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Let’s Stop the Road Carnage

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road traffic accidentAll that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke

Many of us have been gripped by the story of the remarkable escape of three young ladies in America from 10 years of abduction and assault. Accolades have been paid to Charles Ramsey who heard one of the ladies, Amanda Berry, screaming for help and decided to do the right thing. According to him during his interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, he was tempted not to help because “… I don’t want to get in nobody’s business.”

I wonder how many times the fear of ‘rocking the boat’, or “it’s not my business” has made us insensitive to many hurting people all around us.  I am sure that was not the first time Amanda Berry had screamed for help. Neighbours must have noticed odd events around the house, they must have heard screams, but I guess they were too busy or like we say in Nigeria, e no concern them.

Like those unconcerned neighbours, many of us in Nigeria are too busy to care about the hurting people around us. We hear stories that should shock us into action but we lamely say things like “it’s God’s will” or “it’s not my portion”, as if those it happened to had begged God for it. We have become very good at telling ourselves that we cannot help anyone who is not a relative. We expect the activists, the government, the religious leaders… everyone but us to do the right thing. We give reasons why we cannot help, why another person should do the right thing. And so we do nothing, at best we pray.

Recently we heard of the horrific accident involving a Dangote truck, a fuel tanker and a commercial bus along Benin-Lagos expressway. Over thirty innocent souls were burnt beyond recognition. Among them a mother travelling with her kids after a church convention and a husband and wife who had only being reunited the day before after his 10 year sojourn in Austria. Some children in a mechanic shop close by were also killed in that fire, they were probably waiting for their dad to repair his car, probably still in their school uniforms.

These men, women and children had families and loved ones, they had dreams and hopes, and they certainly did not want to die in such an agonizing way. Overnight children became orphans and families were devastated. Their loss further worsened because they could not identify the charred bodies of their relatives to give them a decent burial.

What makes this incident even more painful is that this is not an isolated incident. A day before that accident, another heavy duty vehicle had rammed into a bus in Anambra State crushing about twenty people to death. In just one month, at least seven such accidents have occurred, about a hundred people have died and nothing, absolutely nothing has been done about it. No prosecutions, no jail terms, no suspension of licenses, nothing has been done. As though the people who died were flies!

As sad and tragic as plane crashes are, we all demand investigations into such accidents to prevent a repeat. Airline operators are made to carry out several safety tests to restore confidence in passengers. And that is the right thing to do. Yet road accidents that kill more Nigerians get scant attention. It is another statistic in the records of the FRSC. No one is ever made to face the law for their irresponsibility. There are companies whose drivers are notorious for recklessness and who have sent many of our fellow citizens to untimely graves. Yet these companies are never disciplined, their drivers are never jailed, and they continue to cause untold sorrow. It is no wonder then that Nigeria is the second country with the highest number of road accident fatalities worldwide!

In just three years (2007 to 2010) fuel tankers and articulated trucks (aka trailers) killed at least 4,076 people and injured almost 13,000! That is not all.  In their latest report, published in 2011, the FRSC notes that the number of road fatalities increased by a whopping 50% between 2010 and 2011. That is unacceptable and a disaster! In other countries there would be an outcry, there would be a demand for change, the FRSC Corps Marshall and transport minister would be made to answer questions.  But in Nigeria, we cannot be bothered, “e no concern me”!

It is no wonder drivers continue to drive with worn out tires, faulty brakes and badly maintained vehicles. It is no wonder that a highly combustible substance like petrol is moved about in poorly designed tankers. It is no wonder that heavy duty vehicle drivers continue to terrorize Nigerians by their recklessness and narcotics- and alcohol-induced rage.

For some of us who live overseas, we know all too well the consequences of causing death by dangerous driving. There is no option of fines; it is usually a jail sentence and a suspended license for a number of years. Someone is always held responsible.

