The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has called for the deployment of high-tech speed monitoring gadgets on Nigerian highways, expressing fears that road traffic accidents might become the fifth most frequent cause of death worldwide.
The NEMA Director-General, Alhaji Muhammed Sani-Sidi, made the call at a workshop on basic emergency response management for members of major transport unions, held at the Red Cross Secretariat Hall in Benin City, Edo State.
Sani-Sidi said though the federal government was concerned about how to curb the rapidly increasing impact of disasters in the country, among the list is “human-induced hazards including and in this case, road traffic incidents.’’
Sani-sidi was represented by Mr. Benjamin Oghenah, NEMA South-south zonal coordinator
The DG said the incidents of road accidents was on the increase, quoting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) statistics as saying “about 3,500 traffic accident deaths occur daily, nearly the same as those of tuberculosis deaths and higher than the number of malaria deaths.
“Road traffic accidents is recognised as the 10th most frequent cause of death overall. If we don’t take action, injuries from road traffic accidents will be the fifth most frequent cause of death in the world by 2030.’’
Sani-Sidi, however, said: “Half of these accidents can be avoided if we succeed in revising the global trend and reduce the number of annual traffic deaths immediately.’’
The DG was quick to say that road safety management in Nigeria was faced with multiple challenges which range from road infrastructure, law enforcement and institutional capacity.
In his speech, the Edo State FRSC Sector Commander, Oluwasusi Familoni, while corroborating Sani-Sidi’s observations, implored all road users to abide at all times, with road traffic laws for their safety on the roads.
Familoni, who acknowledged reckless driving and misuse of sirens by some government officials, attributed the lack of political will on the part FRSC to apprehend such offenders.
Although he said there were certain categories of government personnel permitted to use the siren, the FRSC commander, however, urged Nigerians to be safety conscious at all times and to take advantage of FRSC free-toll numbers of either 112 or 122 on emergency situations.
Some of the stakeholders who participated in the workshop included representatives of major transport companies, FRSC, Edo State Traffic Management Agency, Red Cross and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) safety club while the officials of the NEMA rescue unit shared some rescue strategies with the participants.
Meanwhile, NEMA said it has delivered 540 metric tonnes of assorted relief items approved by the federal government to Nigerian refugees in the Republic of Niger who are taking shelter in different locations in the Diffa region.
The refugees fled to the country as a result of attacks by Boko Haram’s insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
A statement issued by a Senior Information Officer with NEMA, Mr. Sani Datti, said the items which included foods and non foods were meant to provide succour to Nigerian refugees, were handed over to the Governor of Diffa Region for onward distribution to beneficiaries.
The statement said the DG of NEMA, Sani-Sidi, in accompany with the Nigerian Ambassador to Republic Niger, Alhaji Aliyu Sokoto, Director General National Orientation Agency NOA), Mike Omeri, Secretary General Nigerian Red Cross, Bello Dharam, handed over the items through the Nigerian ambassador to Diffa Governor, Yakouba Saumana Gao.
Speaking during the presentation of the items, the Nigerian envoy, Sokoto, said as a result of unprecedented activities of Boko Haram in the North-eastern Nigeria, many Nigerian citizens from Borno and Yobe States especially those living close to the Nigeria-Niger border had crossed into Diffa region of Republic of Niger to seek for safety and protection of their dignity.
The ambassador said the government of Niger and its people had received them even at the detriment of their personal convenience and risk of the depleting their means of livelihood.
The NEMA DG said the Nigerian government was responding to the humanitarian crisis while at the same time working assiduously to end terrorism.
He said the president had directed NEMA to provide humanitarian relief to Nigerian refugees.
According to him, NEMA will continue to liaise with government of the Republic of Niger to ensure that all Nigerian refugees are living in better condition.
He thanked the Republic of Niger on behalf of the federal government for hosting and providing them with protection.