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Population, rural-urban migration and fatal road accidents in Nigeria

Urbanization has taken a huge toll on the population in Nigeria in terms of fatal road accidents. The nation is one of the countries in the developing world with a high rate of rural-urban migration and fast-growing cities. Although growth is a global phenomenon, 90% of growth in urban population worldwide occurs in developing countries and places intense pressure on urban infrastructure, particu-larly transportation.52 In this context, very large metropolitan areas like Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt face congestion problems that often occur when traffic pressure is increased in the transport systems. A high number of accidents happen owing to the general impatience and ill-tempered nature of road users and to conflicts between pedestrians and those using other means of road transport in the cities.53

50 http://www.nigeriawatch.org/index.php?urlaction=evtView&id_evt=5121&rang=4

51 http://www.nigeriawatch.org/index.php?urlaction=evtView&id_evt=8168&rang=10

52 Rodrigure, J. (2009), The Geography of Transport Systems, 2nd edition. New York: Routledge.

53 Ogunsanya, A.A. (1993), Directions in Urban Transport Studies in Nigeria. In: Ikya, S.G., ed.,. Urban Passenger Transportation in Nigeria, Heinemann Educational Books (Nig.) Plc.

Table 1.7 Population of main cities and number of deaths caused by road accidents (June 2006-May 2014)

City City population No. of deaths caused by road accidents

Lagos 8,029,200 1,579

Kano 3,248,700 373

Ibadan 3,078,400 718

Kaduna 1,458,900 446

Port Harcourt 1,053,900 476

Source: National Population Commission, 2006; Nigeria Watch, 2006-2014

Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria, is the second-fastest-growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world.54 Rural-urban migration, immigration, un-employment, inadequate social amenities, and the lack of urban planning explain infrastructural decay, including the poor road transportation system, and account for the 1,579 road accident deaths between June 2006 and May 2014. By con-trast, Kano is much less affected by such accidents because its inhabitants are relatively poor and there are fewer cars on the road (Table 1.7).

In order of importance, Ibadan, capital city of Oyo State, is the third-largest metropolitan area in Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano. It recorded the second-highest number of car accident deaths (718) within the period under study. Iba-dan, mostly seen as the centre of administration of the old Western Region, con-sistently witnesses massive rural-urban migration from neighbouring communi-ties. The state has a network of dual-carriageway roads, including the Ojoo-Sango-Mokola Road, the Ring Road-Orita-Challenge-New Garage route, and the recently completed Dugbe-Eleyele-erico Road. Most of the accident deaths that occurred within the city were on these roads.

Port Harcourt, another major city in Nigeria, recorded 476 road accidents fa-talities between June 2006 and May 2014. The city is an epicentre of the oil-related activities of a large number of multi-national and local firms. Hence, oil distribution has been a major threat to the city, when one considers the effects of tanker accidents, explosions, and fire outbreaks. Aside from oil-related activities, Port Harcourt is known for its bustling night activity and entertainment industry.

Late-night driving, under-age driving, and drunk driving are factors that have all contributed to the number of fatal road accidents in the state. Finally, the volume of trade within the city due to its proximity to Aba, the commercial centre of Abia State, increases the volume of traffic pressure from traders flocking in and out of the state. This high traffic volume often causes fatal road accidents.

54 World’s Fastest Growing Cities and Urban Areas from 2006 to 2020, by CityMayors.com


This study has examined the trends in road accidents in Nigeria between June 2006 and May 2014. After studying the causes of violent deaths in Nigeria from an overall point of view, fatal road accident was discovered to be the main cause of violent fatalities, apart from the Boko Haram insurgency. Different contexts precipitate fatal car accidents in Nigeria. Understanding these political and socio-economic contexts provides a better insight into why road accident has remained a leading cause of death in the country. The distribution of fatal car accidents among the 36 states and the FCT shows that Lagos State recorded the highest number of fatal car accidents, but is less dangerous in terms of the calculated se-verity index. Abuja is more dangerous when compared with its relative number of inhabitants. Results further showed that regional variations exist in the fatality rates from road accidents, with more deaths occurring in the South than in the North. The results also established that state and city population estimates, num-ber of registered vehicles, and trade volume are among the variables that deter-mine the fatality rate of road accidents in Nigeria. Finally, it appears that road maintenance remains an issue because criminal gangs take advantage of bad spots on the highways to rob travellers, causing fatal car accidents in the process.


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