Stakeholders in the haulage sector have suggested steps to be taken by motorists, commuters and vehicle owners as well as various regulatory bodies to prevent avoidable crashes on Nigerian roads.
Nigerians have expressed concern over the conduct and behaviour of commercial drivers, especially in the areas of over-speeding, drunk driving and recklessness,which often lead to deaths and other losses.
At a conference organised by Haulmace and Logistics Magazine in Lagos, players in the sector called for a new approach to driver management in order to achieve safety and professionalism in the trade.
The convener of the event, Mr. Alfred Okugbeni, said that he and other professionals have been working with the public and private sectors to spread the message of road safety in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
He urged government to put proper structures in place so that drivers would see a professional outlook in their job. He added that with proper policy and efficient regulation, more people would be attracted to invest in the haulage business.
“We believe that transportation can contribute meaningfully to President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift a hundred million Nigerians out of extreme poverty in the next 10 years. This is why we are calling for an organised sector that all players can benefit from,” he said.
The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, who was represented at the event by Lagos State sector commander, Hyginus Omeje, said that it was not the duty of government to run truck businesses but it could create the enabling environment for the business to thrive.
Said he: “The haulage business has become an all-comers affair. Anyone can buy a trailer tomorrow and put it on the road without training the person that would be driving it. The owner would not care whether there is a space to park it. A policy is needed to streamline a lot of activities in the sector. Tankers, trailers and other vehicles plying the road must be regulated.
“Our roads also need to be looked into. Many of them were designed strictly for vehicles without making room for other road users, including pedestrians.
“Everybody is a stakeholder in safety matters. Unfortunately, some passengers applaud drivers who drive against the flow of traffic. We must have a change of orientation. About 87 per cent of the crashes we record on our roads are a result of drivers’ careless attitude. Over-speeding and its effects account for about 50 per cent of the fatalities that are recorded on our roads.
The Group Managing Director of a haulage and logistics company, A and A Global Leasing Services Limited, Mrs. Oluwaseye Yomi-Sholoye, said the essence of the conference was to re-echo the need for everyone to embrace the gospel of safety on the road.
As one of the leading exhibitors at the conference, she said that hauliers should be continually reminded of the essential role they play, not just in transportation business, but in the safety of lives and property.
“Our roads need to be safe. Our drivers must do their jobs professionally. This is why we train our drivers from time to time. We also empower them with whatever is needed to drive safely. We do all these because the driver is the critical success factor of the haulage business.
“Speed limit is very important in controlling or averting accidents on the road. For this reason, we have installed speed metres on all our vehicles. And to ensure that our drivers comply, we also installed trackers on the vehicles to monitor the drivers’ behaviour while they are behind the wheels,” she said.
She called on the authorities to speedily fix the bad roads across the country. She described some of the potholes on the federal roads and other busy routes as death traps. She said once the roads are fixed, it would mitigate the number of deaths and other economic losses on the country’s roads.
The national president of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMTO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi said: “Constant engagements with our drivers are very vital in curtailing most of the conflicts on the road. But our governments have neglected our roads for so long. If a road that is supposed to accommodate 2, 000 vehicles and you see 50, 000 vehicles struggling on it, there will certainly be a commotion, and that is what we have at the moment. You can’t expect a driver who has not taken his bath for days and sleeping in his truck in a queue to drive normal.
“Our leaders don’t think of tomorrow and the increasing population. They should ensure that the roads are maintained if no new ones are constructed. Most of the federal roads other national facilities were built by the military government,” Ogungbemi said.