Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport on Thursday called for the introduction of stringent penalties for those who violate and breach the laid down traffic procedures in the country.
Amaechi who is seeking an amendment to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Act said a stipulated jail term for all traffic offences will serve as a way of curbing deaths and injuries resulting from road crashes across the state.
Speaking during the 2021 Easter Mega Rally organised by the FRSC at the Jabi Central Park, Abuja, the minister said if road users were aware that they would go to jail for beating the traffic light or crashing into other vehicles, they would drive more carefully.
He called on the corps to lobby and get the FRSC Establishment Act amended at the National Assembly, saying he would support the move.
Amaechi stated, “Drinking alcohol while driving is an offence, overloading is an offence, but most drivers do this because there are no major consequences or jail term for these offences. FRSC should lobby the NASS to amend their act to criminalise the offences.”
The minister reiterated that the issue of road safety has become a priority both at the national and global levels considering its impact on society at large.
He stated that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 3,400 people die on the roads every day and many of them get injured or disabled. He stressed that the most disheartening is the fact that children, pedestrians, cyclists and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
Amaechi said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is placing Road Safety issues on the front burner aimed at promoting good practices that address behavioural risk factors.
Amaechi recommended some safety measures such as avoiding speeding, not driving when one is exhausted or drunk, making or receiving calls; stressing that if these tips are adhered to, it will curb the rate of accidents on the roads.
However, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Sabiu Zakari, was also quoted as saying that it was out of respect that the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has selected Nigeria as the country to host this conference.
Zakari, who was represented by Dr. Anthonia Ekpa, the Director of Road Transport and Mass Transit Administration, noted that UNITAR has underscored the importance of Nigeria’s place on safety on our roads.
Zakari noted that it was envisaged that UNITAR’s aim for organising this event is to serve as a platform to address some of the emerging challenges on road safety. He commended UNITAR for the High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) initiative of training enforcement officers to address road safety risk factors, using the Breathalyzer Machine, which detects drinking while driving.