The spate of road accidents in Anambra State, especially in recent times, has called for concern, considering its frequency and consequent loss of lives. Last year, the government of Willie Obiano banned motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, in certain parts of Anambra State. Even though the chief reason for that measure was security, Anambrarians saw it as a good step in the right direction because they believed it would reduce the spate of road accidents as they were also partly caused by these motorcyclists.
Recently though, the accident rates appear to have increased. On March 13, a fatal accident happened along the Upper Iweka Road in Onitsha. It involved some vehicles, including a petrol tanker carrying about 33,000 litres of kerosene. Seven lives were lost while about fourteen people were left with varying degrees of injuries.
It will be recalled that in June 2015, a tanker driver carrying petrol, lost control of his vehicle and rammed into the Asaba Motor Park, reportedly killing over sixty people, among whom were street traders, bystanders, hawkers and passengers already boarded and about leaving for their destinations.
Here in Awka, the popular UNIZIK Junction has recorded many accidents which was the reason why the state government of the day was forced to build a pedestrian bridge for road users. It still did not stop these accidents and the government constructed speed breakers at many points, including Regina Caeli Junction, Government House Junction, and the Udoka Estate Junction, all along the Enugu/Onitsha Expressway.
The irony of it all, however, is that these measures have not stopped road accidents as even the speed breakers end up breaking up at some parts, leaving, in most cases, the nails used to fix them to the road sticking out and consequently puncturing vehicle tyres.
This causes more damage and inconvenience to the road user. In other words, the breakers are not serving the purposes for which they were fixed.
It is important for the state government to therefore endeavour to get to the root of the factors that bring about the increased rate of these accidents in the state and also embark on measures that will help in avoiding further occurrences.
Governor Willie Obiano once set up a panel to investigate the cause or causes of the Upper Iweka accident. The high powered panel, which was headed by the Hon. Commissioner for Transport, had the Commissioner for Health, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Commandant of the Management of the Anambra State Traffic Agency, the State Commandant of the Federal Road Safety Corps and a Representative of the Nigerian Police Force as members.
It is expedient for them to come up with a formidable report and ideas to reduce the accident rates on our roads. The breakers, for instance, should be replaced by real concrete bumps along the expressway. They may inconvenience motorists but will also keep them safe, especially in areas where there are slopes.
Motorists should also be conscious of their speed limits as most fatal accidents are caused by excessive speeding. We all have a role to play in curbing these avoidable road mishaps and it is of utmost importance that we see it as a collective responsibility in order to save ourselves from painful, horrific and untimely deaths.