeholders for compensation of road accident victims. Facilitator of the Remembrance Road Walk held in Lagos on Saturday and CEO of Steerite Driving School, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde, said road transport in the country should be properly regulated.
“Road transport shouldn’t be an all-comers affair. It should be duly regulated like the air and water transport system. Until this is done, compensation for road accident victims will be a tall order because the regulation is not in place for insurance companies to indemnify victims’ families,” he said.

Alonge Kayode of Integrated Corporate Services (left); Prof. Iyiola Oni of the department of Geography, University of Lagos; Lagos Sector Commander of FRSC, Chidi Nkwonta; CEO, Safety Beyond Borders, Patrick Adenusi; Temidayo Ogan of TOCCS Foundation; and CEO, Steerite Driving School Ltd, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde at the symposium.

Alonge Kayode of Integrated Corporate Services (left); Prof. Iyiola Oni of the department of Geography, University of Lagos; Lagos Sector Commander of FRSC, Chidi Nkwonta; CEO, Safety Beyond Borders, Patrick Adenusi; Temidayo Ogan of TOCCS Foundation; and CEO, Steerite Driving School Ltd, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde at the symposium.

Last year, the focus was the three Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving. 

In furtherance of its mission to ensure safety on Nigerian roads, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in Enugu carried its message to the church. The Southeast zonal commanding officer of the commission, Assistant Corps Commander Chike Nwaka, who led other officers of the commission to the Christ Redemption Church, Anglican Communion, Enugu, urged Nigerians to change their attitudes and lifestyles.
The visit was part of activities to mark the 2013 Africa Road Safety Day/World Day for Remembrance of Road Traffic Crash Victims.
Lamenting the number of deaths and avoidable casualties caused by road traffic crashes, Nwaka called for a collaborative effort among all Nigerians. According to him, “over 200 people die daily in Nigeria due to road traffic crashes.
“The road is a place where every habit you have comes to the open. The simple thing they teach us in the church, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself,’ is very important. If we demonstrate it on the highway, crashes will reduce. You don’t have to lose your cool on the wheel because of the behaviours of other road users,” he said.

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Remembering Road Traffic Victims In Nigeria

By Tope Templer Olaiya

Today (November 18) is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Introduced by RoadPeace in the United Kingdom in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2005, the third Sunday in November every year is set aside to acknowledge victims of road traffic crashes and recognise the plight of their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the tragic events.
The day focuses on both the overall scale and the devastation caused on individuals by road deaths and injuries, plus the impact on families and communities around the world. It also offers families and friends the opportunity to come together to remember loved ones, highlight the death toll and reflect on what can be done to prevent future deaths.
According to available statistics, road traffic crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.

OVERSPEEDING: Major cause of road crashes as captured above on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos… recently.

Almost 4,000 people are killed and hundreds of thousands injured on roads throughout the world daily.
Many more have to cope with bereavement or the effects of injury and thus become part of the huge group of people affected by road carnage. Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road traffic crash. For every person killed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates another four will suffer long term life changing injury.
In Nigeria, the day’s commemoration has been muted since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The gap is being filled by nongovernmental organizations, who are using the day to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures, which can be taken to prevent them.

The car crash at Idi-Oro bus-stop on Agege motor road, Mushin, which killed star music act, Dapo Olaitan also known as Da Grin in April 2010.

COMEMMORATING this year’s event, Steerite Driving School will from tomorrow till Wednesday hold 90 minutes sessions on the 3Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving.
With the theme How Not To Be A Victim, organisers hope to enlighten, create awareness and focus on the needless consequences of road users’ actions, while impacting and sharpening participants’ hazard perception skills, which are crucial to collision avoidance and crash preventability.
The proprietor of the school, Mr. Akinfe Samuel, said beyond declarations, there should be strategies to achieving resolutions made by the world body. “This is the gap we are filling because regulatory agencies are not living up to their billing. As a driving school, we do our best to give qualitative lessons to learners and corporate drivers. After two weeks, they are released to handle the wheel in a hostile environment.
“We decided to go beyond those we train and reach out to the public with free sessions on safe driving because of the inherent danger in releasing learners into a hostile environment like Lagos where there are little respect for road users by drivers and motorcyclists.”
Lagos State Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, Mr. Gbolahan Toriola, noted that for an accident to occur, three things must contribute to it: the road, vehicle and the driver, “and all lie with the driver, who controls the other factors. Safety lies in our hands and government cannot do it alone.

