Why do Nigerians ignore pedestrian bridges?

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Bayo Olupohunda When last week I grieved on this page with a
tribute to the 12 Olabisi Onabanjo University
students who met their untimely death in a ghastly
motor accident caused by a truck driver on the
Benin-Sagamu Expressway, little did I know that I
was going to be a witness to some other road
accidents in Lagos. Both accidents, which were
preventable, and many others that had happened in
recent years, are symptomatic of a nation that
places no value on human life.
Besides, what my encounter in Lagos has shown
is that Nigerians as a people do not value their
lives. We have become so suicidal that we have
come to see calamities as “divine” – even when
they are caused by human factors. For example,
the frequent road accidents involving petrol tankers
with attendant loss of human lives are a
demonstration of citizens and a government that
have become numb to tragedies.
Even in life-threatening situations, we say it is not
“our portion” as if it would wish disaster away
without putting safety measures in place to control
disasters. I have often wondered why some people
can risk their lives crossing a major highway when
there is an option of using the pedestrian bridge.
Why would a middle-aged man decide to end his
life in a cruel manner in a road accident that he
could have avoided?
Last week, I witnessed two accidents involving
two pedestrians who refused to use the foot bridge
on two busy highways—the Lekki-Ajah
Expressway and the Third Mainland Bridge at the
Oworonsoki end of Lagos. I will recount the two
gruesome accidents here in the hope that the
Lagos State Government will begin to dutifully
enforce traffic rules and regulations so that
commuting on our roads can be safe for both
pedestrians and motorists.
My first encounter happened on the Lekki-Epe
Expressway where motorists are known for road
rage. After the expansion of the road, many
accidents involving both private vehicles and
commercial buses have claimed lives. Motorists on
the Lekki road do not observe driving limits nor
have regard for pedestrians. To prevent
pedestrians coming to harm, there have been
ongoing construction of foot bridges at major bus
stops for crossing. But rather than use the bridges,
some pedestrians still prefer to dash across the
busy highway. Many have been killed in the
process. It was on such an occasion that I
witnessed a lady who decided to risk her life at the
Jakande Estate crossing only to end up being killed
by a fast moving car.
She did not see the car coming because it was in
the early morning rush hour before the day broke.
It was an unfortunate incident because the car did
not beam its headlight and the street lights were
off. Incidentally, the accident happened directly
under the pedestrian bridge. But the driver, thinking
that the victim might not survive the impact, drove
off. But who do you blame? Not even oncoming
traffic slowed down because it was too dangerous
to do so as they risked being rammed from behind
by oncoming vehicles.
As the lady lay dead, it took the efforts of some
onlookers to force motorists to slow down as they
retrieved the body of the victim. It was not a sight
to behold. Looking at the lady closely, she might
have been on her way to work. While this was
happening, I observed a sign that warned
pedestrians to use the foot bridge. Yet, people
ignore and prefer to risk their lives as the lady did.
The accident ruined my morning. But little did I
know what misfortune the day would bring.
The Third Mainland Bridge is the busiest highway
in Lagos, but it is on the same road that a man
decided to risk his life the other day dashing
across the length of the highway just under the
pedestrian bridge at the Oworonsoki exit. It was
another gruesome scene whose memory has
stayed in my subconscious. I had been waiting at
the Oworonsoki bus stop to board an Ikeja bound
bus. Then there was a loud bang and the sound of
screeching tyres saw everybody rushing to the
foot of the bridge where a man lay dead. I waited
long enough to see the Lagos emergency
ambulance evacuate the body from the scene.
The questions that came to mind as I witnessed
the accidents were: Why will anyone want to risk
his or her life when there is a choice to stay alive?
Who will trace those dead victims? They will
probably be declared missing and after a few days
will be buried unsung. That is definitely not the way
to end a life. Yes, I agree that death is inevitable,
but some deaths, like those that result from
refusing to use the overhead bridge, are
preventable.
Contrary to stereo-typed opinions being expressed
in certain quarters, accidents are not acts of God.
Many accidents occur mostly as a result of human
factors. In Nigeria, for instance, weak institutions
and poor implementation of traffic regulations
contribute to accidents. For example, indiscipline
has been a major factor leading to accidents. In
Lagos, the ubiquitous commercial bus drivers have
been a major source of concern for traffic
managers because of their recklessness and
disregard for human lives. They drive on sidewalk
meant for pedestrians. Pedestrians themselves
have no regard for their own personal safety.
According to a survey by the Federal Road Safety
Corps, just 14 out of 50 pedestrians use the foot
bridge in Lagos. Also, between 2006 and 2014,
Lagos recorded 1, 579 fatalities which include
pedestrians not using overhead bridges. The
figures in Lagos paint a general trend in available
statistics from World Health Organisation which
rank Nigeria 192 out of 193 countries with fatalities
arising from road accidents. If this trend is allowed
to continue, especially in Lagos, it is capable of
escalating because people know they can get
away with impunity. The challenge on our roads is
not about the dearth of traffic laws, as the country
has enough in the various law books to ensure
sanity to our highways.

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One thought on “Why do Nigerians ignore pedestrian bridges?

  1. i love how homeboy just grinning ear to ear as the cover model to this story, like “I dont always ignore pedestrian bridges, but when i do i take out 12 students MINIMUM” lolwtf and yo this guy looks like RAY LEWIS the retired superbowl winning accomplice(alledgedly) to murder.

    haha

    Like

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