By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
An Islamic human rights outfit, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has decried the frequency of accidents on Nigerian expressways. The group lamented the high human toll and blamed the trend on the failure of construction companies to mark the lanes on expressways. The group called on the construction companies to place more value on human lives than the money they make from road contracts.
This was contained in a press statement issued by the Director of the human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Friday, 5th June, 2020.
“We are greatly worried by the current trend whereby road building companies fail to mark the lanes on expressways. Indeed, we are perturbed that most of the culprits are foreign companies. Does it mean that they do not care about Nigerian lives? Is this how expressways are left unmarked in their own countries?
“Construction companies handling road projects now have the habit of leaving the expressways unmarked thereby making it difficult for drivers to stay on their lanes and to know when they foray into other lanes. The failure of the road builders to demarcate the lanes with white bold paints has been largely responsible for several accidents not only on Lagos-Ibadan expressway but also on many other expressways across the country.
“But it is most pronounced on Lagos-Ibadan expressway. For example, five people were killed in a fatal accident which occurred near Danco Petrol Station, Shagamu on Lagos-Ibadan expressway on Saturday, 30th May, 2020. Nine other people were critically injured in the accident. Four people had died while four others sustained injuries three days earlier in another accident which occurred around Pipeline Junction, Ogere, on the same Lagos-Ibadan expressway. It is a daily occurrence.
“The statistics are stunning. According to the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) an average of 12 people died daily in 2019 in road accidents across Nigeria. 28,195 people died in road accidents in 68 months. 5,400 people died in 12,077 road accidents in 2015. Nigeria had 11,363 accidents in 2016 with 5,063 fatalities. There were 10,026 accidents in 2017 with 5,049 deaths. 2,598 Nigerians died in road accidents between October 2017 and March 2018.
“We strongly condemn this waste of human life. It is careless, inhuman and very irresponsible for construction companies to build expressways without marking the lanes. Why do you think road signs are placed in strategic places in cities? Is it not for the purpose of guiding motorists as well as pedestrians? Marked lanes also serve the purpose of guiding motorists, keeping them steadily on their lanes, warning them regarding where they can or cannot overtake, alerting them to dangerous bends ahead and generally making the road safe for all.
“It is therefore high time construction companies demonstrated care for Nigerians by marking lanes on expressways. MURIC places high value on human life. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is concerned because Islam as a religion places high premium on human life. Nigerians are not cheap chickens whose lives do not matter. Every Nigerian life is vital to the nation’s economic development.
“We are calling the attention of the federal and state governments to the proliferation of road accidents particularly on expressways. We are also putting the blame squarely on companies who fail to demarcate expressway lanes in conformity with global best practices. While we acknowledge the giant strides made by the Buhari administration in infrastructural development, the failure of expressway builders to demarcate lanes may whittle down the huge success achieved in this direction.
“We charge road-builders to add a human face to their profession. They should show some modicum of concern for the lives of Nigerians, not just the money they expect from the contracts. The safety and dignity of the Nigerian must be respected by all construction companies at all times.”