At least, 441 commercial bus drivers in Lagos State have tested positive to cocaine and marijuana, says Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris.
Idris said out of the 2,002 drivers tested for substances such as alcohol intake and others, 441 drivers, representing 22 per cent were found to have consumed cocaine and marijuana before driving.
The commissioner stated that the drivers were screened for blood alcohol content, substance abuse, hypertension, diabetes and vision impairment between 4 and 19 September, 2012 at Alaagba Motor Park and Under Bridge Motor Park at Iyana Ipaja area of the state.
The commissioner, who addressed a joint press briefing with his counterpart in the Transportation Ministry, Kayode Opeifa, at the State Government Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria said the test carried out was under the Lagos State Motor Park Health and Safety Initiative programme.
He stated that out of the 2002 drivers tested for various substance abuse, 781 of them, representing 39 per cent were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol as 601 (30%) were found to be hypertensive and 940 were screened for visual impairment and 13 per cent had to be given special glasses.
Idris threatened that government would prosecute and jail any motorists found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol henceforth, adding that government was not relenting in educating the drivers on the dangers of alcohol consumption while on the wheels.
He said given the grave consequences of driving under such influences, the state government had no option than to invoke section 21, sub-section 1 of the state traffic law which prescribed a conviction fine of N100,000 or two years imprisonment or both on the offenders.
The commissioner also decried the high rate of road accidents in the country as it had become a major cause of death, adding that the state government could not achieve the desired health indices if it ignored the menace of deaths by road accidents.
“Alcohol and substance abuse have been documented as a cause of road traffic accidents and several studies have shown that an intoxicated driver is a danger to himself, his passengers and other road users,” he added.
According to him, a major breakthrough was recently recorded in the sensitization campaigns in the motor parks against irresponsible driving with a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Guinness Nigeria Plc.
“It appears that drivers abstained from drugs and alcohol intake before coming for the screening. If this is the case, the law is obviously serving as deterrent to alcohol and drug abuse,” he stated.
Speaking, Opeifa decried the number of road traffic accidents recorded mostly on weekends in Lagos, caused by excessive drinking by motorists, saying that government was focusing on motor parks to make the awareness campaign effective because of its involvement in mass transportation of people to various destinations within and outside the state.