The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government to ensure installation of functional and well manned safety infrastructure on roads and railways to avoid recurring train and vehicle accidents.
They include – erection of barriers, construction of road bumps/speed retarders and reducing prevalence of intersections.
The institute stated this while commiserating with bereaved families, while praying for a speedy recovery for the injured commuters.
The President of the institute, Mfon Ekong Usoro, said best practice dictates that rail specific infrastructure such as barriers, gate house, rails and level crossings with adequate signage and audio warnings be provided and maintained by the railway authority.
Usoro said level crossings are essential safety infrastructure for the free flow of transportation where there are intersections between two or more modes of transport.
She said the road is designed, constructed and maintained by a public authority separate from the Nigerian Railway Corporation who owns, maintains the rail tracks and operates the trains.
Usoro said there are minimum safe distances that must be observed at stops and intersections, noting that a train requires a minimum of 320 metres adequate distance (safety over-run).
According to her, this implies that to stop a train in motion, the driver must apply the brake about 320m to the stop point, which is an extremely difficult feat to manoeuver a successful emergency stop for a moving train with shorter safety over-run.
She called for separation of the routes for rail tracks and roads, adding that new constructions should as far as is practicable, not include intersections in designs,as flyovers or tunnels are preferred options.
Usoro called for the presence of law enforcement agents at the level crossings to compliment the work of the gatekeepers, as well as aggressive safety awareness campaigns targeted at commuters by the relevant agencies like the Federal Road Safety Corps and state traffic agencies.
She said there should be clear demarcation of responsibilities and efficient coordination between the road and the rail authorities in managing intersections.
Usoro also asked that the party responsible for funding the safe operations of theinfrastructure should be revisited, noting that the present system of shared financial responsibility for the provision, manning and maintenance of the safety infrastructure at intersections appears cumbersome and leaves room for lack of accountability.
The institute, while commending the Federal Government for the speedy setting up of an investigative panel on the accident, urged government to set up an independent body that will be tasked with investigation of all transport related accidents as recommended in the National Transport Policy.
“It is not best practice to expect the agencies directly or indirectly involved in accidents to investigate itself. The establishment of the proposed National Transport Safety Board aligns with global practice and is long overdue. We call on the Minister of Transportation, most respectfully, to submit the National Transport Policy to the Federal Executive Council for approval,” the institute stated.