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    Air and road safety in Nigeria

    The penultimate week’s building collapse, which led to the death of 20 children and adults on Lagos Island, is unfortunate and pathetic.

    After the incidence, government officials disclosed that the school was unapproved. The school, which shared a building with commercial shops for many years, was proclaimed as illegal. What has the Inspectorate department of the Ministry of Education been doing before the collapse, which exposed their compromise? Can they claim ignorance of the existence of the school?

    After the collapse of the building, the government swung into action to demolish some other weak buildings in the area. What has the state building regulatory authority and the relevant Ministry been doing about the so called weak buildings? I do hope they won’t go back to sleep. Why do governments at the federal, state and local levels wait for disasters to happen before they wake up to their responsibilities? This non- challant  attitude sad.

    In August 2017, I boarded an aircraft in Nigeria and the interior of the aircraft, including the seats, could be likened to a glorified molue commercial bus. The sound and interior of the aircraft clearly revealed that that it was nothing but a flying casket. Within that period, I featured an article on air safety in this column where I reported the experience. Few days after the article was published, there was a report that the door of an aircraft fell off while landing. What would have happened to the people in the aircraft and those on ground, if the aircraft was already airborne when the door fell off?

    We give God the glory for the safety in our airspace for some years. The safety standards of some of the aircraft being used for domestic flights  call for proactive attention and decisions to avert air disasters. There must be regular monitoring and uncompromised enforcement of maintenance and safety standards.

    Similarly, there are many vehicles plying our roads that are nothing but mobile caskets. The National Road Traffic Regulations clearly states that  vehicle occupants must wear the seat belts. Over 80 per cent of the vehicles in Nigeria, particularly the commercial vehicles, have no functional seat  belts for passengers or occupants. The seats of most of the commercial buses  have been dangerously reconstructed to the level that seat belts cannot be attached to them. In addition, there are many iron dangerously exposed in several commercial buses that make injuries and death so easy even in low impact cases of road traffic crashes. The question is, what have the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) been doing that we still have so many substandard vehicles on the roads, also overloading Nigerians dangerously on the roads? Are the lives of the people not as important as the lives of the VIPs?

    I have embarked on many research on transportation and road safety the results of which will take many books. One case I will, however,  mention here is the hazardous impunity on the roads. I have seen uncountable numbers of the Nigeria Police (VP) vehicles moving on the road without head lamps, traffic indicators (pointers), break lights, reverse lights, side mirrors and inside mirrors while some of the vehicles are sincerely not roadworthy.

    Yet, they do move freely on the roads in the states and even the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Do they have road traffic immunity? Is the NP above the road traffic law? Many roads around the Police stations are littered with arrested vehicles causing traffic changes with impunity.

    Likewise, I have seen many log – carry trucks and vehicle towing vans in their rickety forms moving on the roads without head lamps, brake lights, turn-indicators and other essentials with impunity. Are they also above the law? Who is compromising in these cases?

    The government, Nigerians, the United Nations are bothered about the high rate of road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths in the country. There will only be solution when those in authority and other Nigerians get more uncompromisingly committed to doing the right thing at the right time towards the common purpose of ensuring safety on the airspace and roads.

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