“While we may complain about bad roads, I think it’s a blessing in disguise because the high spate of accidents abroad is because of good roads, where most drivers tend to over-speed and as a result crash their vehicles, many of which find their way into the country,” he said.
Former military administrator of old Ondo State, Rear Admiral Sunday Abiodun Olukoya (Rtd), called for support for the new Lagos State Traffic Laws. According to him, Fashola has not reinvented the wheel. “He has only added bite to already existing laws, which is all in the bid to make our roads safer. We grew up in an environment where everybody was safe and you could move free on the road because drivers respected the road and other road users.
“The good old days has given way to chaos, a situation the governor is trying hard to redress. And as citizens, we must give him our support on this because for every road crash, there are three categories of victims: those who die, those injured and the many others traumatized by the incident.”

From left: CEO of NUFORSA, Adedapo Oyedipe; Former Military Governor of old Ondo State, Rear Admiral Sunday Olukoya; proprietor of Steerlite Driving School, Akinfe Samuel; and Lagos State Chief VIO Officer,Gbolahan Toriola at the press briefing to announce this year’s remembrance for road traffic victims in Lagos… on Thursday.

Partnering with the Nigerians Unite For Road Safety (NUFORSA), Steerlite Driving School is using this year’s commemoration to seek the following from government: recognition of the special day for road traffic victims; erection of a national memorial to road crash victims; funding for key remembrance events; ensure crash investigation institutions are functioning; and ensuring justice, care and support for injured road crash victims and bereaved families.
Others include introducing and enforcing speed limits on relevant roads; making road safety a police priority; introducing the strict liability law to protect vulnerable road users with a compensation plan; legislate articulated vehicle operations such as frequent trainings and installing wide-angle mirrors; and allocating funding to organizations supporting road crash victims and post-crash rescue.

Tips For Road Users
Never speed or tailgate (bumper to bumper).
Never go through red lights.
Never drink or drug drive.
Never hit and run.
Never use a phone while driving or any other distractions.
Always wear a safety belt and helmet.
Give more consideration to vulnerable road users.
Install speed limiters in own car.
Provide aids for crash victims on the road.

Lagos Traffic Law: Panic Over Enforcement, Imprisonment

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA

TO transport operators of different categories, the signing of Lagos State Road Traffic Law (2012) has been generating fright and panic over imprisonment clause despite repeated attempts by Governor Babatunde Fashola and his aides to allay fears that the law was not enacted to sentence traffic offenders, but rather deepen the culture of public safety.

The law, which repealed the 2003 Road Traffic Law, according to the governor, contains some innovative clauses that were brought into the legal regime, first to ensure public safety within the state, and second, to boost Lagos megacity status.

Section 36 (3) of the law states: “In sentencing a person convicted of committing an offence, the court may, in addition to or in lieu of the prescribed sentence, direct suspension or revocation of the driver’s license and direct the person convicted to render community service,” thereby setting a tone for deterrence and voluntary compliance.

But the section is not complete in itself. It is only operational under Section 347 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (2011), which sets definite circumstances and conditions by which any court of competent jurisdiction can order a person convicted of certain offences to render community service.

Also, the court, under the same section, can direct a person convicted of committing an offence to enroll for and attend courses at the Lagos State Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) for a period not less than seven days at his cost. At the discretion of the presiding magistrate, such person may be sentenced to both community service and enrolment in the drivers’ institute.

This, thus, explains why Fashola during the week, said the law is all about the safety and benefit of Lagos residents as it was not meant “to send anybody to jail. A jail sentence will be an extreme case, especially when the presiding magistrate has identified an offender to be hardened or such person has been committing a particular offence over and over again.

“Unlike the provision of the old traffic law, the new law has made provisions not only for payment of fines, but for convicted offenders to engage in community service such as directing traffic for a specified period among others. The objective of the new law is to get people to comply rather than getting them arrested or apprehended. There is nothing spectacular about the provisions in the new law that is not applicable in distant locations.

