Steve Agbota, [email protected]
Lagos port city of Apapa has become a nightmare and adread to law abiding businessmen and commuters with its unending traffic jam resulting from rising activities at its two premiers sea ports.
For its increasing notoriety port operators have become more dependent towards the use of a single mode of evacuating cargoes out of the seaports, which eventually led to the perennial traffic gridlock in the two ports located in the heart of Apapa.
The numbers of articulated trucks accessing and existing the two ports have increased tremendously, thereby mounting serious pressure on the two main roads into the seaports. Due to this pressure, the roads have gone from bad to worst and turned into a death trap for both residents and port users.
The bad roads, among other factors have been blamed for rising incidents involving containers falling off or fal- liarticulated trucks killing scores of Lagosians.
So far the numbers of death and property lost to tragedies caused by the dangerous cargoes have left many fami- lies in perpertual agony.
For instance within the space of three days, two unlatched containers fell off from their trucks at different areas in Lagos State. While one of them fell off at Tin Can First Gate Busstop in Apapa on Saturday June 15, 2019 and crushed two cars in the process with no casualty recorded , the June 18, 2019, incident involving another container which fell at Iyana-Iba; on the outskirts of Lagos state crushing an LT commercial bus whose passengers escaped early death.
One spot that has become ill-famed for this type of incident is the popu- lar, Ojuelegba overhead bridge, which connects the seaports areas of Apapa to the mainland and linking routes out of Lagos. Details of containers falling off trucks conveying them to their various destinations on the Ojuelegba Bridge dated back to September 2015, when one of such incifdent occurred and crushed a couple and occupants of a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) to death.
In June 2018, another 40ft container that left the Lagos Port complex, Apapa, fell off its bed while ascending the same Ojuelegba bridge. This time round, the incident claimed the lives of a Toyota Camry driver and three commercial buses. Two other persons sustained life-threatening injuries and were tak- en to hospital for treatment.
Another chilling account ofthe trailer tragedies on Lagos roads could be that which occurred on February 18, 2009, where a family of five were sent to their early grave at Ijesha, due to the recklessness of a truck driver which caused the 40foot container to fall off the truck and land on the Mercedes Benz 2000.
Daily Sun learnt that the average year of the trucks carrying containers in the country is 40 years and above while most of them are bad and unroad worthy. This was as stakeholders who also spoke to Daily Sun blamed the Federal Government for its failure to fix bad roads in the country. They argued it is not only port access roads that these articulated trucks are passing through but also almost all the roads in the country; including ones in the in- ner streets with majority of the roads in bad shape. They said a lot of incidents have happened, without being reported or talked about. Mrs. Janet Adeborioye, who witnessed the container fall at Iyana-Iba told Daily Sun Reporter that the lives of ordinary Nigerians means nothing to those in government..
Accprding to her, when the Helicopter of Vice President Osinbajo crashed landed the other day, the whole world heard about it. She said most of the unfortunate incident would have been averted if the container had been latched to the truck, as it is the practice in societies where there life is being valued.
Speaking with Daily Sun, The National Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNIFIEC), Chief Osita Patrick Chukwu, said incidents of falling containers is the result of bad roads because if the roads are good, the containers will not be falling.
He expressed concern that the that Department of Public Works in the Ministry of Transport should work with due diligence to sanitise the rickety truck.
He added: “There is need to ensure that security agencies on the roads are checkmated and stopped because when they are pursuing the truck drivers and in the process of running and avoiding the security agencies, the containers fall down. Above all, government should ensure the roads are fixed.”
He advised the truck owners to en- sure they buy ones in good condition. “If they are having problems on desk, the desk should be repaired and main- tained while the hooks on the desk should be a proper one, not fake hook.
He noted: “And if you find in any- where the truck hook is having an issue, you try to fix it using industrial welders that will get it correctly before it can suitably carry containers. If they are buying truck, let them fix the truck they are buying. Some trucks are already dilapidated, some are no more road worthy while some are 30 to 35 years old abut are still in use in te coun- try.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation should do the needful and to bring every stakeholder in that business to ensure that any truck that is above 15 years should be written of unworthy to be on the road.”
Meanwhile, President, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said majority of the cause has to do with the condition of the roads. He said if the road is bad and a container passes through it, there is tendency of falling because the container is there to contain.
He stated: “Because of the height of the container, there are some loads inside the container, if such container is driven through a very rough road, a road that has a pot hoole, then; there is every tendency that such container because of the height can shift to one side, if the container is bend together with the truck, that could lead to the falling of the container.
If you go to around creek road, Tin Can, you will see that falling of container there is as a result of bad roads.”
On the alleged that most of the trucks carrying containers are over 40 years and not road worthy, he said Nigeria does not manufacture trucks that average Nigerians depends or relying on ‘Tokunbo’ trucks and cars.
He explained: “And Tokunbo trucks or cars are vehicles that are still tested in one country or the other. Either the truck is 40 or 50 years that is not the issue. Then, whoever that is thinking that the age of the truck is the reason why the containers are falling, then what would they do? Do we manufacture trucks here in Nigeria? We are just managing what we have, not until we are able to produce, assemble or have a truck factory that are assembly trucks here in Nigeria.