The UN World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is commemorated around the globe on the third week of November each year – to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected. It is also a Day on which we thank the emergency services and reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster to families, communities, and countries, and on ways to halt it. Every year, GreenLight Initiative organizes different road safety public enlightenment event in Nigeria to commemorate this day and raise awareness on the safe use of the road
According to global status report released in December 2018 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of roads traffic deaths continue to rise steadily, reaching 1.35 million annually, these indicate that progress to realize Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.6 – which calls for a 50% reduction in the number of road traffic deaths by 2020 – remains a mirage. Road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years and the 8th leading cause of death globally, this is unacceptable as all of these deaths are all preventable and avoidable deaths.
According to WHO, low and middle-income countries like Nigeria have 1% of the world’s registered vehicles but account to more than 13% of all traffic fatalities in the world. In Nigeria, it is no longer news that road traffic crashes have continued to remain the highest means of violent deaths taking the lives of many and causing huge economic losses to the tune of more than the Nigerian annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
The recent case of the Onitsha tanker explosion and much other traffic crashes further explained the catastrophe effects associated with the use of road transport in Nigeria, this is happening in a time when more than 70% of the Nigerian economic activities are largely hinged on-road transportation
The urgent need to declare road safety a state of an emergency has never been more pronounced other than now- we are losing our brothers, mothers, siblings, friends, properties and means of livelihoods to road traffic crashes, this must never be allowed to continue.
We therefore use this opportunity to call on all road management agencies including policymakers to rise up to the challenges of road safety and step up efforts in ensuring that all road users are safe while using the road. Road safety best practices are not alien to us; the Nigeria government can adopt and firmly implement Vision Zero policy in Nigeria. Vision Zero approach should not only be implemented during the yuletide period but rather be spread all around the year.
We also call on multilateral, fleets and tanker owners to intensify and join the road safety fight. They can support the efforts of road management agencies by increasing budgetary allocation to cater for consistent training of their drivers, public safety enlightenment, and support the government in road construction and maintenance.
The theme of this year’s World Day of Remembrance is “Life is not a Car Part”. To mark this year’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims in Nigeria, GreenLight Initiative has partner different organization to organize a Hike for Traffic Safety. The Hike for Traffic Safety program seeks to draw interest in road safety especially among young people; sensitize the public on road safety, and stimulate attention to the critical risk factors associated with road traffic fatalities albeit within a fun and congenial atmosphere. The program further strives to support the attainment of the Decade of Action and Global Road Safety agenda as enshrined in the SDG 3.6 and 11.2.
GreenLight Initiative is a nonprofit that works to improve road safety in Nigeria through training, awareness creation, public enlightenment, and the implementation of evidence-backed interventions.
Simon Patrick Obi, Executive Director, GreenLight Initiative