OPERATING RESPONSIBLY, COMMUTING SAFELY DURING EMBER MONTHS & BEYOND8 min read
An Analysis (Dissection Or X-Ray) Of Why Commuters, As Well As Operators, Need To Be Safety Conscious In All The Available Modes Of Transportation In Nigeria, Which Are Now Converging To The Intermodal Model: Responsibilities Of The Passenger, Road Safety Enforcement Agents, Road Traffic Management Agencies, Water Guards, Marine Police, Railway Police, Various Airport Security Operatives, And So On.
By: – Afolabi O. ADEDEJI
In the context of this Article, the word safety is being interpreted as, freedom of the passenger from fear. These may be worries about the possibility of coming to personal harm from an accident, inadequate knowledge of how to behave, possible malfunction of gadgets whilst in motion (embarking or disembarking), damage to valuable personal items, external attack from marauders, armed robbers or pirates, and in recent times, activities of terrorists. You and I have a part to play in ensuring our safety. We should not shift all the responsibility for it to third parties.
When loss of valuable items, injury or death occurs in any part of our Transportation system, there are material costs associated with such incidents. Insurance Policy cover may help to mitigate the effect of such losses through prompt payment of claims for compensation. However, a school of thought believes that any attempt to place a value on human life is morbid! The bad publicity may also lead to loss of patronage or a boycott of a route perceived to be risky or hazardous.
An illustrative case is the security breach that occurred on the Abuja to Kaduna Railway Route within the last three (i.e. 3Nos.) months. It was followed by a sharp and sudden drop in public patronage of this route, which used to be a cash cow or money-spinner. A Press Statement had to be issued from the Office of Nigeria’s President, saying that henceforth, an electronic surveillance system will be deployed to monitor and protect the Railway Tracks, Coaches, Passengers, Stations, and so on. Even this reassurance from the President has not brought back the passengers in expected high volume.
When we remember that Loans have been utilized to procure a lot of our Transportation Infrastructure and that these have to be repaid, the wide ramification of the consequences begins to sink in more clearly.
Britain has always been a favourite Holiday Destination for many Nigerians. Right from the 1970s when the Bombing Campaign of the IRA (i.e. Irish Republican Army) was at its peak, residents and visitors alike, of all ages in London,
Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, and other major cities in England, were encouraged to alert the Law Enforcement Agencies, whenever they sight unattended Baggage at the Airport, Train Station, Bus Stop, Recreational Park or other public places, for longer than say 3 to 5 minutes. More recent lessons from the Al-Qaeda campaign, as well as IS (i.e. Islamic State) have further driven home this basic point in the United Kingdom. It is worth applying in Nigeria where the activities of Boko Haram are getting deadlier and increasing in sophistication.
A modern Jetty in Lagos State
A. The Road Transportation Mode
- Commuters in Private Passenger Cars should fasten their seat belts, and ask about how Air Bags function in the possible event of accidents.
- Now that the festive seasons of Christmas and the New Year 2022 are fast approaching, the Federal Road Safety Commission (‘FRSC’), as well as Beverage Giants such as Coca-Cola, Seven-Up Bottling Company, La Casera, Nigerian Breweries Plc, etc., should resume their usual campaign for Driver’s to abstain from alcohol consumption when on the Road.
- The Road Traffic Management Agencies, such as LASTMA and LAMATA in Lagos should encourage Road Users to make more effort to understand Road Signs, and follow them. Vehicles should slow down at Zebra Crossings, especially when School Children and the elderly are about to cross the Road.
- Please observe Speed Limits, particularly in built-up areas of urban centers. A witty epigram I found somewhere, which captures this succinctly goes thus; ‘it is better to arrive late than to be dead on time’!
- It is good to be helpful to others, but please mind how you give lifts to strangers. Likewise, in these days of abductions and kidnappings, please mind how you accept lifts from strangers.
- Bus Operators should be encouraged to keep a manifest of their passengers, especially on long distance journeys and inter-city Routes.
- The compliance is still lax concerning loading capacity of Buses being kept to a maximum of 75% to curtail the spread of the Covid – 19 Pandemic. Something has to be done about this.
- A common inscription in Yoruba Language that is written in privately operated Buses, otherwise known as Danfo and Molue in Lagos is; “wole ki o joko; toju eru e”! Meaning, ‘please enter and have a seat; take good care of your belongings’. This point is self-explanatory.
B. The Water Transportation Mode
- Commuters in Boats, Barges, Ferries, and other vessels for water transportation should please wear a safety vest. If there is trouble and a boat capsizes, the vest will keep you afloat and alive until help arrives.
- Those operating the Boats, especially the Captain, should abstain from alcohol consumption while at work, as well as other stimulants, and Herbal Remedies, which are often preserved in alcohol.
- Government guidelines relating to speed limits, permissible engine capacity for speed boats, and rules against travel on waterways at night should be followed. The Governor of Bayelsa State has this year 2021, imposed a curfew against travel at night on waterways in his domain. A similar ban has been in place for a little longer than that in Lagos State to stop night travel on the waterways therein.
