BY: KUNLE SOMORIN
If feelers from the National Assembly are anything to go by, the speed limiting device also called speed-limiter to prevent the citizens from accelerating beyond pre-set speed limit, is dead on arrival.
I feel it should not be so. If anything, it is in the enlightened self-interest of the political leaders to use the mechanism to reduce the carnage on our roads.
If you ask me, if the device had been fitted to the vehicle of the deceased minister of state for labour and employment, James Ocholi, wife, son and driver might have been saved the untimely death that snatched them away last Sunday.
For whatever it is worth, it would cut short the avoidable death on our roads. After the implementation of the regulation was stalled twice last year, one would have thought our leaders would have sorted out the grey areas in the regulation on compulsory use of the speed limiting device as enshrined in the FRSC Establishment Act and the National Road Traffic Regulation since 2004 and retained in the subsequent amendments.
Unconvinced, the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) asked the FRSC to explain why it is yet to commence sanctions against erring drivers from the new date of April 1.
If Boboye Oyeyemi, the corps marshal and his lieutenants do not know what to say, going to NASS with Ocholi’s tattered vehicle and the remains of the minister and his family members, I am convinced, would enlighten the lawmakers to speedily pass their proposal.
The sordid tales from the driver, passers-by and circumstances of the gory accident required no data from FRSC. Lobbying is not required here as it is the practice. The Nigerian masses who have buried their loved ones and those widowed by road accidents occasioned by high speed or those disabled through the same means and their loved ones will do the talking for them.
If, like in other things, charity begins abroad, the committee should turn to the World Health Organisation. The global body said a high pressure on our road network results in 33.7 deaths per 100,000 motorists every year here and declared us a country of ‘health concern’ because of these fatalities on our roads.
No one doubts that excessive speed is principally responsible for 50.8 percent of road crashes that occurred across the country. We also know that VIP convoys kill with reckless abandon.
Prof Festus Iyayi of ASUU on November 13, 2013 met his death because of the indiscretion of a Toyota Hilux driver in the convoy of former Kogi State governor, Idris Wada. How do the leaders atone for these deaths if not to limit the speed of their murderous drivers?
If our lawmakers do not understand the implication of a disabled citizenry or nationals dispatched to death for over-speeding, then we can kiss goodbye to good governance and people-oriented programmes from them. Speed has been identified as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes.
I don’t think the maximum speed on highway of 100km/hr for private cars and 90km/hr for taxis and buses, or 60km/hr for trailers amount to snail speed. In a built-up area, the speed could be between 20 or 30km/hr to 50km/hr. It is the obligation of the traffic law to signify any change in speed between routes. These are acceptable speed limit across decent societies.
The argument by NASS that speed limit failed and was dumped in Kenya does not explain why it works in other places. It is fraudulent. The N36,000 the FRSC wants to charge for installing the limiter may also be high-handed, but throwing away the baby with bath water is more criminal. If that is the case, let us look for less expensive devices or home-made ones.
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