Perhaps you are wondering what the FRSC is doing about this. The same thing they have been doing: all bark and no bite. They say they will prosecute, yet I haven’t heard of any prosecutions, they say they will demand compensations, still nothing. They say this, they say that, yet the accidents and the death figures keep rising.

I think of the story of the Holocaust and like many people I wonder why no German did anything to stop Hitler. The reason is simple, it did not concern them. As long as their families were safe they just didn’t care about the Jews.  Millions of Jews were killed and yet not one German made any significant effort to stop the carnage. Will you continue to watch as thousands are killed on our roads yearly? Will you do nothing to stop the carnage going on, just because your family is safe? Or will you like Charles Ramsey the hero, make an effort to do the right thing?

You don’t have to wait till it happens to you before it concerns you. It could be anyone, stuck in a traffic jam with a fuel tanker driven by a reckless driver. It could be anyone driving from their child’s school, it could be anyone in the market, from the church or mosque… It could be anyone.

Perhaps as a Christian or Muslim, you feel it’s best to just pray and leave it to God. You are mistaken! Do not use God as an excuse for your laziness! Even the Bible says faith without works is death.  The carnage on our roads is man-made, it is not God’s will. We can put an end to it. We can make noise about it and demand for safer roads just like we do about airlines.

Perhaps you are saying “I would love to help but I don’t know how”. Remember ‘my oga at the top’ saga? Ordinary Nigerians made a big deal out of it, causing the NSCDC so much embarrassment that they had to re-deploy the officer in question. We, ordinary Nigerians who bear the brunt of road accidents can make a huge deal of it. Social media is not only for sending funny pictures or posting the blunders of others, but it can be a tool for change like the Arab Spring. We are all very inter-connected now, more than ever before and all it takes is people who will resend the same message to make it go viral.

I’m tired of saying R.I.P, I am tired of blaming the leaders, and I want to DO something. I have started a Facebook page, a Twitter account and an online petition to the Corps Marshall of FRSC calling for the ban of fuel tankers and trailers during daytime hours since that is when most of these accidents happen.

To be honest with you, I had my fears about even doing anything. I have never even written an article before, I have no influential friends. But as a Christian, I refuse to let the fear of failure stop me from doing the right thing. Throughout the Bible we read of God using ordinary people, who stepped in faith, to do extraordinary exploits. You might be like me, very ordinary, but you never know what you can do in partnership with God. Will you step out in faith and join this campaign for safer roads?

To find out more about the petition, check out the Facebook page. You can also follow on Twitter. You can also sign the petition here.

Photo Credit: nannewsngr.com

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Theresa Omoronyia is a trained business analyst and has degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. She lives in Glasgow, UK with her husband and son. Theresa enjoys being with people and her passion is to help those who are hurting. She has worked as a volunteer in orphanages, and as a peer educator and music tutor to secondary school students in Nigeria.

I think everyone has unique attributes to make a positive impact in this world. I hope my articles encourage people to "think right, feel right and do right". Professionally I am a trained business analyst with degrees in Management Science and Computer Science. I am happily married with children. I blog at http://thesisterskeeper.blogspot.co.uk

23 Comments

  1. Tolu

    May 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Ordinary people do extra ordinary things.
    Its time for a change.

  2. Igbe

    May 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I agree totally. I had just posted this same sentiments on Facebook but as concerns our resident evil boko haram. We are so self centred we cannot be bothered with other people’s very preventable grief. Doing nothing is the reason we have managed to become a failing state in every way, why are we so unconcerned? There has to be a way to get across to Nigerians that the pursuit of money is not the reason for our existence. If you think it does not concern you today just wait till it hits your home. It’s not epe, remember bad things do not happen to only bad people.

  3. lulu

    May 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    This is such a good write uu! Am impressed! And yes, we must be more responsible!!

  4. joy

    May 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I’m in full support.I pray those that are concern listen and act.

  5. uniqueaffairz

    May 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Amen Sister!

