Calls have been made by concerned individuals and groups, and well-meaning Nigerians for reason to prevail on the stalled implementation of the speed limiter installation for vehicles in Nigeria. The latest call was made by the Chairman of the Petroleum Tankers’ Drivers (PTD) association, a subsidiary association of National Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas (NUPENG), after their emergency Executive meeting which reviewed recently the state of the nation’s roads, the lingering fuel scarcity, among other issues.
The Chairman of PTD-NUPENG, Mr. Salimonu Oladiti while commenting after the meeting, made an appeal to the Honourable House of Representatives Federal Law making body to reconsider their position to stall the implementation of the safety speed limiters on Nigerian highways scheduled for enforcement take off by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) from April 1, 2016. Oladiti said, “If you consider that the rate of road accidents which has now doubled over the last 3 years alone is largely occasioned by bad speed alone, then it is necessary for something drastic to be done. That is why FRSC, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) formerly National Automotive Council (NAC) and key stakeholders in the transportation industry embarked on a wide study, and eventually concluded on the suitability of speed limiter installation for our vehicles. We want the Honourable House members to show compassion for the carnage of human lives on our roads, and see to allowing this novel initiative work. Our members are breadwinners of their various homes and we have lost one too many, but some of them who have fitted the devices have been relaying their positive experiences in recent times”.
In the same vein, the President of the Road Transport Employers of Nigeria (RTEAN), National Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) – Alhaji Ibrahim Kassim Batiya and his counterpart heading the Lagos chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) have all made unanimous call backing the FRSC speed limiter initiative. In a separate statement by the Chairman of NURTW, Lagos Chapter, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, said “what will be of good advantage to the people is always a good idea. For the fact that the speed limiter reduces accidents on our roads, the Union is always welcome to such idea”. Alhaji Agbede went further to state, “We are the people always on the road, not someone else. We do not see any crime challenge that some people have cried out against this road safety initiative if indeed, road patrol on highway continues as the new government of change has begun implementing. There is device standardisation already depending on the vehicle, and the FRSC will know if a substandard speed limiter device from unqualified installer is used or if anyone tries to use uncertified device in Nigeria. We are concerned as an association of road transport people and even as individuals, that we have lost too many lives on the road due to over speeding. We appeal to the House of Representatives who are doing a good work on this already, to allow reason prevail because of the masses who ply our roads, by supporting the FRSC to implement the speed limiters according to plan”.
Where doubts have persisted about the ability of the speed limiter installation in-vehicle to further reduce road crashes, studies have shown that since FRSC for instance enforced seat belts in vehicles and helmets in motorcycles, death risk has reduced by 61% in vehicles and severity due to head injury has reduced by 70% in motorcycles.
While commenting, the General Manager of a leading Construction Company based in Lagos, Mr Amara Nwokeji said they are in support of the speed limiter scheme because it is helping to reduce bad speed management of their drivers on the road where they, the management will not be. Nwokeji stated further, “we are already installing our trucks and other heavy duty vehicles in batches; we have analysed the average N30,000 to N40,000 per vehicle device and installation costs which will last 8years and more- it means N5,000 per year or N400 per month on annuity basis. We thought that figure is fair to save the lives of our drivers and other Nigerians using our roads, and ensure our business of haulage and transport is sustainable. Besides, we have observed that fuel consumption of our vehicles have reduced by over 20% for the vehicles that we have installed. Our drivers tried to react against it in the beginning, because almost everybody resist new change, but now, the story has changed for the better. There is no complaint as yet on any issues, as we continue to monitor them. There is much sense in the speed limiter scheme”
The FRSC as part of its constitutional role as enshrined in the FRSC Establishment Act and National Road Traffic Regulation, 2004, have been empowered to implement speed limiter installations in vehicles as a key measure to controlling speed that ultimately reduce incidences of road accidents and attendant loss of lives and economic value. Speed limiters (also described as speed governors) are devices that limit the attainment of a vehicle to a pre-programmed maximum speed. These devices work with any type of vehicle technology including all mechanically and electronically controlled vehicle engine systems. Speed limiters also contribute to safety as well as reduce fuel use and tyre wear, with the speed set at a level optimum for these factors. Road speed limiters work on the ideology of prevention being the best cure because speeding being a very impulsive behavioral trait, has made it all the more important to control the vehicle rather than controlling the driver.
In arriving at the best decision of speed limiter scheme for the public, the FRSC had involved NSE, NADDC and SON in qualifying credible private sector operators, some of them with foreign technical partners who are worth their salt having implemented same across countries in Europe, America, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, for the April 1, 2016 enforcement date. The enforcement is focused on commercial and heavy duty vehicles which studies have shown account for movements of larger people carrying capacity as well as cargo conveyance (valuable dry and wet cargoes). Reports have it that the FRSC had committed to at least 25% reduction in the number of incidences of road crashes, and another 30% reduction in casualties over the next year if the programme is allowed to sail through successfully.