WE are at that time of the year when millions of Nigerians from all over the world and all corners of the nation travel to their native communities to celebrate Christmas, New Year and engage in all forms of family and communal reunion festivities.
Each day from this week, hundreds of thousands more people will be travelling than is usual at any other time. They will travel by land, air and water. It is, therefore, important to put the various agencies regulating the safety of all means of transportation on their duty posts and ensure we minimise accidents, mishaps and sufferings of travellers.
We are happy to note that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has already taken the proactive step of issuing reminders to aircraft pilots to beware of the dangers of the Harmattan haze which appears to be more severe than normal this year. The Agency also directs airline operators to comply strictly with the need to obtain information and adhere to weather advisories before, during and after each flight operation. Greater care should also be taken to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers, many of whom are coming from all parts of the globe.
The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) which is usually very active at this time of the year should redouble their efforts. In conjunction with the various state Vehicle Inspection Directorates, they should embark on massive checks of vehicles to ensure their roadworthiness and those of drivers manning them to minimise the prospects of accidents. They should also stand ready when such unfortunate events do occur and ensure that victims have quick access to medical attention.
By far the most neglected means of transportation in Nigeria is travel on the waterways. Unlike its air and road transport counterparts where the voices and presence of safety regulatory agencies are palpable very little is heard of the activities of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in preparation for mass movement of Nigerians during festive seasons. This is not good enough. Since millions of Nigerians can only reach their communities by river craft, more effort should be made to ensure their safety and assist operators and passengers as required.
We call on all stakeholders to play their roles and not depend solely on government agencies to provide them safety en route. It is the responsibility of everyone. Travellers must cooperate with law enforcement agencies and offer assistance to one another when the need arises.
This is a time of the year when we ignore the negative effects of economic downturn and celebrate love and common bonds. Those who are not travelling should remain safety conscious. To those travelling, we wish you bon voyage.