Road safety is everybody’s business

When we were young, whoever arrived my town, Ikeji-Ile Ijesa from Lagos or any of the big cities was regarded as special breed and such a person was given a special treat.

Therefore those of us who were graduating from secondary schools longed to live in any of the cities most especially Lagos; the city we thought was laced with gold.

I believe, this was so for inhabitants of other towns and villages which were not so close to Lagos. And I think till date, this notion is still true for after every New Year and Easter celebrations, you could see those who traveled out of Lagos coming back with one or two younger ones who might have dreamt of making a fortune in the Lagos.

These new arrivals no doubt contribute to overstretching of the infrastructure in the cities especially its transportation infrastructure which makes it require constant improvement.

The provision of the transportation needs of the populace however does not rest on only the federal and state governments, but it also rests on the local governments which officials in this clime are noted for forceful towing of vehicles even when the drivers are yet behind the wheels.

The officials are fond of arresting; detaining and illegal prosecution of those who dared crossed the expressway wherever there are provisions of pedestrian bridges. These acts of overzealous officials among several ugly other acts tend to give the local government a bad name!

And to awaken the spirit of council participation in road safety at the community level in Lagos State, we designed this workshop for their traffic management boards’ functionaries and sent out letters of invitation to the 57 local governments as well as the local council development areas’ helmsmen and women to sponsor their representatives to the workshop.

Ladies and gentlemen, the response was ZERO!

May be our honourable chairmen were convinced they had nothing to do with road safety?

But provision of transportation facilities is among the main duties of the local governments. If that is true, then how do you provide facilities for mobility without being concerned about its welfare and that of those using it?

Believe it or not, road safety is everybody’s business and the elected council officials being the immediate representatives of the communities in government, we believe should take road safety as most paramount in their schemes of priorities and serve diligently as effective link for their community’s participation in road safety programmes.
However, because we were not encouraged by the zero response of the outgoing local government helmsmen and women, we decided to enlarge the scope of this workshop to allow the participation of all stakeholders, while still making the local government a focal point from which Traffic Management has to start from for effective implementation as according to the 2004 WHO Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention recommendation; Safety features should be incorporated into land-use and transport planning while new road projects should be subjected to road safety audits.

This Traffic Management Workshop Initiative, the first of its kind in this clime is meant to update stakeholders about Modern Trends in Urban Traffic Control and Civil Relationship as well as to encourage local government councils to develop strategic plans for their road safety programmes to promote a council-wide approach to road safety.

It is also meant to provide a clear focus for other stakeholders to imbibe a long term framework and direction for achieving whatever goals that might be set at the end of today’s workshop.

The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which was launched in 2011 urged governments, business leaders and the public to support making roads safer.

In Nigeria, the federal government through the Federal Road Safety Commission is wholeheartedly committed to this and good enough, the Lagos State Government accepted safety of all Lagosians as a pointer to good governance with the establishment of Lagos State Safety Commission as well as its laudable efforts in building and reconstruction of new roads across the state.

This gathering ladies and gentlemen is also meant to support the government in contributing our quotas in continuing to put forward initiatives in reducing accident rates on our roads; which is the kernel of Traffic Safety Management.

Before I conclude this address, let me quickly on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Automobiles And Road Safety Initiative appreciate the sacrifice of the Special Guest of Honour, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation whom we all know is passionate about free flow of traffic across the state in finding time out of tight schedule to be here with us today. May God bless you sir!

The Resource Persons; honestly I don’t know how to thank you enough for accepting to honour us and the society at large by accepting to give this workshop the stuff you are made of without monetary consideration. Professor Samuel Iyiola Oni, Head, Geography Department, University of Lagos, Dr. Emmanuel E. Ege of the same department at UNILAG, Mr. Francis Famoroti, Judiciary Editor of National Mirror Newspapers, Mr. Francis A. Ehiguese, FCILT, the National Executive Director, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, the erudite people’s lawyer, Barrister Tayo Oyetibo and Barrister Olatunde Sanu of Medallion Intermediaries Limited who flown from his base in Abuja to Lagos purposely to deliver a paper at this workshop. I thank you all and pray that your contributions to impact positively on the society will not be in vain.

I thank other guests especially the chairman of today’s event, Mr. Fatai Kayode Lawal, the President, Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria who is also the Managing Director, Sterling Assurance of Nigeria, ACC John Mehuxe, the Zonal Commanding Officer of FRSC, Zone II comprising Lagos and Ogun States, Barrister Chidi Nkwonta, Lagos Sector Commander of the FRSC, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority, the management of the various companies which sponsored this project by way of placing Adverts in our Workshop’s Brochure, the Managing Directors, Chief Executives, Presidents, Chairmen and Executives of all different organizations herein present, gentlemen of the Press and you ladies and gentlemen too numerous to mention, but who have taken time off to add value to this event.

We are much more grateful to you all.

God bless and thanks for coming!

Welcome Address delivered by the President of Automobiles And Road Safety Initiative, Samuel Oloyede Oriowo at the First Urban Traffic Management Workshop in Lagos, Nigeria on Wednesday 28th May, 2014