Why Are Trucks Falling On Us?
The rate at which heavy duty vehicles flood Nigerian roads and the horrible condition of many of these trailers and tankers is something to worry about.
But while you worry, also ensure your voice is heard about the need to make our roads safer.
The other day on Lagos-Ibadan express, an old rickety trailer got tired of dragging along its heavy burden of a fully loaded container and so it broke free while in motion.
The container fell off and blocked the entire road but luckily, this happened around 1am and there was no casualty.
A traffic official told Bounce News on the scene that the accident was caused by the weakness in the body of the truck owing to years of rust unattended.
The next incident within the same month of January was not that simple.
Some parts of Lagos stood still after an engine oil carrying trailer plunged into the Ogun river from the Kara bridge area of Opic, also on Lagos-Ibadan express.
Motorists driving out of Lagos were left stranded for hours as the response team of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) battled to clear the blockage created.
This time, a six-year-old boy and three other adults were snatched by the cold hands of death.
The dead boy and his mother were on an Okada while the other three dead persons were occupants of the truck, who were found dead after LASEMA officials brought out the truck head from the river.
Less than 24 hours after this, Bounce News met another incident involving a truck again at the Toll Gate end of Ikeja with LASEMA battling to clear the needless traffic that came with it.
This truck also fell in the middle of the road, unprovoked!
In January alone, there were about seven different accidents between the Toll-gate area and Arepo. Then, one starts to wonder if these trucks are on a mission to help government reduce the population.
For many years, we have watched in horror how containers fell off trucks and crushed people to death and how traffic officials repeat that annoying line; ‘truck driver lost control’.
Data from 2006 to 2014 show fatal accidents involving buses were most prevalent on expressways and second in the order of involvement were lorries and trucks.
Trailers and tankers came in fourth position after cars, and the impact remains terribly more severe.
Fast forward to 2016 and the FRSC report shows that cars recorded the highest with a total of 5,310 (34%) followed by motorcycles with 3,123 (20%) while minibuses ranked third with 2,877(18%).
Of course, the recent popularity of okada influenced this but how much of these crashes were caused by the trailers and tankers is what we cannot tell.
But it is important to ask if the Nigerian government learns much from such data.
Asides the fact that many companies that own these trucks do not care how much danger their horrible conditions constitute, have you seen the attitude of an average trailer or tanker driver?
Those guys are bullies. They practically own the roads and they drive with the confidence that other road users are at more risk than them.
They have little or no respect for road signs, speed limits or rights of way.
Is the government saying they are so important to the economy that the lives they take on a regular basis don’t matter?
Undoubtedly, lorries, trucks, trailers and tankers are crucial to the economic growth of a nation that has not invested enough in its rail system, but must their activities cost lives and property?
With the way they break down at will, burn at will, damage the roads, claim lives and truncate other economic activities, is it not a classic case of penny wise pound foolish?
Who even certifies these old rickety trucks fit to ply our roads? Who certifies those obviously mentally deranged drivers fit to live among humans, let alone drive?
Isn’t it shocking that some of them cannot even read or write? How then would they understand basic road signs?
The lives of innocent Nigerians cannot continue to be at risk because of the negligence of a few.
That these trucks are still so many on our roads is enough shame. The least we can do is to have a special process for their monitoring to ensure only the road-worthy among them are certified.
There are no two ways to say that there needs to be tighter regulations in the approval of road worthiness for the heavy-duty vehicles that ply Nigerian roads.