I have heard stories of heavy-duty trucks either losing their brakes and ramming into vehicles ahead of them or losing balance and tripping over and crushing other vehicles nearby. I was close to witnessing one last Friday afternoon. I drove past a container-laden truck by the Sango-Ota Garage on the way to Lagos. Moments later, I got to the U-turn almost opposite the Zenith Bank branch before the Ota shopping mall where there was a traffic build up caused by vehicles turning. I was in the middle of the sloping road. Suddenly, the truck emerged with the conductor shouting, eh! Eh!! Eh!!! The driver was also waving frantically that everyone should clear off his way. It was obvious the truck had no brakes. There was bedlam. I managed to make a sudden swerve into a safe opening by the median and watched as the truck almost crashed into the Kia car that was left in its path on the outermost lane. The small car survived just.
The truck then continued its slow glide down the sloping road to the Sango-Ota old tollgate. Interestingly, the truck driver made no attempt to stop. One or two vehicles managed to overtake the truck and moved ahead to warn motorists and traffic officials at the usually crowded old tollgate. Others, including me, maintained a safe distance behind the truck. I was relieved that the traffic at the tollgate was light and traffic officials at the old tollgate U-turn quickly cleared road at the approach of the truck. Still the truck driver continued. I slowed down to see if there was any FRSC patrol officers near the old tollgate to alert to the danger the truck posed to other road users, but there was none in sight.
I slowed down told an Ogun State traffic agency (TRACE) official at the u-turn that the truck had no brakes. She said they knew, but could not stop it. She just advised I keep a distance from it. I moved on and crossed the border into Lagos. I later overtook the truck, observing that it had no rear lights. It also had no vehicle registration number plate displayed at the rear, neither was there any identification in front. It was a rickety Mack truck. As I drove past, I managed to glance at the driver. I wondered why he was risking driving a truck with faulty brakes.
But this driver isn’t the only one who endangers the lives of others on the road. Heavy-duty truck drivers are the Boko Haram on our roads. They kill and maim with impunity. Hardly would a week end without a report of accident involving container-laden or tipper trucks and petroleum tankers. Many Nigerians lose their lives in such accidents and the bereaved families are left to mourn their losses. There is hardly any redress for victims, whether dead or injured. Usually the drivers involved, if they survive, manipulate the system, and get back to ply the road.
I have noted in this column in the past that the agencies responsible for keeping sanity are not doing enough to ensure that only the roadworthy vehicles and fit drivers are on the road. I assess the agencies, particularly the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) by the obvious aberrations that I observe daily and which nothing is seen to have been done to check. For instance, as observed with the Mack truck described above, majority of the container trucks on our roads have no rear lights. If in doubt, whenever you drive in the night, check all container-bearing trucks on your way. Also check how many of this species of trucks have vehicle number plates on.
What about headlamps? Some move without this essential vehicle part in the night. Some have single headlamp. From afar you would mistake the single headlamp trucks for tricycle until you almost run into them. How about those with strange, irregular headlamps that blind or confuse drivers of oncoming vehicles?
I’ve also noted that on our roads, slow vehicles, and most especially trucks, drive on the fast lane, while the fast vehicles are forced to overtake by the right instead of the left. Sometimes, because of the pervasiveness of this anomaly, I wonder if it’s not the rule here.
And don’t the authorities see the rickety trucks? Don’t they have retirement age for trucks and cars that have advanced too long in age? I’m referring to trucks that any right thinking person knows that their presence on the road is to increase the risk of breakdowns and/or accidents as well as avoidable deaths. When we were growing up, vehicle inspection officials issue ‘off the road’ stickers to such vehicles that pose danger to others, but this safety rule, if still in existence, is very rarely enforced.
Now to every Nigerian, the fear of container truck is the beginning of wisdom. Whether ahead, beside or behind you, motorists and passengers feel and fear the terror of the trucks, and on the challenge that a more conscientious enforcement of rules will help, we, as usual resign to fate and leave our safety in the hands of God.
Re: Nigeria is a joke
Good morning, Mr. Oladeinde. I just read your article in Sunday Sun. I weep for the nation called Nigeria. In this same paper in another article it is alleged that the country lost more than $900m between 2009 and 2012 alone. It’s more than enough to solve Nigeria’s power situation permanently. Our past governments and leaders have sold the birthright of this great nation for generations to come.
–Nwanze Amechi, Lagos
When Ray Ekpu, many years ago, wrote, “Nigeria is God’s own impossible experiment,” he was accused of having a ‘diabolic sense of humor’. Then things were better. Now as they say at Ogbete Motor park, ‘anti afugo nke toro Biaty (we have seen the one that seniors beauty). Nigeria is a SENIOR JOKE! We have heard the truth from a sincere economist, not pretenders. What do we know how to do if not steal what belongs to all of us and build 50-room mansions, park 10 exotic cars and preach ‘think not what your country can do to you’ blablabla? A retired pensioner after 35 years or 60 years is being owed 10 months arrears of pension; he hasn’t got his gratuity, yet a governor who served eight years is not owed a dime. Check it out now, Naija is a joke
–Tony Enyinta, Isuikwuato.
