By Haruna Yusuf
Despite the availability of pedestrian bridges on expressways, jaywalkers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja have continued to pose threats on the road, causing avoidable accidents, The Explainer’s Haruna Yusuf reports.
Godknows Saviour considers himself “lucky” to have survived an ill-fated accident that killed 14 people on January 15th, 2023 at the popular Nicon Junction, Abuja. According to Saviour, the accident was caused by an unidentified jaywalker who ignored a pedestrian bridge located less than a kilometre away. The near-tragic result was a road accident, which affected the errant crosser and some commuters waiting by the roadside.
Unable to fend for himself, Saviour has resorted to begging for alms on the pedestrian lane of the road the accident occurred. A chilling reminder of the consequences of neglecting pedestrian bridges. Jaywalking is a technical term referring to the act of crossing a major road illegally such as ignoring traffic regulations.
“Misjudging the distance of an oncoming vehicle, she crossed. Her action led to an accident that claimed the lives of some bystanders and injured my right leg” Saviour recalls with a look of despair. The Explainer observed that the lack of strict compliance to the use of pedestrian bridges along highways in the FCT has left many road users dead and others incapacitated.
As far back as 2016, the Federal Road Safety Corps raised an alarm over the rising rates of pedestrian mortalities in road accidents. Out of the 5,053 fatalities recorded in the year, the report said; “pedestrians are particularly vulnerable with children accounting for around 40 percent of all fatalities”.
In addition, the FCT Sector Commander of the FRSC, Chorrie Muta’a said 21 cases of deaths were recorded from crossing the highways between January and October 2023.
Why Are People Reluctant to Use Pedestrian Bridges?
The Explainer gathered that many road users are aware of the risk of crossing the express roads without the use of the pedestrian bridges. An FCT resident, Adeola Oyebanji who had just crossed the Musa Yar-Adua Expressway, when asked by this reporter on the reason for taking such risk, agreed that it was not the right thing to do.
Although he agreed that it is not right to cross the highway in such manner, he said: “Yes, we have seen many people lose their lives here on this road,” he however noted that people would rather cross the road because most of the bridges are situated at a distance of about 1 kilometre from the bus stop.
On the contrary, another resident, Odinakachi Ennedu said safety should always come first irrespective of the distance of the pedestrian bridges.
” I am taking the pedestrian bridge because it is safer”, she said adding that; “of what use are the bridges constructed by the government if they are ignored by the pedestrians?”
A taxi driver, Okechukwu Wisdom said the pedestrians underrate the high speed of moving vehicles on the express roads.
“They usually think moving vehicles are far but not knowing that the distance can be covered in a few seconds and they would run into the road and they get hit “, said the commercial driver.
A Matter of Enforcement
In Nigeria, the laws governing pedestrian safety are primarily administered by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Act 2007 and the National Road Traffic Regulations (NRTR) Act 2012. These laws were meant to ensure the safety of pedestrians. However, the FCT Sector Commander of the FRSC, Muta’a said that the reason people cross the highway is “simply an attitude problem considering the fact that the federal government has provided pedestrian bridges in some designated areas.”
“I remember that the government erected a barrier to prevent people from crossing the highways but the citizens have destroyed it. However, when there is massive disobedience of the law, the brute force may not be effective rather than appealing to the conscience of the lawbreaker will be better,” he noted.