Needless loss of lives and destruction of valuable infrastructure on the Nigerian roads – GreenLight Initiative calls on New Government to prioritize road safety, safe and sustainable mobility.
29 March 2023
Transportation drives our economy as more than 80% of national activities which includes food, health, social well-being, etc are largely hinged on road transportation; however, road transportation has remained the deadliest way to move from Point A to Point B. On the 9th of March 2023, Nigerians were awash with the news of the horrific traffic crash involving a bus and a train around the Ikeja axis of Lagos. This is one of many kinds of road crashes that bedevil our nation and continue to occur on our roads daily. Road transport is characterized by so many incidences of traffic crashes mainly caused by human factors, poor road designs, and low-safety vehicles.
According to the global status report by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 39802 people are killed on Nigerian roads annually. The report adjudged Nigeria as one of the most dangerous countries on the road with an estimated death rate of 21.4 per 100000 population compared with that of the entire Europe which stands at 9.3 per 100,000 population. Empirical statistics suggest that road traffic crashes continue to remain the leading source of violent death. This is unacceptable as road crashes are all preventable and avoidable. We know what works, to feign ignorance about the solution to road safety is the worst form of deception and betrayal of trust from the government at all levels.
Road traffic crashes take a toll on countries’ economic situations. According to a World Bank report, countries that fail to prioritize road safety lose up to 5% of their annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The report further indicates that low and middle-income countries that fail to invest in road safety will become even poorer due to the economic losses associated with traffic crashes.
Similarly, the transport sector has been recognized as one of the biggest contributors to climate change accounting for 37% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are contributing to climate issues. A recent study shows a clear linkage between ground-level ozone pollution caused by vehicles and depression and mental health issues among adolescents alongside breathing issues. Therefore, transport decarbonization as well as increased focus on innovative vehicle technology, energy efficiency, active transport, and smart transit systems are imperative especially now that most countries are transitioning to clean energy. Nigeria has not yet prioritized clean and alternative sources of energy. Fossil fuel still remains our highest source of energy as over 80% of power generation still comes from gas.
It is no longer news that Nigeria and some low and middle-income countries are known for dumping grounds for used and unsafe vehicles. The European Union will ban the sales of fossil fuel cars from 2035. The task of achieving a safe, clean, and sustainable transport system is possible but the onus lies with the new government in terms of policy direction and priorities. We have the opportunity to turn around the looming crises in our best interest by prioritizing sustainable transport system. The best time to do that is now. The new government has the opportunity to make history with this.
It is therefore safe to say that, an investment in road safety will not only save lives and prevent needless injuries and morbidity but will also provide access to job opportunities, improve health care, as well as improve the prosperity, development, and economic sustainability of our nation. We are at the crossroad but the next government has the opportunity to make things right.
GreenLight Initiative therefore, calls on the new government to prioritize road safety, safe, and sustainable mobility by increasing investment and interventions as well as checkmating the quality and safety of autos that are allowed into the Nigerian market in order to ensure they meet the minimum star standard. When prioritized, safe and sustainable mobility will boost our lingering economy, strengthen the health system, create job opportunities, and stimulate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.
Registered as GreenLight Development Centre, GreenLight Initiative is a nongovernmental organization that promotes road safety, good health, safe and sustainable mobility in Africa.
Simon Patrick Obi, Executive Director for GreenLight Initiative.