  6. Idak

    May 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I’m off to sign the petition on change.org,since i am neither on Facebook nor Twitter.
    However, i am pessimistic about change in this society of ours.Decay and corruption is so deeply rooted that i’ve almost given up on change. Watch the companies responsible for those trucks move into action to protect their vested interest the moment this movement of yours (which shall be ours) gains traction and watch the FRSC and co make sense of the illogical.
    For the sake of humanity, i am signing that petition.

    • Theresa Omoronyia

      May 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Like you said Idak ” for the sake of humanity”…. That is what compelled me to start this. Honestly we can’t afford to do nothing. No change comes easy, but it is worth it! There are more Nigerians who are affected by road carnage than the few people who don’t care. Imagine if all these concerned Nigerians (you and I) came together and demanded for safer roads? Change is possible, it is within reach, we just have to persist. There is no other option, we can’t continue like this. It could be any of us or our loved ones tomorrow 🙁

      @Ms Lala, it has been shown that most of these horrific crashes happen during the day time, when passenger travel is highest. The report is online, carried out by the FRSC sef. I totally understand what you mean about our leaders ignoring this message. But you know what. perhaps they might not. No need letting the fear of failure hold us back. Let’s try again, who knows what might happen? There is a ray of hope, even though it seems very far off.

    • Idak

      May 11, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      I hear you and i have done the needful. Like i said in the petition, the major roads need to be lit up,else we will be transferring disaster from day to night.imagine driving on Benin-Ore road by 11pm without street lights?

  7. Berry Dakara

    May 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve said many-a-time that all vehicles should be seized in Nigeria and undergo emissions testing! If the vehicle is not safe for driving (broken tail light, doors that won’t close, exhaust fumes beyond an acceptable level, etc), then it should not be on the road!

    In addition, everyone should get their drivers licenses the RIGHT way!

    And, let’s not forget the death traps that are Nigerian roads.

    There are too many issues to count here, unfortunately 🙁

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  8. Qqqu

    May 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Something needs to be done about the terrible roads in Nigeria, truth be told. Serious death traps. messed up law and order, corruption and selfishness in the heart of men, smh.. but I still luv my country though

  9. Ms lala

    May 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I feel your pain my dear…but banning them from travelling daytime hours…is it night time that will be safe…that’s even worse….there needs to be a structural system that holds these companies responsible for wrongful deaths…vehicular man slaughter …but there is’nt and until there is everything we do and rant won’t change a damn thing. Dana Airline crashed and killed hundreds of people …no lawsuit payment nothing to the families that were taken from their loved ones….the plane crashed in a small neighborhood….in few years from now those residents will be diagnosed with cancer and worse…they will reproduce and that deformed gene will probable pass down to their offsprings. ….The roads are bad and the leaders of these states do not care until their own relatives die on that same road. To fly is not safe due to bribery and unqualified airplanes being permitted to fly in the air and then crash…..the issue goes deeper than signing petition…These leaders will simply ignore,sip bottled water and move on to the next batch of money they can launder. It is sad but very true

    • OK

      May 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Ultimately I second ur sentiments. There really can’t be any worthwhile upholding of law and justice if there’s no adequate and robust system of enforcement and persecution. 90% of the ppl that are saddleenforcing the law in Naija are illiterates and are not even conversant of the laws they are supposed to enforce…ultimately though, if the head is rotten then the body followa, and in our case since the head (the government) is dead, decayed, and maggot infested, there’s much that can change until we as citizens wake up from our slumber and rise and effect change, even if by force.