- Petrol stored in kegs, large quantities of Local Gin (i.e. Ogogoro, Sapele Water, ‘404’, push me; I push you, Akpeteshi, and so on) should not be transported by Boat, except strict rules of safety that apply to highly inflammable substances are observed.
- A manifest of passengers should always be kept by those managing and operating the Ferry Service.
- Fire Extinguishers and basic communication equipment for summoning help when there is distress should be kept in good working condition on the water transportation vessel.
- Inhabitants of coastal areas, as well as riverine communities, should be very observant, and report the presence of suspicious persons as well as their shady activities to the Marine Division of the Nigeria Police. They should not harbour criminals. Neither should they buy or receive stolen goods. These basic tips will help to curtail Piracy on our waterways.
- Overloading (of goods and persons) has been a very common cause of Boat Accidents in Nigeria’s Inland Waterways. Water Guards should rise up to this challenge and stop the menace
C. The Railway Transportation Mode And Air Travel
Again, Commuters should fasten their seat belts. Normal exits and entrances, as well as emergency Exits should be kept clear of Baggage and personal effects. Respect the ‘No Smoking’ areas and compartments. Many of the points highlighted above are also applicable to Railway Transportation and Air Travel. The Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), currently led by Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, (Rtd.), has her operatives present at many of our Airports. So also does NAPTIP (i.e. the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons).
Likely Impact Of COVID – 19 Protocol Laxity On Travel: Rationale For Subsid
As far as practicable, we should all endeavour to follow the Health Guidelines being issued from time to time regarding curtailment of the spread of the corona virus. Around the location of my Office in Victoria Island, Lagos, Bus Operators are still loading their vehicles to full capacity, rather than the 75% limit suggested by the Health Authorities. Compliance on this point may amount to a slight loss in revenue. Should a subsidy scheme be implemented to encourage wider compliance by Bus Operators in Lagos?
Many people in Lagos find it uncomfortable to wear their Nose Masks at all times. They are still being selective about when and where to wear their Nose Masks. As President Muhammadu Buhari once said, ‘the covid – 19 pandemic, is not a joke’. We should all snap out of this apparent denial syndrom
An international Media organization recently admitted that there is a dearth of Journalists who have deep knowledge of Medical matters. Not many of them have the capacity to sieve the grain from the chaff, concerning information handed out to the Public by Pharmaceutical Companies on this Pandemic problem and the vaccination for it. Perhaps, more Medical Advisory Committees consisting of medically knowledgeable volunteers, should be raised by our Media Houses.
Unconfirmed Reports indicate that Nigerian Travellers on international flights at our Airports are corrupting Officials with cash gifts so as to avoid Mandatory Medical Tests as well as Quarantine Periods, regarding curtailment of the spread of the Covid – 19 Virus.
Conclusion, Recommendation, & Parting Shot
The panacea for many of our societal ills is the encapsulation of a clear vision for National Development, a passion for Nigeria’s march to greatness and a re-awakening of a true spirit of Patriotism that will be shared, bought into, and imbibed by the vast majority of our citizens – to such an intense fervour that we will do what is right even when nobody is looking over our shoulder. Even in the best-run countries, there are cases of deviant behaviour in approximately two to three per cent (2% to 3%) of the population, which is normally handled by the Law Enforcement Agencies/Social Workers. Where corruption is rampant (if not fashionable), will our Prison Cells at Kirikiri in Lagos, Gashua, Jos, Enugu, Agodi in Ibadan, etc., not become “overpopulated”? We have had a change of nomenclature.
Our Prison facilities are now known as ‘Correction Centres’. My female friend when I was a Civil Servant, who is now happily married (to another person) with her own children, in the year 2015, shortly after my Birthday, added the Prefix / Title – ‘PASTOR’ Folabi – to my name and requested for more “preaching”! I hope that you and members of your Editorial Team will not join her in teasing me.
What has a person really “gained” if [s]he cheats on a card game of Solitaire? Nothing at all. The earlier we all start doing things right, the better for this generation and yet unborn ones. I am not ‘pontificating’ here and please don’t call me ‘Pastor’ Afolabi. We have all it takes to provide a good quality of life for the vast generality of Nigerians, reduce Youth Unemployment, and so on. No one is going to come from ‘OUTSIDE’ to do it for us. Rather, we have to take our destiny into our own hands, support our Leaders, be Law-abiding. Pay our Taxes to the Government, etc.
Ensuring good Health and Safety while commuting to work, during journeys to school, places of worship, for recreation, and so on, is the responsibility of each and every one of us.
Long Live The Federal Republic Of Nigeria; May God Continue To Grant Wisdom To Our Rulers!
AUTHOR: -Engr. Afolabi O. ADEDEJI
B.Sc.(Hons.) Civil Engineering; M.Sc. (Construction Management); Executive MBA; FNSE; FCMI; MNIM
Afolabi Adedeji & Associates (‘AA&A’)
[Consulting & Training in Facilities Management, Business Support Services, Etc.]
No. 16A, Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos – Nigeria
Telephone: 0803 472 5858 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org