• May be the root cause of most accidents — Safety Expert
On a sunny afternoon at Mile 2 Bus Park in the Amuwo-Odofin area of Lagos State, a commercial bus driver prepares to embark on an interstate trip.
His bus half full, he gestures to his assistant, otherwise known as the conductor, to buy him three sachets of a popular alcoholic drink, relatively alcoholic, from a small trader.
As soon as his assistant hands him the drinks, the driver drinks two of the sachets and keeps the last one somewhere on the dashboard. Commuters, patiently seated on the bus for the start of the journey, were also somewhat oblivious to what the driver had just done, except for one elderly man, who made some muffled protests and questioned the negligence of the driver. driver.
“You are about to drive us and you are drinking alcohol. It’s irresponsible of you, he said almost inaudibly. “But the driver quickly shouted it, saying it was none of his business.” They both argued for a while. But their altercation was quickly drowned out by the cacophony of noise around the bus stop.
Governments and agencies like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have conducted drink-driving campaigns in an effort to reduce traffic accidents. The campaign was based on the fact that the consumption of alcoholic beverages before or while driving predisposes drivers to the possibility of having road accidents. But many drivers ignored the campaign’s warnings.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that drink-driving is also encouraged by the continued sale of alcoholic beverages in parks across the states. This was confirmed by visits to a number of public and private bus stops, parks and garages in Lagos State.
The sale of alcoholic beverages of various sizes and brands is done openly, with many vendors vying for patronage with drivers and their motor-boys as their primary target. This is despite a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in car parks and bus stops in the state.
With alcoholic beverages packaged in various sizes, especially in sachets, they are convenient for commercial bus drivers and other shoppers, who often take the contents almost immediately after purchase. Similarly, since alcoholic beverages are now packaged in sachets, many commercial drivers and their drivers buy them and store them in their vehicles for consumption while traveling.
All of this and more is happening despite various campaigns against drink-driving. Some of these drivers and their boys, The Guardian has found, don’t stop there, as others even smoke marijuana and abuse substances, which are usually offered at car parks and sometimes at bus stops.
It was therefore not surprising to some Nigerians when the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, recently said that drivers were responsible for 70% of road accidents on the country’s highways.
The minister said that according to the data analyzed, three federal highways in the country had the highest number of victims. He listed them as the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Keffi-Lafia and Abuja-Kano highways, adding that if the number of accidents on the three highways had been reduced, the government would have succeeded in reducing the problem.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there were 13,027 road accidents in 2021. And on zonal bases, the North-Central recorded the highest number of road accidents with 4,056, followed from the southwest with 3,451.
Further analysis of BNS data showed that speeding violations were the most common cause of road accidents last year, followed by traffic sign violations and wrongful and then dangerous overtaking.
Additionally, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Lagos State said 101 people died while 625 were on
formed varying degrees of injuries in road accidents in Lagos between January and August 2021.
A resident, Abiona Abegunde, said it was shocking that alcoholic beverages were still sold freely in parks and bus stops with no one curbing these activities, given their negative implications. “It involves the lives and property of residents who move on a daily basis, but the government and its agencies appear to be negligent. Many private car owners in Lagos whose vehicles are bumped by commercial bus drivers often have a very negative and bitter experience as commercial drivers usually display a form of craziness when on the wheels. And an assessment of those drivers when they come to ask for forgiveness after vehicles have been damaged often reveals people wrapped in alcohol or other substances.
Commenting, the managing director of Tadafort Consulting, Gbenga Fisher, said that the state could do better to control the trade in alcoholic beverages in parks and garages, stating that alcohol and other substances that can be subject to of abuse should be limited to pubs and should not find their way to parks and squares in the public transport system.
“You can just imagine that these people are open to alcohol, and when they take it, what it can cause is glaring. Imagine a drunk driver on the wheels; he exposes many other road users to unnecessary accidents .
“We may not have data on this, but it has led to many accidents. It could be the root cause of many accidents that have happened. The sale of alcohol must be controlled; this n “It’s not a good idea to sell alcoholic beverages in parks. We can do better in terms of safety.
For Fisher, the sale of alcoholic beverages in parks and garages has other negative implications besides being the probable cause of accidents.
He said: “For example, we have touts and union ticket agents who, almost at all times, have a bag of liquor knocked into their pockets or their hands to be swallowed intermittently. And if you see the way these union leaders and touts harass drivers and their motor boys, forcing them to pay dues or extorting them, one might conclude that they are under the influence of alcohol. This is one of the negative aspects of selling alcohol in parks.
“There are also minors who could easily access alcoholic beverages as they are sold openly in parks and garages.”
According to Fisher, anyone can enter the parks, including minors, to buy alcoholic beverages and it’s an eyesore, which shouldn’t happen.
“These minors could misbehave and I think it should be more controlled than that. For example, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) can extend its services to parks; to ensure that drivers are not under any influence, enforcing and implementing journey management plans, as drivers move from location to location.This could also include random testing for drivers to ensure they are not under any influence .
Regarding the roles non-government stakeholders could play to curb the trend, Fisher said owners of private transportation companies with private fleets should not allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in their fleets.
He added that these stakeholders could implement a drug and alcohol policy that would prevent their drivers and even passengers from taking alcohol on their premises.
“This could include liquor sales being banned and no one in their parks. I think the application should be strengthened.
Fisher was optimistic that if various stakeholders and the government enforced a drug and alcohol policy system, it would greatly reduce the sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages in parks and garages.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Lagos Sector Commander, Corps Commander Olusegun Ogungbemide noted that the FRSC has never been in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in car parks.
He said that was the reason why many advocacy meetings were held with key stakeholders and management of various car parks, explaining to them the harms of drivers taking alcohol before leaving the parks during traffic. a trip, especially if drinks become convenient and readily available to them.
“We had a collaboration with a government agency some time ago, even in alliance with park managers where the directive was given that no alcohol should be sold around car parks. During this period, although she is available at all, she was not visible. With this information, I will have no choice but to travel to see what is happening and do the necessary intervention.
Ogungbemide noted that the FRSC is hampered by the fact that it cannot go to car parks to enforce the law, as it is not part of its mandate. “Ours is to wait on the highways to check the drivers blood alcohol level and once it is above 0.05%, which is allowed, we have the driver arrested and charged with driving under the influence. the influence of alcohol. Our mandate does not cover the arrest of those who sell alcoholic beverages in parks. I know the government has done a lot on this, there may be a laxity.”
Responding to the allegation that FRSC officers only focus on private vehicle owners, neglecting commercial drivers in the city, Ogungbemide said that was not true, revealing that an analysis of arrested offenders the last year showed that more than 50% of stopped vehicles were commercial vehicles. .
“We are making a smart app because in the cause of a commercial vehicle arrest if it leads to further danger and chaos why do I have to be desperate when I can take the number and send it to the fleet, and the fleet management can get the bus taken to the FRSC office. Naturally, a private car owner wouldn’t want to take any chances; he would obey the rules. But a commercial driver would want to get away and want the bus. Arresting in desperation can turn the public against our officers, so why do you have to chase after such a vehicle and driver when there is technology to track it.
For his part, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said the state government had actively discouraged the sale of alcohol in parks and garages. He added that there is a department within the Office of Civic Engagement which preaches against alcohol and drug abuse in car parks just as the Ministry of Youth and Social Development also advocates. He however said that it is not that the government is not bothered, but the government cannot sit in the parks for 24 hours.