  10. Sel

    May 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I disagree with the point about no German doing anything to stop Hitler. There were pockets of resistance group who tried to even kill him but they had to pay with their lives after they were found out. There was a special court(forgotten the name) that prosecuted(mostly death sentences) anyone that was known to have been against Hitlers ideologies( they killed thousands of Germansuncluding high ranking Nazi officers).
    Even the movi ‘Valkyrie’is based on one of such resistance groups.
    Back to the topic at hand, sometimes I don’t know if it is our educational system or the way we were brought up that has failed up(in terms of standing up for change/ what is right)
    In the classroom, the teacher must always be right, even if you know what he/she is saying is wrong. Any attempt to challenge them would have you marked as a disobedient child by that teacher and you would be the object of hate. As such from an early age, we have never been taught how to stand up for what we believe in/change for the better.the only time we get to ‘get back’ at our teacher is when we are alone with our classmates, then we can gossip and make fun if the teacher, which makes us feel better.
    Same goes go our elders, as children we are told never to argue with an elder, look down when the elders are talking, even when shaking hands, we must put the left hand behind us, etc. How then can we stand up to authority when we were never brought up like that.
    Right from childhood our only consolation is laughing at them behind their backs,making jokes about them with our friends, and that has been the only way we deal with standing up to Authority.
    I believe that all these have translated to what we see now. How then can you explain that the same youth who have a strong social media voice would only use to downgrade important issues to comedy, but would never use that voice to demand for a positive change in societal issues.
    I believe it goes much deeper than not caring because the issue does not affect you, afterall the families of victims of such accidents could have started a protest no matter how small their voices were.(sorry if I displayed some ignorance here but I haven’t heard of anything as such)
    We definitly need to learn how to use our voice to stand up for change!

    • Theresa Omoronyia

      May 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks Sel for that kind correction, its much appreciated.
      You are absolutely correct about the mentality we have, that our elders can do no wrong. That is the bedrock of the problems we have in Africa. Hopefully as more of us get exposed to other cultures, we will learn how to stand up and speak out when our elders make mistakes…after all they are human.

    • Simya

      May 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      I completely agree with you, it definitely has to do with our mentality and the way we were brought up. I have always said I will never bring my children up in such ways.

  11. nene

    May 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    thumbs up! high five!

  12. FJD

    May 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    My own experience was really crazy, I collapsed at OSHODI when I was coming from my PPA @Ogbomosho, I went for my NYSC thing and came back to lagos, so I was trying to connect Obalende because, I lived in dolphin estate. And on the faihful evening I was so tired and weak ,all I noticed was that I was freezing up , my hands and legs were folding up and believe me THE SO CALLED FASHOLA WORKERS “LAGOS BRT WORKERS” were just looking at me on the floor dying.. I begged for water just to put on my head , people were staring at me , I know that day and I can fish them out. But, I just prayed to God that help me make heaven even if I don’t make it alive that night. “The day I went and came back @ Under bridge Oshodi” The man was quick to tell me he was not a doctor . And I was just using my last power to drag on the floor, blood coming out of my leg real bad due to dragging on the floor ,luckily I got a bottle water seller and she helped me and I got on the bus , even at that when I got to Obalende, I couldn’t even move out of the bus . So , some how I managed to drag on the floor of the bus to the ground and a bottle water settler noticed me again WOW! She actually helped me and I managed to get to Dolphin estate Gate from the back gate with a bike . Bottle water helper did what a so called “BRT ” Workers who should have done and even have Health and Safety , First Aid training before they even start work. In the UK , in that kinda profession where you deal directly with the people you must have Skills for Care : require each worker to undertake an induction for each new work place.

