Against the backdrop of the reaction of a member of the Ekiti State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to pronouncement made by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) over the root cause of a recent road crash, the FRSC has said that it stands by its statement as, according to the Corps, it is credible.
Following the crash, which claimed the lives of six medical doctors and a driver, the FRSC attributed the cause of the accident to over speeding. But, a member of the NMA, Dr. Ekundare Folu and a colleague, in a newspaper publication, described FRSC’s claims as unfounded, a submission that has apparently not gone down well with the Corps, which on Thursday attempted “to clear the air and put the facts straight.”
Head, Media Relations and Strategy of the Corps, Bisi Kazeem, while conveying FRSC’s “sincere condolence to the families and friends of the victims of the road crash,” noted that pronouncement made by the Corps on any crash is always based on technical investigation carried out by a unit of safety engineers domiciled in every Command of the FRSC spread nationwide.
His words: “Under the present circumstances, it is unfair for Dr Ekundare to describe the genuine intent of the Corps to establish the remote and immediate causes of the fatal crash, in partial fulfilment of its statutory mandate, as ‘distasteful and derogatory given the helplessness of the victims at the scene of the accident’.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Kazeem explained further: “As the nation’s lead agency on road safety management and traffic administration, the onus lies on the FRSC to immediately investigate any road traffic crash and come up with recommendations which could assist in forestalling future occurrence. It will be recalled that the Corps has undertaken similar exercise after previous road traffic crashes such as the recent fatal crash which claimed the lives of former Minister of State for Labour and members of his family, Mr. James Ocholi.
“Findings from the same fatal crash also threw up the need for the Nigerian motoring public to strictly adhere to road traffic regulations bordering on compulsory use of rear seat belts by occupants of a moving vehicle, in line with the National Road Traffic Regulations, 2016.
“This investigation, which is in line contemporary global standards, seeks to establish some factors such as mechanical status of the vehicle, tyres, road condition and, possibly, the psychological state of the driver prior to the auto crash.
“It is also unfair to assert that the Corps’ operatives arrive late at the scene of the road crash but were also reluctant to take the victims to the hospital. The Corps has always lived up to its resolve to prioritise rescue operations in the event of a road crash. It is also on record that the FRSC has, through its Call Centre, maintained seamless interface with road users and has reduced its response time to road crashes and other traffic-related matters to 15 minutes.
“For avoidance of doubt, our nearest Unit Command to the scene of the crash, Katari Unit, got a distress call about the fatal auto crash on 24th April 2016 at 16.32 hrs ( 6.32pm) and our rescue team from Katari arrived the scene at exactly 16.42hrs (6.42pm), thus our men arrived there 10 minutes after the crash and was supported by another team at Doka to assist in taking the victims (dead and injured) to St. Gerald Hospital in Kaduna where the Kaduna State Sector Command immediately took over the matter.
“The Kaduna State Sector Commander, Corps Commander Francis Ugboma, also visited the hospital to monitor the status of the injured victims and condole with the bereaved. It was at the hospital that the Sector Commander put a call through to the FRSC Corps Marshal who also spoke to Dr. Akinbote, the Chairman of Ekiti State NMA, and commiserated with the NMA and bereaved families.
“From the words of Dr Ekundare, he was consistently monitoring the acceleration of the driver whenever he hits 110km/hr, ‘I was in the same vehicle, sitting in the row behind the driver and I checked the speedometer from time to time. The bus also makes a beeping sound once the speed exceeds 110km/hr. Let me state categorically that the bus driver was not speeding.’ It is rather unfortunate for him to conclude that a bus which was consistently exceeding the recommended 90km/hr, was not on a high speed.
“Much as we do not wish to join issues with Dr Ekundayo on his submissions, it is instructive to disclose at this juncture that our investigations revealed that while the vehicle was in motion, the right rear tyre which was a Bridgestone brand manufactured in 2008, blew up, indicating that the tyre which has expired since 2012, was not roadworthy. The remaining two tyres were manufactured in 2014 while one tyre was churned out this year. It was also discovered that, out of the three tyres, one had patch marks. It is obvious that the driver’s acceleration rate constituted to excessive speeding, sudden tyre burst and somersault of the bus.
“In the same vein, we frown at Dr Ekundare’s assertion that the FRSC uses road crashes of this nature to further propagate its on-going initiative on the speed limiting device. It is already a global knowledge that speed limiting device plays vital role in reducing road traffic crashes associated with speed limit violation and this underscores the position of the United Nations on the need for concrete but decisive steps to be taken by member nations to address the menace of speed induced road traffic crashes as we march towards realising the UN decade of action on road safety 2011-2020.
“Disturbed by this unfortunate development, the FRSC Corps Marshal had after commiserating with the Ekiti State Executive Governor, convened a stakeholders summit on tyre with a commitment to re-launch a nationwide tyre awareness campaign as part of measures to reinvigorate public consciousness on the tyre care, routine checks, avoidance of tokunbo tyres and to organise training sessions for vulcanisers to further inject order and decorum in their activities.
“While we still commiserate with bereaved families, the NMA and the people of Ekiti State over the unfortunate incident, we wish to reiterate our commitment to enthrone safer road culture for the Nigerian motoring public.”