The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Tuesday, decried the number of deaths caused by road crashes across the country, stressing that this was becoming alarming.
Fashola, who spoke at the 23rd Annual General Meeting of the National Association of Road Transport Owners in Abuja, said a recent report made available to him showed that 449 people lost their lives to road accidents in one month – October.
He said, “I want to appeal for safety on our roads. Some of us have spoken about it. I have received the November report from FRSC (Federal Road Safety Corps); I’ve not read it. But the October report gave me cause for concern.
“Incidents of road traffic crisis are perhaps the biggest epidemic and threat to our collective safety that we have to pay attention to. We have other things that we speak about every time, such as insecurity and others.
“But in one month, the month of October, we lost 449 people in road traffic accidents. That’s a lot! And I’m not saying it is truck owners or truck drivers alone, but it contributes.”
He added, “There were a thousand plus crash incidents in that period. 449 lives were lost, 2,708 people were injured. We can do better than this. So my appeal to you is to professionalise this industry of driving.
“We can’t just leave the truck to anybody anymore. It is not a toy. It’s an equipment. So all the people who want to operate a truck must be properly trained, standards set by you, in consultation with the FRSC and all of the regulatory agencies.”
The minister said truck drivers must pass the trainings and have a certificates, describing driving as a profession.
“So that must be our aspiration. If NARTO decides, it can do it. Weed out all the uncertified people. And those who have not been certified are not necessarily useless, but they must go through a training process.
“Create your own certification and standards. Let FRSC approve it. So any time they catch anybody in a truck that is not licensed accordingly, he faces the law,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated.
He also stated that the wish of the Federal Government was for NARTO members to self-enforce the weight regulations.