Greed of drivers is major cause of road accidents in Ogun – TRACE

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TRACE officers on the road

Ogun State is one of the 36 states in Nigeria, located in the southwestern part of the country. It has a growing population of over 7 million people and serves as a gateway between Lagos and other parts of the country. With this growing population comes an increase in traffic on its roads, which can lead to congestion, accidents, and delays. 

To further enhance the traffic control system in Ogun State, the state government also 2005 established a Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE) which is responsible for controlling traffic, responding to accidents, and enforcing traffic laws and regulations.

TRACE officers on the road

However the state, according to the Statista research department, during the fourth quarter of 2021 was registered with the highest number of road accidents.

The state had around 286 crashes, which was closely followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which had 280 road accidents. In contrast, the states of Bayelsa and Katsina had the lowest number of road traffic accidents.

Speaking to the Trace Public Relations officer, Babatunde Akinbiyi, he ascribed the major cause of these road crashes to the selfishness and greed of drivers.

“Yes, there is a school of thought that excessive speed is one of the major causes of road traffic crashes. I wouldn’t say accidents because most of them are not unforeseen, what we have mostly is crashes because it is caused by you and It’s because of our greed and selfishness.

“We are too selfish and greedy and highly indisciplined in this part of the world. You’ll be surprised at most of these traffic infractions and unfortunately, the elites are also involved.

He maintained that aside from excessive speed, bad tires, drunk driving, and route violations are also contributors to the menace.

“Driving in a direction prohibited by traffic, which is one way, is also another major cause of road traffic crashes, especially by articulated vehicles. 

“The President Muhammadu Buhari expressway, formerly known as Kobape-Siun Sagamu interchange. At least in a day, you record two or three crashes. 

He stressed that although there is an improvement in the state, road users need to be educated on why they must be physically and mentally fit before embarking on a journey.

“It is almost 18 years now since we came on board so the level of awareness has increased over time, compared to when TRACE wasn’t established, the way or manner people conduct themselves on the road has also improved, even though it’s not where we are, it hasn’t reached the peak of where we want it to be or expected to be as a Compliance and Enforcement Agency. 

“Because it’s not all about enforcement of traffic laws or regulation it is also about compliance. When I say compliance, I mean it is also about education, and sensitive information, because there are four E’s in traffic management, call it engineering, education, enforcement, and evaluation, engineering has to do with the word construction, and the traffic furniture you place on the road, whereby the application is for you to teach people how to use the rules, understand, you have to teach them how they use the road.

“Some of the traffic punishers you’ve seen don’t know signs and signals, and you also have to tell them what it means so when we have done all these as they still don’t comply, then that is when you now enforce.

While emphasizing that the prevention of road crashes begins with the individual, he urged all to be cautious and use all sense organs when driving.

“Safety starts from you as a person. Yes, because you are the owner, you are in charge. There are three causes of accidents. The human factor is man, the mechanical factor is the vehicle, and the environmental factor which is the road. And in these three, man is central because you are the one that drives the vehicle. You know the condition of the vehicle. You know the terrain and you know the nature of the road. 

“So if you are safety conscious, with your self-trust, are you medically okay?  Are you psychologically balanced? Are you emotional? It’s because you use all your senses to drive.

“Eyes to see, nose to smell if the wiring is melting, you use your hands to handle the wheels, your buttocks to sit, your legs to accelerate. So you use all your senses to drive. If by chance one is impaired for whatever reason, you are in a crash waiting for somewhere to happen.

“Know that the safe driver is one who leaves and gets home safely without any hitches. But the greatest challenge we have on the road is you and I. We are the greatest challenge on the road, we know the rules, we know the regulations, but we are not following them. We are using our own judgments. 

Speaking about measures put in place to sanction offenders, Akinbiyi explained that what they do is not punitive, but rather more corrective. 

“ I won’t say a punishment as it were. Because if we are to punish, then it will go much more than that. It’s corrective. Not every infraction that you commit on the road will make you go through the rigors of counseling, fine or whatnot. There are some that on the spot receive corrections.

“As a first-time offender, you can be left off the hook, for those apprehended you come to the office, we have a counseling unit where we educate and let them know what they have done wrong.

“We are a data-driven organization. We have details of people that we arrest. Some people will be surprised when we tell them certain things.So that is what we do, basically, for infringement of traffic rules and regulations. And if you are not too comfortable with whatever we charge you for. You can go to court. Yes. We also prosecute.

The agency’s spokesperson also urged drivers to always check their vehicles before leaving the house, and avoid using tires for more than its expiration date (four years) while those with eye problems should avoid driving late in the night or while it’s raining.

Meanwhile, OgunWatch while speaking to some drivers and motorcyclists gathered that although the TRACE officers are doing their best some among them are known for the exploitation of these drivers.

An anonymous motorcyclist (Okada) disclosed that these officers, especially at the Panseke roundabout are just there looking for ways to collect money.

“These officers are not trying at all. Yes, we know they are doing their jobs but let them do it well. They should stop looking for unnecessary things to hold us down with” 

OgunWatch in an interview with the state’s PRO of the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), Aremo Agunbiade noted that the association gets thousands of worrisome reports from the bike men and this affects the day-to-day running of their activities.

“We get reports from our bike men that they are always stopped by TRACE officers and this affects the day-to-day running of our activities.

“It is an extortion from these trace officers, most of these things are not even known by their senior officials.

“If we are to be truthful with ourselves, there is no way a bike man will not carry more than one. But it shouldn’t be more than two, you understand. It’s either they carry one passenger or two passengers at most.

“And it’s not in every situation, you understand. So if you are going somewhere with your daughter or if you are going with your husband would you take two separate bikes?  when one can contain you both and the bike man knows he has to limit his speed. So what are we saying? But carrying three is against our rules in ACOMORAN.

“These officers fail to remember that the larger percentage of the money we realize in our union is being paid to the internal revenue services (IRS) we are also generating money for the government. So if the people that we are paying their salaries start to affect our production field, we know that it might be hard to meet up with the demands from the government” he added.

Agunbiade while appealing to the motorcyclists to avoid following one-way, excessive speed and overloading, urged them to observe and obey all traffic rules.

He also called on the state government to look into these officers who might be exploiting road users rather than doing their jobs.

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