As part of efforts to stem vehicular accidents during the festive period, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, has flagged off the 2019 Ember Months Special Patrol and mega rally in Calabar, Cross River State capital, southern Nigeria.
The Ember Months campaign, as it is also known, is an annual event designed by the FRSC in its bid to end the incessant cases of death on Nigerian roads particularly during festive season and towards the end of the year.
Flagging off the rally, which has as its theme ‘Road Safety is Presence of Mind; Road Traffic Crash is Absence of Mind, Stay Alert, Stay Alive’, Professor Ivara Esu, the Deputy Governor of the State, said that the corps has contributed immensely to a reduction of carnages on the road.
According to him, “the Federal Road Safety Corps has contributed immensely to the growth and sustenance of safety in Nigeria through constant education, sensitization and enlightenment of drivers, which otherwise would have been nothing but celebration of deaths on the nation’s highways.”
He urged road users to support the corps’ effort to imbibe the safety culture on the road, stressing: “All hands must be on deck for us to have an accident free 2019 Ember months and carnival celebrations. It is not a task left for the corps alone as human factor still accounts for over 90 percent of road traffic crashes and fatalities.”
The deputy governor advised drivers, especially, commercial vehicle operators to “avoid excessive speed, making calls while driving, overloading, use of seat belts, avoid driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, dangerous over taking, drivers fatigue amongst others.”
In a keynote, ChidiEbere Nkwonta, the Sector Commander of the State Command, stated that the corps has recorded high vehicular movement of individuals and goods on the roads during the end of the year due to the festivities.
Nkwonta, who commended relevant stakeholders for the support given to the corps to succeed in its task of ensuring safety, attributed the high rate of road crashes to: “The deteriorating state of our roads and increased vehicular population coupled with the abusive behavior of road users. I call on all and sundry to support this worthy cause, which is the task of keeping deaths off our roads.”
The Sector Commander expressed appreciation to other security agencies, the regular and special marshals for the collaborating to curb road crashes, urging for greater synergy particularly as festivities intensifies.
Earlier Samuel Oyedeji, the Head of Operations, in a welcome address, noted that the 2018 statistics of crashes in the State included 2,739 fatal cases, 5,489 serious cases whereas minor crashes stood at 1,153.
Oyedeji further mentioned: “In Cross River, the crashes analysis for the first half of 2019 between January and June when compared to figures of 2018 was a 139.89 percent increase in the number of people involved in road crashes. This figure is really scary and may increase if adequate measures are not put in place to reduce the trend.”
He said that the United Nations through one of its resolutions called for global action 2020 aimed at reducing road crashes through policies and programmes to curb the menace.
According to him, the corps being a leading agency has put some measures and strategies in place to salvage the situation.
Highlights of the event were a drama sketch by members of the National Youth Service Corps, special dance presentation by youths of Calabar Municipality and Calabar South as well as free eye care and general health checks including issuance of driver’s licenses to the public.