6th December, 2010
Sadly, thousands of innocent Lagosians have died in avoidable accidents on LagosÂ roads, southwest Nigeria.
The rate at which this carnage occurs on the stateâ€™s roads is frightening, makingÂ human life cheap, just like that of animals. Carelessness, impatience, breakdown ofÂ vehicles due to mechanical faults and reckless driving, among others are responsibleÂ for these avoidable accidents resulting in loss of lives and property on the roads.
At the heart of these accidents are oil tankers, trailers and articulated trucks.Â For too long, oil tankers have become a serious menace on Lagos roads. There haveÂ been several death resulting from the explosion of oil tankers on the road. In oneÂ fell swoop, hundreds of lives are lost and scores of vehicles are razed.
Most of these tankers, trailers and trucks drive recklessly and donâ€™t care whatÂ happens to other vehicles on the road. Their drivers feel that because of theirÂ size, they could easily intimidate smaller vehicles on the roads. Some of themÂ intentionally move into the lane of an approaching car and never bother they areÂ driving against traffic. The smaller vehicles have no choice than to leave the roadÂ for them, even though they are on the right path, to avoid being crushed.
Most of the accidents occur because most of the drivers of these trucks areÂ illiterate, heartless and are often drunk while driving. Drivers of these vehiclesÂ drink excessively and pose a threat on the highways.
Also, indiscriminate parking of the vehicles has led to series of avoidableÂ accidents, especially at night.Â Â Unwary vehicles have run into stationary trailersÂ parked by road sides, resulting in fatal accidents.
To worsen the case, over 90 per cent of tankers, trailers and articulated trucks doÂ no have retro-reflective tapes at the back of their vehicles for better visibility,Â especially at night orÂ when it rains. The tape willÂ enable oncoming vehicle to seeÂ a parked trailer a few metres ahead to avoid running into it. It also comes in handyÂ when visibility is poor when it rains. The tape reflects when a vehicleâ€™s light isÂ beamed on it.
Stakeholders are worried that Lagos roads have become paths of death because of theÂ activities of these vehicles and urgently want government to move to remedy theÂ situation and ensure adequate safety on our roads.
Only last week, at Alakija area of Lagos, a tanker fell and spilled its content onÂ the road which resulted in a fire disaster. Several lives were lost and cars burntÂ while many were hospitalized. Also last week, another tanker accident was averted asÂ a Conoil tanker with faulty valve spilled its content on the Lagos-Ikorodu Highway.Â Â But for the timely intervention of the fire servicemen and officials of the LagosÂ State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, another disaster would have occurred.
Over a year ago, a tanker fell on the Ojuelegba Bridge and caught fire.Â SeveralÂ lives and cars were burnt. There have been many similar incidents in the LagosÂ metropolis in which several lives were lost as a result of accidents involvingÂ tankers, trailers and the rest.
To salvage the situation, the Lagos State Government last Friday held a one-dayÂ seminar to flag off a road safety campaign with the theme Truck Safety: Time forÂ Action. The event was a collaboration between Chevron Nigeria Limited, the FederalÂ Road Safety Corp, FRSC, Non-Government Organisations and other stakeholders.
This became necessary to further ensure the safety of lives and property of roadÂ users and fulfil the recommendations adopted by the United Nations during the 2010Â Safety World Conference held in United Kingdom.
Mrs. Temidayo Ogan, Executive Director, Temidayo Organ Child Safety and SupportÂ Foundation, an NGO, said the campaign would enable stakeholders take action to buildÂ on the foundation of the Lagos State government on improving safety inÂ transportation and haulage business in the state as well as to activate the UNâ€™sÂ decade of action for road safety.
â€œIt will help reduce the figure of nearly 1.3 million people who are killed all overÂ the world and another 50 million who sustain injuries as a result of road trafficÂ accidents,â€ she stated.
Mr. Patrick Adenusi, Director, Safety Behind Borders, who spoke on Truck SafetyÂ Issues and Planned, lamented that in Nigeria, traffic safety was not a priority ofÂ government and that the society has adopted it to be so, while he went on to giveÂ series of cases of avoidable accidents in Lagos and Nigeria.
