By Steve Unegbu
The Governor of Abia state,Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has reiterated Abia state government’s commitment to improving road safety in the state.
Governor Ikpeazu who made this known at the occasion of the 2021 Ember Months Campaign Flag-off by the Federal Road Safety Corps RS9.3 Abia State Sector Command,held at Abia line transport company park Umuahia, congratulated the entire management and staff of FRSC on the commendable roles being played by “ensuring safety on our roads and reducing road traffic crashes and fatality in the State”
The Governor who was represented by the Abia state Commissioner for works , Barrister Bob Ogu , said the state government has been in synergy with the FRSC in Abia state to ensure that road audits are regularly conducted and road infrastructures provided.
According to him , ” The Abia state government is among the eight (8) states that inaugurated the State Road Safety Advisory Council (SARSAC) ,thereby demonstrating her strength and position as a critical stakeholder in the implementation of the Nigerian Road Safety Strategy II ( NRSS) of 2021-2030.
” My administration has shown commitment in improving road safety by embarking on massive road construction and rehabilitation in the State”
He noted that the theme of this year’s Ember Months Flag-off campaign ” Maintain Speed ,Avoid Night Travels and Enjoy Quality Road Experience” is well -coined as it is in tandem with the long term plan of promoting life by providing good road infrastructures and construction of roads across the state to improve the quality of road experience.
He further informed that Ember Months are the last four months in the year and they are the same with every other month in the year,adding that the difference, however is that human and vehicular movements are usually high which sometimes result in road traffic crashes and avoidable deaths ,hence the need to maintain speed and avoid night journey as victims of road traffic crashes do not receive assistance due to the prevailing security situations across the country as well as poor state of some of the highways.
Continuing ,the Governor hinted that contrary to the erraneous beliefs held by members of the public that there are blood-sucking demons on the roads during the Ember Months,the belief is Wrong because ” if we drive slowly and carefully ,we will get to our destination safely ,this is because accidents do not just happen ,they are caused .
He , therefore ,urged all road users in Abia state to obey all traffic rules and regulations these Ember Months and beyond, resisting traveling at night , avoid speeding, overload, avoid dangerous drive , avoid the use of phone while driving,do not drink and drive , saying that the need to drive safely and save lives by all drivers and other road users can not be over emphasized as safety is everybody’s business.
Addressing crowd of motorists at Abia line park Umuahia, the General commanding officer, Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi , represented by the zonal commanding officer, RS9 ACM Owoimaha Francis Udoma , said the Ember Months Flag-off campaign is an avenue to refresh the memories of the road users on the dangers of bad road usage and measures to take to ensure safety on the road especially in Ember Months.
According to him , ” During the Ember Months, motorists tend to ‘ double their hustle’ for the Yuletide season.By doing so ,the virtues of patience , safety ,rule-adherence , caution, responsibility ,etc are thrown away or sacrificed at the altar of quick money and drive to acquire material things they could not achieve since the beginning of the year.This ‘mad rush’ brings about increased human and vehicular movements that raise the tendency of road traffic crash -related injuries and deaths .
” The corps in her bid to reduce if not eradicate road traffic crashes , therefore came up with various strategies in order to ensure the safety of road users and also reduce severity index to the barest minimum, which is manifested in this flag off ceremony being conducted by the command today with the theme ” Maintain Safe Speed, Avoid Night Travels and Enjoy Quality Road Experience”
He informed that the campaign is to make road users understand that road crashes do not have any special link with ‘Ember Months’ aside the poor attitude of drivers/road users, adding that ” we should not blame road crashes on Ember Months or blood sucking demons on the highway,but as a result of speeding,non -adherence to traffic rules and regulations, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,use of phone while driving,tyre violations , obstruction ,bad roads , indiscriminate parking of vehicles, dangerous overtaking amongst others “
Earlier in his speech, the Sector Commander RS9.3 Abia State Sector Command, Corps Commander Paul .I .Ugwu , said the campaign is targeted at minimizing the risk of death by reducing road traffic crashes by 15% and fatality by 20% in line with 2021 FRSC corporate strategic Goals.
He revealed that the available Road Traffic Crash records in the State from January to September 2021 showed that 75 road traffic crashes were recorded ,28 were fatal ,38 were serious,9 were minor and 54 persons were killed while 226 persons were injured .
He opined that from the records , percentage of crashes , injuries and deaths are usually very high apparently due to heavy traffic volume and poor driving habits of motorists,adding that it necessary to enlighten and or advise ourselves on the need to reduce speed.