Ondo, 26 November, 2021 – “It has not been an easy journey for me, for eight good months I did not sleep I do not pray for my enemy to be in the position I am now. For the past two years, I cry everyday” says Mr Joshua Alabi who lost his whole family members to a road accident in September 2019.
“My family of four were travelling back home from a journey when the incident happened, my wife was 32 years old, my children were 10, seven and two years old. I could not believe it when I heard the news. The journey has not been easy as I am now left with nothing, my only consolation is my mother and my mother in-law, I have to be strong for them.”
“The first time I slept after the incident was when I went for an outreach to widows and orphans, that was when I knew I have found a purpose. I now have a non-governmental organization that offers help to accident victims and their families, we link them to psychologist and therapists when there is need to regain their sanity, educational scholarship, vocational trainings and job opportunities. That is what keeps me going” he added.
Like Mr Alabi, a lot of people have lost their lives, families and loved ones from either vehicle speeding, negligence or bad road positions in Nigeria.
Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people aged 5-29 years. The burden is disproportionately borne by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, in particular those living in developing countries.
Started by Road Peace in 1993 and endorsed by the United Nations (UN) in 2005, the UN commemorates Remembrance for road traffic victims every third Sunday of November as an appropriate acknowledgement for victims of road traffic crashes and their families. This year, 2021’s theme is “Remember. Support. Act.
According to Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), in 2015, Nigeria recorded 12 077 road accidents of which 5 400 persons died. In 2016, the National Bureau Of Standards (NBS) reported that there were 11 363 crashes with 5 053 deaths; and in 2017, 10 026 crashes and 5 049 deaths.
Commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims day on November 21, 2021 at the Radio House in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha called on individuals to go home with a resolution that it will be a new beginning by renewing their efforts to contain road crashes on all Nigerian Roads.
He added that “Roads are prime infrastructural contributors to micro and macro-economic development of any nation. It is the backbone of our commerce, enabling passenger and freight movement across the nation. Then Federal Government will continue to expend huge resources to develop this infrastructure for its economic value. Especially in Nigeria, as indeed most economies in sub-Sahara Africa, where passenger and freight movement of 75 to 80 percent depend on road for movement and transportation.”
Also, at the event, the focal person for United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety and Injury Prevention (UNDARSIP) Professor Sydney Ibeanusi urged all road users to adopt safer road behavior habit “vehicle occupants should use the seat belts and call any defaulting drivers to order or report such dissident driver to appropriate enforcement agencies should he fail to comply with road safety rules. Motorcycle and bicycle riders must wear appropriate safety gears especially the crash helmets; vehicle drivers must drive within the stipulated speed limits and obey the “Zebra crossing” when designated; Pedestrians should use the pedestrian bridges and walk-ways when available”.
Creating awareness for safer roads
As part of the commemoration of the day, the WHO Ondo State Field Office joined the FRSC, Ondo State in creating publicity during the week by printing banners and flyers, as well as conducting sensitization on prevention of road traffic crashes across major motor parks in Akure, Ondo State. At one of the major Motor parks in Akure, sensitization on the need for low speed was held among the WHO and FRSC staff, as well as the commercial drivers.
Ondo State recorded a total of 227 Road Traffic Crashes (RTCs) and 91 deaths in 2020, while 364 crashes and 145 deaths were reported between January and September 2021.
Meanwhile, the Country Representative WHO Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo stated that “together with the UN regional commissions and in cooperation with other partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, WHO developed a Global Plan for the Decade of Action. The 2021-2030 has the target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. It is aimed to inspire countries, including governments and partners to act boldly and decisively, using the tools and knowledge gained from the last Decade of Action to change course”.
WHO as a lead agency for road safety is currently supporting advocacy for road safety among key stakeholders and high-level government officials, data collection and analysis, raising awareness of road safety, and disseminating good practices in prevention of RTC.
Dr Fatiregun Akinola Ayoola; Email: fatireguna [at] who.int; Tel: +234 8033720966
Dr Mary Dewan, Email: dewanm [at] who.int: Tel:+234 903 590 0750
Tel: +234 810 221 0093
Email: warigonc [at] who.int