â€œTrucks have been killing people. When visibility is poor, the object in your frontÂ needs to be enhanced before you see them. The United Nations has taken the decadeÂ between 2011 and 2021 as one to reduce accidents on our roads by 50 per cent.
â€œTrucks parked indiscriminately on road sides have led to indiscriminate loss ofÂ lives. The killings on our highways must be removed. Trucks need to haveÂ retro-reflective tapes to be visible,â€ he stated.
General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs Chevron Nigeria Limited,Â Engr. Femi Odumabo, emphasized that â€œwhen trucks break down, warning signs likeÂ leaves, drums and stones are not visible at night,â€ adding that trucks should haveÂ red and white tapes on it to enhance their visibility.
He stated that in order to minimize accidents on roads, truck drivers should ensureÂ consciousness, advising that principles guiding their profession should be adheredÂ to. He added that this would help to reduce the rate of accidents and casualties.Â Similarly, he advised drivers to be alert and avoid driving under the influence ofÂ drugs and alcohol while keeping speed appropriate to road conditions and trafficÂ codes.
Mr. Alex Opene, Head, Truck Safety Initiative, Chevron, said the reasons accidentsÂ involving tanker drivers were rampant in the state were driving with fatigue; kingÂ of the road mentality; poor maintained trucks; poor visibility-lack of the use ofÂ reflective tapes on body of trucks; axle load issues; poor load retention and speed.
According to him, the use of retro-reflective tapes enhance visibility, stressingÂ that â€œbetter visibility means few crashes and fewer fatalities. Reflective tape isÂ proving to be very effective. From study conducted by the United States NationalÂ Highway Traffic Safety Affairs, users of retro-reflective tapes on trucks can reduceÂ side and rear end crashes by 29 per cent, especially at night.â€
Kayode Opeifa, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Transportation,Â decried the rate at which trucks, tankers and trailers caused accidents on theÂ stateâ€™s highways. â€œIt has been so easy for trucks to take away lives in Lagos State.Â The case of Da Grin is an example. He died when his vehicle ran into an abandonedÂ truck that does not have retro-reflective tapes,â€ he said.
According to Opeifa, a study carried out between 16 and 26 September, 2008 on someÂ selected roads in Lagos State showed that 135 vehicles broke down on the road in twoÂ weeks out of which trucks accounted for 109, representing 84 per cent of breakdownÂ vehicle on roads in the state.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, lamented theÂ loss of several innocent lives who could contribute meaningfully to the developmentÂ of the nation.
He said that most of these accidents involving trucks, trailers and articulatedÂ vehicles were caused by rear and side impact on haulage trucks as well as poorÂ visibility of such truck, adding that â€œthe rear impact occur when the truck is onÂ motion, moving slowly, stopping or being stopped on the highway while that of sideÂ impact occur mostly while the truck is making U-turns.
Opeifa stated that as a measure to reduce the rate of accidents involving tankersÂ and others, the truck safety campaign would be used to flag off the fixing of retroÂ reflective tape on over 2,000 trucks which were plying Lagos roads.
Mr. Danjuma Garba, Assistant Corps Marshal, Zonal Commanding Officer RS 2, FRSC,Â Lagos was bitter that several lives had been lost as a result of carelessness on theÂ part of truck drivers.
â€œThe issue of safety is something we must all take seriously. Do Nigerians valueÂ lives? The FRSC cannot do this alone. The success we have achieved in the area ofÂ crash helmet came because we collaborated with the Lagos State Government. NigeriaÂ must take the lives of its citizens seriously.
â€œDraconian action should be taken seriously on those who cause the death of somebodyÂ else. At least, $3 billion are lost annually to crashes in the country. At times,Â you will see new couple driving with baby on their lap. This is ignorance. Safety isÂ something that all of us must embrace.
â€œWe need enforcement; if people bring tokunbo vehicles and do not maintain them,Â they should get off the road. They should be punished. Bad driver is another problemÂ we face. There is need for NATO, owners of these trucks to maintain them. DriversÂ have responsibilities to the populace.
â€œDonâ€™t drive a vehicle when it is not in good shape. LASTMA and FRSC should notÂ compromise in the area of enforcement. We want zero tolerance to accidents inÂ Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria that you have conductors graduating to becomeÂ drivers,â€ he stated.