About a week ago, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a national rule for wearing of face mask. That means, anywhere in the country, federal police have the right to arrest any motorist or passenger who flouts the rule.
In compliance with the directive, the Nigerian police have a responsibility to henceforth ensure that commercial motorists, who fail to ensure their passengers wear masks while in a vehicle, are nabbed for prosecution. Passengers, who flout the rules too should be made to face the wrath of the law.
According to the managing director of South African-based MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, while COVID-19 continues to spread, drivers need to treat face masks in the same way that they would a seatbelt.
He said: “A driver who wants to ensure that their passengers are protected from unnecessary harm should a crash be unavoidable, will always ensure that every passenger has a seatbelt fastened.”
Motorists should change their attitude of treating face mask wearing as police-let-me-Go habit, akin to why they acquire third party vehicle insurance. In the same way that a motorist ensures safety belts are secured before starting, it is their responsibility to ask passengers to put their face masks on as well.
Some drivers, who wear glasses, find it difficult to drive with a mask on, because it fogs their glasses. A driver, who falls under such category, should purchase a mask that prevents this.
Research is showing that wearing of face masks is one of the strongest defenses against the transmission of the virus. Even if a hefty fine is not enough to convince you, the importance of not contracting the disease should.
When it comes to travelling with people with whom you share a home, the law appears to be open to interpretation.
“If you are pulled over,” advised Herbert, “you should wear a face mask when speaking to the police officer. As such, keep your mask close at hand for this and in case the officer requests that you wear one with a passenger, irrespective of who they are.
“There have been instances where officers threaten penalties for not wearing a mask with a passenger but there are more cases where the officer simply asks you to wear the mask. If the officer does not simply ask you to wear a mask, explain your living situation. There are more reasonable officers than irrational ones. They don’t make the news or social media because it has no interest factor.”
Most important, every motorist needs to keep it in mind that COVID-19 is not a hoax. It is real. A silent killer. Law enforcement agents need to do more in Lagos state, where despite being the nation’s epic centre of the pandemic, flouting of the COVID-19 protocol remains the highest in Western Nigeria.