Abdulfatah, what a frightening but true expression of the country’s situation in “NIGERIA IS A JOKE”! It is like removing the veil from a well garbed, good dancing but pretentious masquerade! Nigeria’s social and economic situations were left nude, by the well-articulated facts in sound data format to tell Nigerians that the path to the country’s bailout, from her seeming intractable problems, is bumpy and devoid of solution by pretentious promise of government that all will be well very soon. Only dumb Nigerians would take government’s assurances as accomplished as and at when stated. Just a few days back, the Finance Minister stated that foreign loans, which were in the past touted as a formidable channel of combating economic depression of the country and a potent relief to sufferings of Nigerians, would no longer be patronised; obviously because the system has added more problems than salvage them for Nigerians. Her alternative to foreign loan is generation of revenue through taxation. In their usual ploy, she called on private sector operatives to declare their various assets altruistically. This is the sector that produces what poor Nigerians need for survival. When such a sector is subjected to consuming taxation, its effect is increase in prices of consumables produced for human consumption. So, who finally bears the brunt of the intended revenue generation device than poor Nigerians? Meanwhile, any deposit above ten thousand naira into any bank account, savings, which are targeted at economic enhancements in future or current to enhance present economic activities, is subjected to VAT by government. All these answer your question “but for how long are we going to continue this comedy show?” Eternity it connotes, by government’s serial clueless economic devices. God save Nigeria.
For Nigeria to stop being a joke, what stops Nigerians, the media, NBA NLC etc., collectively joining hands together and putting pressure on NASS to pass integrity checking point law, which provisions anybody who wants to rule at any level of government must fulfill before getting INEC certification to contest election and screening by EFCC and ICPC before leaving office? If such system can be applied to filter our leaders, that is the real foundation to fight corruption and enthrone good governance.
Sir, if you have never seen a government that is extremist, this is the one. Do they want to tell us that no one was good in the GEJ administration to reinstate? Even Adesina, former agricultural minister; Okonjo-lweala and others. Obasanjo appointed Bola Ige of the AD as minister. Was Ige of the PDP? Isn’t it a fact that 70% of those in the current administration were holding the PDP umbrella before joining the broom party?
–Longinus O. lhedinihu.
Abdulfatah, I greet you for so clearly, depicting the near hopeless state of affairs in our country Nigeria in all fronts. No honest Nigerian will, after reading your rendition of how big a joke our dear nation has become, and not be moved. But if what Nigeria has become is so worrisome, what it is most likely to become if nothing is done to halt the slide downhill, is most frightening to the discerning minds remembering that we got to where we are now, due to the refusal of our leaders since 1966, to be patriotic and look at the big picture instead of the narrow selfish regional, religious and tribal short term benefits. What hurts most in our present situation is that most of the present crop of leaders, are not ready to see where those that handed over to them missed it. The truth is that Nigeria became sick the day a few military officers and their cronies gave us a constitution that collapsed our erstwhile federal state into a choking unitary one. For things to change, we must reduce the revenue that goes to the federal government and its responsibilities as well. The states or regions are where the bulk of Nigerians live and so they should earn more revenue and use it to provide the kind of development that suits them. The system we operate breeds corruption and corrupt leaders and that is what has turned Nigeria into a huge joke. One wonders, therefore, why some people resist the suggestion that Nigeria should be restructured. Thanks.
In the article that you published last Sunday, you were bold enough to write the truth about Nigeria. Our Nigerian leaders have kept away from this truth. That Nigeria is a joke is what no politician in Nigeria will talk about, because of getting money from the corrupt Nigerian politics. Nigeria is a country in name. A country where there is no national direction, no patriotism, no ideology, no focus and no cohesion. Nigeria has nothing to offer her citizens. The upcoming Nigerian generation; Nigerian children newly born and yet to be born in this joke called Nigeria are doomed already.
No hope. Those born by rich parents will live and mingle with the poor and wretch of the earth, in this joke called Nigeria. Nigeria is also a deception. Nigeria is a British deception. Nigeria is a forced political concoction of different nations that are not united in any way. Nigeria was made by the British for their own selfish divide and rule advantage. This was to sap and steal Nigerian resources. Nigerians have not been able to dismantle this British colonial prison called Nigeria. Until Nigerians come together and map out their own countries out of this unworkable joke called Nigeria, real development and national identity and integration will never happen. Nigerians are in 1914 while the world is in 2017.
Our politicians keep their stolen monies in different countries. This is because they don’t trust this joke called Nigeria. In this joke called Nigeria, the Federal Government does not obey court orders! The amalgamation of 1914 has expired. Tribal rivalries and militancy belong to last century. I look forward to the historic day that all Nigerian representatives will meet in Abuja and lower the Nigerian flag, rejoice and embrace each other, and then go home to their various countries with their different flags. That will be the first defeat of colonialism in this joke called Nigeria. We will then smile and laugh at this British contraption called Nigeria. That will be our first Independence Day celebration in Nigeria! In the joke called Sudan, there was a referendum and South Sudan left. South Sudan is now a country. In the communist joke called Soviet Union, there was a referendum and many countries emerged from this almighty military enclave.
Recall that Soviet Union was the second most powerful country, after the United States. In Spain, the Catalonia people will soon leave the joke called Spain.
I dare to ask, when will this joke called Nigeria come to a peaceful end? Mr. Abdulfatah Oladeinde, I praise your boldness and courage for writing the truth that will set Nigeria free! Did our politicians read your write up of last Sunday? I hope they will not detain you in prison if they read it.
–Henry A. Okonkwo