About a year or so ago, 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 hit by three vehicles in quick succession.
According to eyewitnesses, the victim and his three friends, visibly drunk from a birthday party, 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 picked 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 other 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. Policemen later visited the scene and picked up the Good Samaritan for questioning.
Despite the fact that eyewitnesses narrated what happened to the policemen, they still whisked him away, locked him up for the night and fleeced him of some cash before he was eventually released along with his vehicle. Although the family of the deceased showed some understanding and were unwilling to drag the matter any further because of his effort to save the life of the victim, he had to cough out some amount for the burial.
The Lugbe incident is replicating on daily basis on the Nigerian highways. Even though statistics are not available to paint the grim pictures, 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 are 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.
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 highway result from pedestrians’ carefree attitude on the highway. 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 an irrational being likened to an animal.
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has a critical role to play in saving Nigerians from themselves. It is worthy of note that the commission is making effort to put in place mobile courts to try any recalcitrant pedestrians caught endangering their lives as well of those of motorists. An aggressive public enlightenment campaign should also be embarked upon 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 at the expense of pedestrian bridges does so at their own peril. In such cases, the “killer” motorists should not be held culpable of any offence.