My experience with reckless driver of commercial transporter, by commuter

By Ummi Ismaeel,
Minna

The federal government has been called upon to check the activities of private transport companies who are only interested in making returns but encourage their drivers to be reckless thereby endangering the lives and properties of innocent Nigerians.

Mrs. Ruth Bitrus, while recounting her ordeal traveling to Lagos with seven others, including an eight-year-old minor, said except government took urgent steps to check their recklessness, transport operators would continue to encourage their drivers to work under the influence of drugs and causing carnages on highways.

In an interview with our correspondent in Minna on what she believed to be a narrow escape from death joining one of Nigeria’s private transport company, ‘Cross Country’ from Lafia, Nasarawa State capital last Saturday, Ruth said the driver never concentrated all through their journey to Lagos.

Recalling how it all started, Ruth said she and other travelers boarded the Sienna bus from Lafia for Lagos but the journey turned out to be very stormy and the worst she has ever experienced in her life time because the driver was driving under the influence of drugs which he displayed all through the journey.

Ruth said she could recall someone calling the driver ‘Peter’ and also gave the vehicle number, GWA 881 YR with bold inscription, ‘2114 and Cross Country’ inscribed on both the front burnet and at the back of the navy blue coloured Sienna wagon.

“When we took off from Lafia at about 8am, along the way we discovered that the driver was always scrolling through his phone and making calls. Some of us complained and tried to discourage him but he wouldn’t listen to anyone”.

As we approached Keffi, the driver because he was crutching to his phone and making calls entered a deep gallop, this affected the car alignment thereby disrupting the journey for over 30 minutes as we stopped to work on the alignment.

The journey after working on the alignment and as we entered Nyanya, the driver was still not concentrating matched the brake as he was about hitting a Toyota Corolla and everybody inside the car shouted at him as most of us could no longer condone his recklessness, Ruth said.

In the process a woman lost the entire content of her container of stew which spilled all over the floor of the vehicle from the rear seat. This according to Ruth forced the driver to stop and everybody alighted for the car to be cleaned.

After about 45 minutes looking for water and cleaning the mess while within Abuja metropolis, the journey continued and the driver discovered that car started overheating and he decided to divert and stop over at their Abuja office and check what was wrong.

Unfortunately while trying to locate their office, he missed his way and had to drive for over 20 minutes to connect to their Area 1 office for a check on the car while the passengers all tired as a result of the bumpy journey from Lafia to Abuja waited at the terminal.

While waiting at the terminal, Ruth said she demanded to see the Manager of the transport company to formally lodge a complaint about the recklessness of the driver and possibly for him to be called to order but none of the people she met was able to attend to her.

In her desperation to ensure that something is done to guarantee her safety and that of other passengers, Ruth said she insisted that someone has to be held responsible should anything happen along the way as a result of the drivers’ reckless driving but all to no avail.

Instead of the Manager or any of the staff present listening to her complaints, Ruth said they mobilized touts and threatened to beat her up for insisting on making a formal complaint against the driver who was now back from repairing the car and did not deny any of the allegations by the passengers.

The second part of the journey from Abuja to Lagos started at exactly 3:06pm. The driver was stopped by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) over offence which included; driving a car with broken front glass, precisely as we approached Gegu Beki in Kogi State at 4:50pm.

Instead of being booked or sanctioned for the offence committed which was also not made known to us, Ruth said one of the officers with vehicle number FRSC 8. 38 (3) simply followed the driver to the back of the car pretending to be checking the content of the booth and collected bribe and allowed him to go.

Ruth who said it was only God that saw her and other passengers through the journey which lasted for two days instead of one day said they stopped and could not continue the journey when they reached a village along boarder town between Kogi State and Edo State.

While other passengers remained inside waiting for a time to continue the journey just as other vehicles parked along same route, the driver and an ex-CORPS member left them and went to drink and smoke weed in a nearby village.

When they came back, Ruth said the drivers’ speech and comments became so incoherent while the smell of Indian hemp oozing out from their mouths and discomforting to the passengers as they complained bitterly to no one in particular while some simply started praying to God to see them through the journey which continued at about 6am the following day and finally arrived Lagos at about 10am Sunday morning.

While not trying to dictate on who to employ, Ruth said that it was regrettable that some private transport companies do not see anything wrong employing someone who could endanger the lives of passengers driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

It is also pertinent for the transport companies to know that their image and that of their businesses are at stake if they fail to consider safety measures engaging people with no sound mind to work as drivers hence her plea that government should wade in especially during this ember months.

But for God, we would have died, Ruth said, adding, “The driver refused to listen to anybody when we tried to advice him against driving and making phone calls, he was caught by the FRSC but they collected bribe and let him go. While in the dead hour of the night he abandoned his passengers and went to smoke with one of the passenger”.

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