In less than 24 hours, two pedestrians were crushed to death along the NnamdiAzikiwe Expressway, Abuja, recently. According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, the first tragedy occurred at about 6 pm on Monday, June 15, 2020. An elderly man mistimed the speed of a tipper and zoomed across the expressway. The vehiclethen picked him up and hurled his body into the mid air.
The next day at about 11 am, a woman was also overrun by a car on high speed. The car eventually crashed into the drainage, leaving it badly damaged and the driver severely injured along with the other occupants. The distance between the two accident spots was only 300 or so metres. There are also two pedestrian bridges flanking the two accident spots – the Banex overhead bridge and the one at the NICON Junction.
Between 2018 and 2019, we had cause to editorialise thrice on the inherent madness exhibited by pedestrians competing for the right of way with motorists on the major highways across the nation.
In April 2018, a tragedy occurred along the Airport Expressway, near Federal Housing, Lugbe, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, when a pedestrian was killed after being buffeted by three vehicles in quick succession.
According to eyewitnesses, the victim and his three friends, visibly drunk from a birthday binge, chose to sprint across the ever busy expressway instead of using the pedestrian bridge which was located a few metres away from the accident spot.
In the process of crossing the road, a fast moving vehicle snaffled up the deceased who was coming behind his friends, threw him into the sky and the body landed on the bonnet of another vehicle before he came crashing to the ground. The owner of the second vehicle struggled to pull to a sudden halt in order to offer some help. But unfortunately, a third vehicle coming from the same direction on top speed overran the body. The drivers of the first and third vehicles did not stop.
Apparently unaware of how the accident occurred, the victim’s friends came back to the scene and descended on the Good Samaritan, blaming him for the death of their friend. But for the intervention of commercial motorcyclists who witnessed the drama, he would have been lynched. Nevertheless, his SUV was thoroughly vandalised.
Realising that the dangerous habit persisted after the Lugbe incident, we followed up with two editorials,warning reckless pedestrians and calling on the relevant agencies to take drastic measures to discourage them from sprinting to their early graves.
Even though statistics are not available to paint the grim pictures nationwide, it is public knowledge that many Nigerians throw their lives away through irrational acts. In many parts of Nigerian cities and major towns where expressways are constructed, pedestrian bridges are provided to ease the movement of pedestrians and safeguard their lives. But in most cases, the pedestrians do not use the facilities which they consider cumbersome and a waste of time. They prefer to make a dash for it while timing the oncoming vehicles. But such timing is oftentimes miscalculated. Some motorists are known to lose control of their vehicles with fatal consequences in an attempt to avoid knocking down these daredevil pedestrians.
There have been other instances where pedestrians would dash across the road only to discover that their timing was wrong and in an attempt to backpedal, they most times get stranded and end up being knocked down or overrun by the vehicle.
Undoubtedly, the FCT boasts of some of the busiest expressways in the country. In order to save impatient Nigerians from themselves, provision was made for pedestrian bridges in strategic locations in the capital city. When the FCT Administration discovered that the pedestrians were not using them, it erected barriers several metres around the bridge areas to discourage the dangerous habit. However, rather than being encouraged to use the bridges, the pedestrians have either pulled down the barriers or cut through them for a thoroughfare.
Most of the hit-and-run incidents on the highways result from pedestrians’ carefree attitude. Although there are instances of negligence on the part of drivers, those who knock down or kill pedestrians where overhead bridges are constructed do not care a hoot to stop. In their reasoning, any pedestrian who enlists to dare the expressway and gets run over should be treated as someone on a suicide mission.
As we have severally stated in our previous editorials, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has a critical role to play in saving Nigerians from themselves. One of the measures proposed two years ago to curb the madness was to set up mobile courts to try any recalcitrant pedestrians caught endangering their lives and those of motorists, but it never took off till date. There is the need to embark on an aggressive public enlightenment campaign to warn pedestrians on the danger of failing to use overhead bridges.
It will also not be out of place to remind them that anyone who throws his or her life away, gets injured or maimed while crossing the expressway rather than using pedestrian bridges does so at their own peril. In such cases, the “killer” motorists should not be held culpable of any offence.