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Nigeria Introduces Stricter Road Safety Rules After Crash


The Nigerian government has announced plans to enforce stricter safety regulations in a bid to stem spiraling road accidents. Gilbert da Costa reports for VOA from Abuja the announcement follows an accident that killed at least 30 people on a busy highway in Southern Nigeria.

Traffic accidents are frequent in Nigeria, where roads are riddled with potholes; drivers drive recklessly and disregard traffic rules.

Nigeria has one of the highest mortality rates in road traffic accidents, with more than 5,000 killed each year.

Jolted by the death of at least 30 people in Monday's road crash, Nigeria's road safety agency announced the introduction of a new plan to enforce safety on Nigerian roads.

"We are not tolerating these types of accidents," said Yakubu Attah, the spokesman of the agency. "It is becoming frequent and the year is going to run out, the fatality is very high."

"We on our part, the chief executive Osita Chidoka is inviting all stakeholders in the transport industry for a meting, for the immediate implementation of the road transport safety standardization scheme that was recently launched. Even though this was supposed to take effect from January 2008, with the spate of increase, we are forced to commence implementation," he added.

Most Nigerian motorists have never taken driving lessons because a license can be bought easily. Attah says the agency plans to withdraw all licenses for recertification because at least half of them were faked.

"The new initiative is such that all vehicle operators that have more than five vehicles in their fleet must register with the FRSC [Federal Road Safety Corp]," said Attah. "They must have safety managers, the vehicles must be of standard. All vehicles will be subjected to checks on Nigerian highways every Saturday. We are going to invite all owners of drivers' license to rectify them, because 50 percent of them are faked."

A fully loaded tanker truck overturned and caught fire while traffic was tied up during the rush hour early Monday on the Lagos-Ibadan highway. A huge fireball spread to three commuter buses and four cars.

Several survivors are in critical condition in local hospitals. Officials are investigating the crash.