“So, the popularity of the law is very evident. Everybody should comply. For anyone who is convicted, he will either undergo compulsory training at the drivers’ institute or community service by managing traffic. Traffic management is a reality of the country’s large population. That is why we have also introduced a traffic radio to provide advance information to residents on how they plan their route,” Fashola said.

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AN in-depth examination of the law gives an insight into various challenges it intends to solve. Under Section 1, for instance, the law prohibits the use of any specified road by vehicles of specified class; regulates the conduct of persons driving, or riding any vehicle or animal on a highway and restricts the use of sirens as well as the sounding of horns or other similar appliances either in general or during specified period.

Subsection 2 and 4 gives power to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officers “to arrest where appropriate and prosecute any persons reasonably suspected of having committed any offences under the provisions of the law.” But LASTMA’s power to prosecute any suspect is subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 3 also prohibits any person from riding, driving or manually propelling a cart, wheel-barrow, motorcycle and tricycle from no fewer than 11 highways, 41 bridges and 496 routes, which are all stated under the Schedule II of the new traffic law. As contained in the schedule, these categories of vehicles are restricted from plying any route in Eti-Osa Local Government, which covers Victoria Island, Lagos Island as well as Ikoyi.

Under Subsection 4, commercial motorcycle riders are expected not to carry more than one passenger at a time. Aside, the subsection also states that a pregnant woman, a child below age of 12 and an adult with a baby or heavy load placed on her head or which obstruct normal sitting shall not be carried as a passenger, an act, which authors of the law, believe can cause untold suffering and multiple loss.

If any operator fails to comply with these provisions, subsection 5 therefore spells out stiff penalties ranging from serving a three-year imprisonment or rendering community service or the offender might have his vehicle forfeited to the state government, but an award of such penalties will be at the discretion of a presiding magistrate.

The Schedule I x-rays a wide range of traffic offences, which relates to any form of action that precludes drivers from operating with two hands, such as eating and drinking, making use of mobile phone, counting money and smoking while driving.

 

THE law has equally stoked stern reaction from different quarters. Chairman of Motorcycle Operators’ Association of Lagos State (MOALS), Tijani Perkins, described the law as anti-people. He observed that the new traffic law might create more social problems than it intends “to solve originally. Furthermore, the law breached an agreement, which associations of motorcycle operators had with the state government on August 24, 2010. The agreement spelt out the routes on which okada riders can operate in the state.”

An okada rider, Tope Aronipin, said the law is meant to punish operators for practising in the state. “For a long time, Fashola has been trying in vain to stop us from ‘eating’, and this time around, he won’t succeed. I am, however, happy for the law banishing agberos from the road. These people are just criminals and touts, who rob commercial bus drivers and okada riders in broad daylight in the name of collecting tolls.”

Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeola Ipaye, cited instances where human heads were smashed due to reckless operations of commercial motorcycle riders, traffic gridlocks created as a result of lawless driving of many motorists, and diverse cases of armed attacks on unsuspected residents, all of which he said, necessitated the enactment of the law “to avoid a situation whereby Lagosians are used to such gory scenes.”

In 2010, Perkins said it was agreed that okada operators would not ply all bridges and highways across the state. But he expressed dismay at the enactment of the new traffic law, which he said, was designed to disengage all okada operators out of business. “It is unfair to restrict our operations to Trunk C and D roads. This is unacceptable to us. On the 2010 agreement, we stand. We also have rights under the 1999 Constitution and shall exercise them.”

He explained how socio-economic challenges brought thousands of his colleagues to eke out a living from okada business. “How can the state government decide to disengage people going about their lawful activities without providing alternatives, especially in this era of depressed economy. As a body, however, we have decided not to take the matter to the court of competent jurisdiction until the law is gazetted and its enforcement equally takes off,” he said.

Musiliu Saka, like many of his colleagues, is not too happy with the enactment of the law, which he believes, will threaten sources of livelihood for many citizens with its adverse ripple effects on the society.

On his part, a bus driver, who plies Ketu-Oshodi route and simply identified himself as Bamidele, said the law would not work, urging that what the government had succeeded in doing was to empower LASTMA officials to continue their extortion spree. “This is a way of further enriching the highly corrupt LASTMA officials. Tell me how one could drive in a day without falling foul of the law. The government is indirectly saying we should pack our bags and go to our villages. Some aspects of the law are simply draconian,” he said.