A routine medical test carried out by the Lagos State Government in Iyana Ipaja, Oyingbo and Ojota motor parks has warranted the need for drivers in Lagos State, most especially commuters who board vehicles from one point to the other to exercise caution and take extra-time to examine the physical and mental composure of their drivers before taking off if they wish to get to their destination safe and sound.
According to the test carried out by officials of the Ministry of Health a total of 2,897 were screened in three motor parks in the ratio of 884 in Ojota motor park; 988 at Oyingbo motor park and 1,025 at Iyana-Ipaja motor park.
The outcome of the exercise conducted in conjunction with Guinness Nigeria Plc, revealed that at least 326 drivers tested positive to the banned substance, cocaine or marijuana, while 502 drivers were drunk, with excessive alcohol found in their bowels. Besides, the test also revealed that a large number of drivers are hypertensive while some of them are diabetic.
Speaking at the event, tagged motor park health and safety awareness campaign, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola told commercial motor drivers to desist from taking alcohol, drugs or other related substance before going behind the wheels, stressing that evidence abound that road traffic accidents are influenced and precipitated by substance abuse which impair driver’s ability to manage and manipulate a vehicle well.
Fashola who spoke through his deputy Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire said the aim of the initiative is to reduce road traffic accidents thereby ensuring the safety of the driver, passenger and other road users. The governor explained that since inception of the campaign in 2011, no fewer than 2500 public transportation and commercial motor drivers had been screened for blood alcohol content, substance abuse, hypertension and diabetes while health education and enlightenment were included in the campaign.
“The campaign has been taken to Ojota, Iyana Ipaja and Oyingbo motor parks and the screening team included medical doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists and pharmaceutical technicians, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) officials and administrative workers”, Fashola said.
`He explained that 884 motor drivers were screened at Ojota Motor Park adding that 239 of them representing 27% of those screened have hypertension, while 86 people representing 10% of those screened were found to be diabetic, 60 drivers representing 7% tested positive to substance abuse, and 287 people representing 32% of those screened had excessive blood alcohol level.
“At the Oyingbo motor park campaign, 988 people were screened while 363 or 37% of the people screened were hypertensive, 156 or 16% had diabetes, 59 or 6% tested positive to cocaine or marijuana and 494 or 50% tested positive to the breathalyzers. While at the campaign at Iyana Ipaja motor park, 1,025 people were screened and 162 people or 16% had hypertension, 71 people or 7% had diabetes, 103 or 10% tested positive to cocaine or marijuana and 215 or 21% had excessive alcohol in their blood system”, he noted.
The Governor added that the latest campaign at the New Garage Motor Park, Bariga which started on Tuesday 3rd September, 2013 has screened drivers for high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer screening and providing counseling and guidance for all the park operators, drivers in the park.
“Let us resolve today that we will stop taking a gamble with our lives. Every time you cross the highway, every time you drink Alomo and Paraga, every time you get behind the steering wheels with drugs in your system, it is like putting a loaded gun to one’s head and wondering if it can kill or not. It is a huge risk to take and we should stop taking that risk”, he opined.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris stated that Lagos State government decided to embark on the motor park sensitization campaign because human developmental index has shown that the numbers of lives that are lost in a year are not necessarily lost to natural illnesses alone but to violence, road accidents, and other needless and avoidable cause of death.
He added that no fewer than 955 commercial drivers have benefited from hypertension and diabetes screening, eye screening, urine drug test, mental counseling and alcohol content test using breathalyzers at on-going motor park health and safety awareness campaign at the New Garage Motor park, Bariga which commenced on Tuesday, 3rd September, 2013.
“Two hundred and eighty-eight (288) people were screened for hypertension and diabetes, 194 drivers had their eyes screened, 217 people benefited from urine test, 220 drivers were screened for alcohol content level using breathalyzers and 36 people benefited from the one-on-one mental health counseling”, the commissioner said.