Students and staff complain as drivers drive with reckless abandon within the school premises.
The rate at which vehicles both private and public drive recklessly in Nnamdi Azikiwe University is one that has been a great concern to both students and staff. This phenomenon, which has been sadly overlooked by the school authorities, is one that has posed a threat to lives and properties, imbibing fear in students.
Favour, a 200 level student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University narrated her ordeal: “Back then I was staying at Elmada hostel and was heading to my faculty for my departmental prayers. Usually, I take a Keke (tricycle) straight from my hostel to school gate but this particular day there wasn’t any so I boarded a bus (shuttle) which although was going to take a longer route, would get me to my destination.”
“As I entered the bus, the boy sitting at the edge came down for me to enter causing him to sit beside the open door.
“Getting to a sharp turn beside the hostel, the boy sitting next to the open door was thrown off the bus with only his hand grasping frantically onto the bus as he was pulled painfully along. With terror in his eyes as he was being hit by the sides of the bus and scratched by the road, he held on desperately to the bus screaming and shouting for the driver to stop. However, the driver’s radio was very loud causing his pleas to fall on deaf ears.”
According to Favour, everybody else was oblivious to the scene until she turned and saw what was occurring.
Immediately, she began tapping the driver to stop, pleading with him on the boy’s behalf. After gaining the driver’s attention, he proceeded to stop but not before the boy lost hold of the bus and landed with a loud thud on the ground.
“I thought he was dead, everybody in the bus thought he was dead, including the driver,” she continued.
“We came out only for us to see the guy lying helplessly on the floor, his head torn and open, his face peeled, his eye side injured and lots and lots of injuries on his body.”
Fortunately, the boy was not dead. Refusing offers to take him to the hospital because he wanted to quickly visit his brother, he accepted the N500 note offered to him by the driver to treat himself.
This accident is one out of the many that have been overlooked by the school which has rendered its premises unsafe for both students, staff and visitors. Deaths, injuries, loss of properties and trauma to mention but a few are the experiences of students as a result of reckless driving in the school.
This issue is peculiar to drivers of public vehicles as they enjoy competing with themselves on the road, being on their phones while driving and committing other traffic offences that contribute to the accidents. However, private vehicles drivers are not to be excluded as they, especially young men, exploring the roads of the school drive with reckless abandon throwing all caution to the air.
Glory Chidalu also narrated how she entered a bus the previous week and everyone on the bus was scared because the driver was overspeeding. She further narrated how a blind girl in the bus was shouting and telling the driver to slow down which caused an argument between them. Later, it was discovered she was ill.
With these kinds of occurrences and several more, it is worrisome how many more accidents will occur before the school authorities do something about it.
Statistics On Road Accidents
According to statistics derived from the World Health Organisation, it is stated that approximately 1.3 million people around the world die annually as a result of road traffic crashes, leaving between 20 to 50 million people with non-fatal injuries.
Going further, the young is stated to be particularly vulnerable on the world roads and road traffic injuries are the leading cause of deaths for children and young adults aged between 5 and 29 years old.
Young men under 25 years are more likely to be involved in road crashes than women, with 73% of all road traffic deaths occurring among young men at that age.
Finally, it was clearly stated that 93% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle-income countries even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.
From the data above, which states that road accidents claim a lot of lives yearly occurring mostly in low and middle-income countries, Nigeria included, one would think that the authorities would take extra caution to prevent future occurrences but sadly this is not the case.
In an interview with the Head of the Mass Communication Department, Professor Chinwe Uzorchukwu, she said: “There is serious recklessness among the drivers especially the tricycle and shuttle drivers and I want to attribute that to the fact they are coming from outside, registered in the university but they are here to make their money and so they believe it’s survival of the fittest and tend to outwit other drivers.”
“They go to any length including even trying to throw off students or even cause accidents on the road. Most times, they block the main road and will be picking passengers because they don’t want another driver to pick.”
She compared this situation to that of the University of Ibadan where she did her post-graduate program and commented that they had a taxi stand and the taxis have routes they ply which removed the competition among them thereby creating some level of orderliness.
Proferring solutions to the issue, she said: “The transport unit of the university must stand up to their responsibilities, they should have rules guiding the operations of these drivers in the university and if anybody flunks the rule, such a person should be punished.”
She continued by stating that the porous nature of Unizik is a major challenge to achieving that, as they don’t know who comes in or out of the universities.
She concluded by saying that she believes the university can go the extra mile to provide vehicles that will ply the school, as an income-generating revenue for them and in that way, they can control the drivers.
However, in an interview with a Keke driver within the school, he debunked the notion that all drivers drove recklessly, attributing overspeeding to newcomers who were unaware of the speed limit within the school as the people in charge of transportation only collect money from them without enlightening them.
He ended by admonishing the transport unit to properly control these drivers and stated that a driver on seeing a fellow driver over speeding should caution him rather than compete with him as drivers tend to adhere to themselves.
After receiving the view of the people, it is without doubt that careless driving is a major problem in the school and calls for the authorities’ intervention in restoring orderliness among drivers.
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