By John Eriomala
In the two months of resumption after the strike, not much has changed in terms of UI’s appearance. Most of our hall and faculty buildings remained the same, the streets remain clean, and asides from nature’s insistence on reclaiming the campus with greenery plus a few infrastructural renovations; it’s still the same ogba we so wonderfully adore.
Behaviorally, however, there have been quite a few tweaks. Students appear to be more cautious with their finances. Also studying – which one wouldn’t have assumed could attain even greater intensity – is at an all-time high. On some evenings, it’s almost impossible to get a space to read in any of the Large Lecture Theatres or the Kenneth Dike Library itself.
Still, on behavioral changes, motorists have decided to take theirs in the nether direction. In a manner similar to those in war zones or at a race track, drivers on campus have taken to conducting themselves recklessly. Just think of any road traffic violation that could be committed within the walls of this institution, and it’s almost guaranteed that at least one person you know has witnessed such in the last two to three days.
For one, there’s overspeeding. Road signs in several places within the university show a speed limit of 60km/hr. However, as it appears, most are not aware of their existence; such that, it’s a common sight to see vehicles flying down the asphalt at insane speeds. For example, on Barth Road – the stretch of road beginning before St. Annes that merges into Sokoto Road (after the Awo Stadium junction) – motorists often seem to forget that they share the road with pedestrians. These pedestrians often have to move from walking a few inches away from the foliage to literally entering into it, so as to avoid collisions. Another such hotspot is the CBT Road, known by most as Tech Road. Many a motorist seem to see its relative ‘free-ness’ as an excuse to awaken their inner Michael Schumacher. On quite a few occasions, pedestrians have to jump from the sidewalk to the lawn of whatever building or piece of land they happen to be walking by; just so they can be safe. Why should anyone even drive that way?
Also, some have refused to acknowledge one-way roads or roundabouts. Jaja Avenue, for instance, is obviously too narrow for two-way traffic, yet this doesn’t stop motorists from driving in the wrong direction all the time(towards Kuti Hall/Jaja Clinic). Sometimes, they even combine it with reckless acceleration; uncaring of both pedestrians and the poor condition of the road, or the effect the latter can exact on the vehicle’s undercarriage. As for roundabouts, it’s almost like some drivers don’t see anything but a straight path. It’s especially occurrent at the roundabout that takes one by the Aquaculture and Fishery Department and the one that leads to Zik Road and Balewa Hostel Road. Although, most offenders usually do so at night time.
On that note, it’s essential one asks this question, “Do some drivers know the function of headlamps?”. Do they? It just doesn’t seem believable that with headlamps so bright, and even with the assistance of streetlights, so many still do not see pedestrians. Also, when making turns, the least that could be done is to make use of the turn signal or ‘trafficator’, as most people call it. It would save several awkward moments and near-collisions.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that motorists aren’t always at fault. In many instances, students are the ones who put themselves in the path of danger yet still go ahead to complain; chasing each other off sidewalks or having both earphones plugged in while walking along relatively busy roads. It’s a common feature along inner roads like Kurumi Road, and some parts of Abadina. Some students even ignore horns blared by motorists, and then when said motorists complain, engage in shouting matches, or hurl insults; although, it should be said that many drivers are first to lash out and scream abusive words.
There are also other factors like the state of the road and the absence of road traffic signs which might be responsible for how people drive. Even though the Management has made efforts towards patching some roads, like the Atiba Road leading to the Second Gate, many are still riddled with potholes or broken-off patches that make driving difficult. As regards the absence of road signs, many people are only driving within the University for the first or second time. Expecting that they automatically know the speed limits for certain roads, or which paths are only one-way, without signs to indicate, is only presumptuous.
For the sake of the future, a few upgrades to the traffic system within the University wouldn’t be such a bad idea. In areas where motorists are notorious for speeding, speed breakers could be introduced, or the numbers increased. There’s also a need for streetlights on some stretches of road to aid drivers and other motorists. Finally, a sign or two to indicate speed limits and directions would also do some good; kudos of course for how much of the latter already exist. The University already has a magnificent road network. All it needs are the motorists to match.