The Kwara State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) has expressed a dissimilar opinion with the officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Iver two recent car accidents at different spots within Kwara State which claimed over 30 lives.
The state FRSC Sector Commander, Mr. Jonathan Owoade and the chairman of the state chapter of NURTW, Alhaji AbdulRazak Ariwoola, disagreed on the causes of the crashes, in separate interviews with newsmen.
The accidents occurred at Jimba Oja, a town on the Ilorin/Kabba single lane road, claiming about 10 lives, and at Mokwa, a settlement on the expressway linking the state with Niger State, with casualties of 20 persons.
According to Owoade, the two crashes were caused by overloading, over-speeding, dangerous overtaking and fatigue of the drivers, occasioned by long overnight journeys.
The FRSC officer said: “If you noticed very well, you would discover that the crashes in question occurred at the early hours of the day, when ordinarily, the drivers would have been tired after a long driving.
“For instance, the one at Olooru, which involved a trailer and a Hummer passengers bus, was said to had taken off from Lagos State and was heading to Sokoto State same day. The accident occurred between 3:00am and 4:00am. All the passengers involved were burnt beyond recognition.”
He added that “the other one at Jimba Oja, directly opposite the University of Ilorin Sugar Research Building, was caused by overloading and excessive speeding of the driver. We had never supported night driving. Our advocacy is that any long distance driving by 7:00pm should be halted and resumed the next day at 6:00am.
“But unfortunately, our drivers don’t listen to this admonition. Aside the dangers inherent in night driving, vision is usually impaired in the night as drivers can’t see beyond certain distance. God designed night for man to rest. Many of the drivers on the road at night are on drugs to keep them awaken. It is better to be late than to be referred to as the late.”
Besides, Owoade, who believed that the rates of kidnapping and robbery could be reduced if the night driving is curtailed, noted that rescue operations by his officers at night each time there was a crash would usually involve armed men from sister security agencies, thereby making the job cumbersome.
He advised drivers embarking on long journeys to halt their trips after a stretch of four hours on the wheel, and exercise their legs before continuing.
Speaking on the development, the state chairman of the NURTW, though said neither of the two vehicles involved in the accidents was owned by his members, alleged that many drivers usually convey heavy luggage to avoid being extorted during the day by officers of the FRSC and the police on highway patrols.
Ariwoola, who declined comments on several other questions, citing directives from the national headquarters of the union, said consumption of alcohol by any of his members ‘on duty’ had since been outlawed for their safety and those of other road users.
He noted: “This is why the sale of alcohol within the motor park is no longer allowed. In fact, any of our members that is caught in the act is summarily expelled from the union. That is the extent we have taken campaigns against alcoholic consumption among our members while driving.”
For him, night journeys could be classified as any journey beyond 9:30pm, just as he canvassed for more prayers for all Nigerian road users to drastically reduce road crashes.
Mr Eze Ejike, a vehicle spare part dealer on the Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Ilorin, said any attempt to stop night travelling on Nigerian roads would spell doom for his business.
In the same vein, Elizabeth Sotonwa, operating a Bridal Shop at Maraba area of Ilorin, said the night travelling always fast-track the delivery of consignments to her customers and therefore, should not be outlawed.194