The Minister for Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that politicians in Nigeria will not commit towards ensuring road safety if it does not benefit them politically.
He explained this was why the indices regarding road safety in Nigeria have not improved much in recent years.
Amaechi stated this during a high-level panel discussion at the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety titled ‘Enhancing International Collaboration for Road Safety’ in Stockholm, Sweden.
Amaechi was a panel participant alongside the Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum (ITF) Young Tae Kim, Ghanaian Minister of Transport Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Director of Public Health Programme of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kelly Hemming, the Chief of Strategic planning and membership of the International Telecommunications Union,Yushi Torigoe and the Hungary State Secretary for Health, Ildiko Horvath.
According to him, in Nigeria, the key to every politician or government official is to get elected or re-elected.
He added that if finding solutions to road safety would increase their opportunity in the election, the politician would commit to it.
“Government, not only in Nigeria but everywhere is about selfish desires if politicians whose common interest is to achieve their growth in economy and sustenance in power.
“So whatever technology you are welcome bringing in must cover all these.
“66 percent of deaths caused by road crash is huge and we must find a solution to it.
“There is a need to find solutions politically because it has a moral burden tied to it.
“However, for every government official key to him is not road safety but how to get re-elected for the second term.
“If finding solutions to road safety, road infrastructure and furniture will increase his vote, he will commit to it but if not, it remains so”.
The Minister also expressed skepticism on the role technology can play in road safety.
In his response to Yushi Torigoe’s stand that technology is the way forward towards reducing road crashes, the Minister said it is only if the technology would create more employment that he would be opened to it.
“Most technology deprived employment opportunities. We have to deal with the fact that as a politician, I need to return back to the people so the more employment I create, the more at chances of returning to power.
“I would buy into the technology that will save lives, deal with road safety and at the same time create employment for Nigerians.
“I am not anti-technology. I support it but I am saying that they must find something that will end up creating more employment and not reducing employment.
“Because government officials make decisions on road and safety, one must also, in discovering road technology, take into cognizance those who make the decisions because you cannot flog them into making the decision,” Amaechi stated.
The Ghanaian Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah also collaborated Ameachi’s stand, saying that a politician is always looking for something different.
He added that the government would need to be educated about the effect of road safety while placing the people in consideration.
He then said that a basic education curriculum in road safety needs to be taught in school in Africa, adding that this program has helped in Ghana as children are aware of road safety and the common standards associated with it.
The Chief of Strategic Planning and Membership of the International Telecommunications Union, Yushi Torigoe emphasised that technology is the key to ensuring road safety.
He said contrary to fears, technology creates jobs rather than destroy them.