For Nigeria, it seems that it never rains, but pours. At a time when the nation is still sore, mourning the brutal killing of over 100 persons in two local government areas in Plateau State, death, like the grim reaper that it is, stalked some of our roads, reaping harvests of blood and tears. The deaths, this time, did not come from the hands of armed robbers or terrorists. It came from articulated vehicles, seemingly harmless vehicles that unleashed terror at the most unexpected times.
One of the incidents happened at Ojuelegba, Lagos, on June 19, as an apparently unlatched container fell off a truck on the Ojuelegba Bridge, crushing three persons and four vehicles, and injuring many others. This was just one of the many incidents involving containers falling off their trucks which made the government, some years ago, to order owners of container-carrying trucks to properly latch the containers to their trucks. But, that directive has more or less been an exercise in futility, as it is hardly adhered to by the concerned vehicle operators. A similar incident had happened at the same Ojuelegba Bridge in 2015. The falling container, at that time, killed a couple in a car below.
However, one of the greatest scares on our roads occurred last Thursday as a fuel tanker exploded on the Otedola Link Bridge in Lagos. Nine people, including a pregnant woman and her three children, were reported to have been burnt to death in the incident, while several others were injured. The Lagos authorities, however, later confirmed 12 casualties, including a minor.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the Lagos State Government, through its commissioner for information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, have since commiserated with the families of the affected persons. The Lagos authorities also promised to ensure that measures are put in place to “ensure safety of lives and property of all residents”.
While accidents occur in every part of the world, the frequency at which articulated trucks threaten lives and property in Lagos call for deep thinking on the part of the state’s authorities to reduce it to the barest minimum. The way articulated trucks, especially fuel tankers, cause havoc on our roads is inimical to safe driving in the state. The very idea that fuel tankers laden with as much as 60,000 litres of fuel are allowed to ply the roads at the same time with children and other persons in small vehicles does not indicate that sufficient attention is being paid to security of lives in the country.
Some years ago, following the horrors and terrible gridlocks that trucks and fuel tankers unleashed on other road users, their movement on certain busy public roads was limited to the night only, so that ordinary commuters who have no business moving around at night do not have occasion to encounter them.
But today, especially in Kirikiri, Lagos, the sight of school buses loaded with young children trying to maneuver their way through heavy traffic of fuel tankers and other articulated trucks is a familiar sight. This should not be so. The Lagos state government and other states which have several fuel depots should, in conjunction with Federal transport authorities, come up with ways to reduce the exposure of ordinary citizens to danger from articulated vehicles. The owners of these trucks should also be made to ensure their proper maintenance to reduce incidents of brake failure. The trucks should be subjected to frequent safety audits and certified for roadworthiness, with special attention to their brakes, and fuel discharge valves, before they are allowed to operate. The directive on latching of containers to trucks should be strictly enforced, to reduce the rate at which containers fall off the trucks.
Beyond the condition of the trucks, themselves, is the need for training and retraining of their drivers. All drivers need training on how to avoid accidents, but drivers of articulated trucks, especially fuel tankers, need it even more than others. This is because of the hazardous nature of the materials they carry. Also, the condition of most of our roads is not conducive to safe driving. Pothole-riddled roads often cause accidents, and there is hardly any more attention to driving limits. Gone are the days when road safety officials tried to enforce the speed limits. This is hardly ever the case today as reckless drivers are mostly left to their own devices. All our critical roads should be properly manned by road safety officials, especially at the bad spots and dangerous bends, where appropriate road safety signs should also be placed to guide motorists.
The indiscriminate parking of tankers and other trucks on Lagos bridges is another worrisome scenario that should be reversed. If the tanker accident and fire had occurred somewhere along the bridges that have been taken over by tankers and other articulated trucks in the state, the tragic incident could have been of a more monumental proportion, as it would set so many vehicles and persons ablaze.
I sympathise with the families which have lost their loved ones in this incident and ask God himself to comfort them at this very difficult period. The Lagos state government has done well with the level of assistance it has given the people, providing free treatment at its Trauma and Burns Centre at the Gbagada General Hospital and its teaching hospital in Ikeja, Lagos. Safety on our roads is a responsibility of all, and all hands should be on deck to prevent accidents.
Re: Plateau: When will the killings stop?
The killings will stop when Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) and the President want. The government knows the killers but it looks the other way. The MACBAN always justifies the killings and the government helps to hide their identity. Who is fooling who?
Unless one wants to engage in self-deceit will he say that the issue of herdsmen’s killings does not have the complicity of the security agencies with the backing of some top-ranking political top shots who are also herdsmen and religious bigots.
- LaiAshadele, 07067677806
Your article, “Plateau: When will the killings stop?” was a masterpiece. It is obvious that our security agencies have failed in their primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the innocent citizens of this country. How long will this act of wanton destruction of lives and property by the alleged Fulani herdsmen continue without any of the perpetrators being brought to book?
I agree with you completely that any person who cannot or refuses to carry out the duties for which he/she is appointed and is collecting salary at the end of the month should throw in the towel for another capable person to take over.