    Skills for Care provide that ‘When the manager is satisfied that a new worker has met all the outcomes within the Common Induction Standards, it is their responsibility to sign off the induction as complete.’
    Skills for care also state ‘Each outcome in the induction standards will therefore need to be broken down into one or more specific questions that assess the new worker’s knowledge and understanding about the content of that standard’. And that must include health and safety , first aid…. How many Bus drivers know that they must stop first before passengers get up on their seat before they can come down? The sweet thing about GOD ALMIGHTY is this, you will reap what you sow….Look let’s face reality , those police men burnt to asses was a real sad case .But, I over heard someone talked about it when I was on the Bus that “If to say Na all these Lagos Police dem carry go wey dem burn them ” People must celebrate. He said you carry bag for back ? You be Yahoo, You climb bike , they will almost fall you and the bike man together chasing you with another bike.An offender catching and Offender”Kettle calling pot black” He said he was a local painter and when he wrote a quotation on his paper , they actually dragged him to the police station infact they searched his phone as he said. I lived and still living in the UK and Nija , it’s very difficult to see the situation on NIJA and not cry for Nija. It is well . He no concern me? he no concern me . One lady was drunk at Romford train station , I had to rush up to save her life cos she would have been a dead woman even though I took a risk cos in 5 secs it could happen.Later people gathered and started praising me and saying well done . I said shut up! didn’t you see her when she was going on the train line and a train was about to move? Even my trip from heathrow to Abuja the same , Nigerians were just looking at this dying woman with one leg amputated and one bad. I had to put my Health Care assistant skill to place cos I was trained so BRT Officials should learn from this. I had to help her even though it wasn’t easy , but at the middle of the journey another Nigerian Doctor on first class had to take over from me. And even the BA staffs were like looking at her that we can’t do anything , that when the so called staff on board came with her infos., I read them , used it to work with her before the main doctor came. Infact I couldn’t eat cos it was so bad …After everything , Nigerian were saying God bless you …some where clapping, the BA staff came and gave me another vacant seat where I can have 3 free seats to myself ,chapman and everything I needed on board just to satisfy me , ridiculous .Anyways it is well . Ask any Nigerian and please post it . ” IF YOU SEE A DYING POLICEMAN WILL YOU HELP HIM OR HER AND WHY?” You will see the response you will get ..SMH for Nigerians

  13. Jenny Craig

    May 11, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    It’s sad

  14. molarah

    May 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Liking the Facebook, Following on Twitter, Signing the Petition. IT IS about time! Thank you, Theresa, for doing what many of us knew we should do but were too lazy or scared to. By the special grace of God, we will bring about the required change. I’m scared, very scared, especially for myself, because with each accident recorded I sense a numbness in my soul and a growing sense of detachment to humanity. Is it enough to just thank God that no one I know was involved in the accidents? The people that were involved – are they just chickens or flies that should die anyhow? God bless you for this initiative.

    • Theresa Omoronyia

      May 11, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks Molarah, we are kindred spirits! It is scary to travel on the roads in Nigeria, people literally hold thanksgiving ceremonies when they arrive at their destinations safely. Please spread the word so that the FRSC and ministry of transport realize its time they did the right thing.

  15. Stella Kashmoney

    May 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Time for a change has come. May God bless you for this article.

  16. Dee-USA

    May 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    You are sure neighbors had heard her scream before and didn’t help? You know this because? Let’s be careful of trying to pass erroneous, opinionated comments as fact. Truth is the rescuer has given several interviews with varying comments. He’s also said he didn’t hesitate to go help her. To generalize his one comment about thinking twice to the whole community is dangerous.

    Your petition is important enough to stand on its own. Let’s not taint it by presenting unproven versions of the truth (Hitler’s story is another example, but I see you were corrected on it.)

    • Theresa Omoronyia

      May 17, 2013 at 4:53 am

      Thanks Dee-USA, but I have read interviews of neighbours saying they found some odd things going around the house. One neighbour said she had seen a naked lady crawling in the garden, while another said she saw a little girl peering through a window. Also remember that those girls were in that house for 10 years, and had been through hell and back. I have no doubt that they must have cried and screamed many times while their ordeal lasted. These are not opinionated comments my dear.
      About the rescuer,…well I put his comments just the way I heard it on CNN. I am not an investigative journalist, I heard what he said and wrote it.
      The point of this article is to wake us up from the turning a blind eye to people’s plight. The reason I am responding to your comment is because I don’t want people to get the wrong impression about what needs to be done to end the carnage on our roads.
      I thank you all the same for your comment Dee-USA

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