By Oyeniyi Iwakun
The increasing loss of lives and properties as a result of Trucks and Tankers’ accidents in recent times have called for public discuss and caution. Aside the havoc and setbacks it creates in the society, more sadness and grief are unleashed on the families of the victims, especially, those who lost their lives to the accidents.
These accidents can be attributed to so many factors including: driver’s health; fatigue and drowsiness; weather conditions; obstacles and debris on the road; long driving hours; unskilled mechanics; driver’s distraction, such as texting and eating; poor condition of Vehicles; lack of proper maintenance; reckless driving due to alcoholism, tiredness; over speeding, overloading, wrong overtaking and others, but chief among these is the absence e of professionalism and proper regulation of the sector in Nigeria.
Nigerian roads are terribly bad and in most cases, the trucks and tankers are driven by illiterates who often did not acquire the necessary trainings to do so. Hence, the continuous disregard for traffic rules, regulations and safety precautions that often lead to accidents. Of course, it may be argued that most of these drivers do not even have a drivers’ license.
It is incontrovertible that most of the trucks are used for moving goods from South to North and from North to the Southern part of the country, but it has been discovered that majority of these trucks are outdated and have been over used by the previous owners before they are brought into Nigeria. In fact, some are said to be over 30 to 50 years old before they are imported thereby leading to regular break down on the roads and exposing the drivers and other road users to great risks.
Again, truck owners in Nigeria are bereft of maintenance culture and would never think of buying new and standard ones even when it becomes obvious that the ones in use have exhausted their usefulness and values, hence, most of the trucks’ drivers spend days on the roads without proper hiegene and sanitation cum welfare packages. This frustration often have advserse effects on them while driving.
The most recent of such was in Lagos where 9 people lost their lives, 54 vehicles burnt, 4 persons fatally injured as a result of the accident on the Otedola Bridge, caused by a fuel laden tanker according to a report by the Federal Road Safety Corps. Although there are controversial accounts of the real cause of the accident even as the number of causalities and losses are disputable coupled with the fact that the accident is believed to have been underreported by the press and other concerned authorities. Barely 24 hours later another tanker explosion happened at Mallam Karo, along Minna-Suleja Road in Niger state due to a collision between a truck and a fuel tanker. Few days earlier, a flat bed truck laden with plywood and finished boards tilted on top of Ojuelegba bridge and fell on three commercial buses and a Toyota Corolla Camry leaving two people dead while two other people sustained injuries.
Similar accidents had claimed lives in the last three years. In one of the accidents in September 2015, in which three members of the same family died, the relations are still pursuing N10billion compensation suit at the Lagos High Court. Both the Lagos and Federal governments, along with the owners of the truck, are defendants in the case.
Astonishingly, it appears that we have not really learnt our lessons as these abnormalities are left unchallenged by the authorities. Rather than addressing the problems, Nigerian security agents demand bribes and other forms of inducements from erring road users which indirectly serves as encouragement for them to do more.
Another major challenge is the absence of emergency services of international standard to rescue victims while sypathisizers are often limited because they lack the proffessional skills to give the required aid and in most cases the FRSC and the National Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) get to the accident scenes late.
It is important that government becomes proactive in addressing this menace as many lives are lost on daily basis. Truck drivers should be adequately trained and sensitized on traffic rules and safety measures. Anyone guilty of traffic offences and reckless driving should be charged and prosecuted appropriately. Government should provide emergency centres along high ways and other strategic places to cater for accident victims. Trailer parks or truck transit parks should be built in major cities and other strategic places for regular stop overs and refreshments for drivers embarking on a long distance journey. Rather than taking video shots and pictures for social media fun, accident victims should be rescued by people around while neccesary agencies should be contacted in cases of fatalities.