Curbing Carnage On Lagos Roads


Sadly, thousands of innocent Lagosians have died in avoidable accidents on Lagos  roads, southwest Nigeria.

The rate at which this carnage occurs on the state’s roads is frightening, making  human life cheap, just like that of animals. Carelessness, impatience, breakdown of  vehicles due to mechanical faults and reckless driving, among others are responsible  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.  For too long, oil tankers have become a serious menace on Lagos roads. There have  been several death resulting from the explosion of oil tankers on the road. In one  fell swoop, hundreds of lives are lost and scores of vehicles are razed.

Most of these tankers, trailers and trucks drive recklessly and don’t care what  happens to other vehicles on the road. Their drivers feel that because of their  size, they could easily intimidate smaller vehicles on the roads. Some of them  intentionally move into the lane of an approaching car and never bother they are  driving against traffic. The smaller vehicles have no choice than to leave the road  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 are  illiterate, heartless and are often drunk while driving. Drivers of these vehicles  drink excessively and pose a threat on the highways.

Also, indiscriminate parking of the vehicles has led to series of avoidable  accidents, especially at night.   Unwary vehicles have run into stationary trailers  parked by road sides, resulting in fatal accidents.

To worsen the case, over 90 per cent of tankers, trailers and articulated trucks do  no have retro-reflective tapes at the back of their vehicles for better visibility,  especially at night or  when it rains. The tape will  enable oncoming vehicle to see  a parked trailer a few metres ahead to avoid running into it. It also comes in handy  when visibility is poor when it rains. The tape reflects when a vehicle’s light is  beamed on it.

Stakeholders are worried that Lagos roads have become paths of death because of the  activities of these vehicles and urgently want government to move to remedy the  situation and ensure adequate safety on our roads.

Only last week, at Alakija area of Lagos, a tanker fell and spilled its content on  the road which resulted in a fire disaster. Several lives were lost and cars burnt  while many were hospitalized. Also last week, another tanker accident was averted as  a Conoil tanker with faulty valve spilled its content on the Lagos-Ikorodu Highway.   But for the timely intervention of the fire servicemen and officials of the Lagos  State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, another disaster would have occurred.

Over a year ago, a tanker fell on the Ojuelegba Bridge and caught fire.  Several  lives and cars were burnt. There have been many similar incidents in the Lagos  metropolis in which several lives were lost as a result of accidents involving  tankers, trailers and the rest.

To salvage the situation, the Lagos State Government last Friday held a one-day  seminar to flag off a road safety campaign with the theme Truck Safety: Time for  Action. The event was a collaboration between Chevron Nigeria Limited, the Federal  Road Safety Corp, FRSC, Non-Government Organisations and other stakeholders.

This became necessary to further ensure the safety of lives and property of road  users and fulfil the recommendations adopted by the United Nations during the 2010  Safety World Conference held in United Kingdom.

Mrs. Temidayo Ogan, Executive Director, Temidayo Organ Child Safety and Support  Foundation, an NGO, said the campaign would enable stakeholders take action to build  on the foundation of the Lagos State government on improving safety in  transportation and haulage business in the state as well as to activate the UN’s  decade of action for road safety.

“It will help reduce the figure of nearly 1.3 million people who are killed all over  the world and another 50 million who sustain injuries as a result of road traffic  accidents,” she stated.

Mr. Patrick Adenusi, Director, Safety Behind Borders, who spoke on Truck Safety  Issues and Planned, lamented that in Nigeria, traffic safety was not a priority of  government and that the society has adopted it to be so, while he went on to give  series of cases of avoidable accidents in Lagos and Nigeria.

“Trucks have been killing people. When visibility is poor, the object in your front  needs to be enhanced before you see them. The United Nations has taken the decade  between 2011 and 2021 as one to reduce accidents on our roads by 50 per cent.

“Trucks parked indiscriminately on road sides have led to indiscriminate loss of  lives. The killings on our highways must be removed. Trucks need to have  retro-reflective tapes to be visible,” he stated.

General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs Chevron Nigeria Limited,  Engr. Femi Odumabo, emphasized that “when trucks break down, warning signs like  leaves, drums and stones are not visible at night,” adding that trucks should have  red and white tapes on it to enhance their visibility.

He stated that in order to minimize accidents on roads, truck drivers should ensure  consciousness, advising that principles guiding their profession should be adhered  to. He added that this would help to reduce the rate of accidents and casualties.  Similarly, he advised drivers to be alert and avoid driving under the influence of  drugs and alcohol while keeping speed appropriate to road conditions and traffic  codes.

Mr. Alex Opene, Head, Truck Safety Initiative, Chevron, said the reasons accidents  involving tanker drivers were rampant in the state were driving with fatigue; king  of the road mentality; poor maintained trucks; poor visibility-lack of the use of  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, stressing  that “better visibility means few crashes and fewer fatalities. Reflective tape is  proving to be very effective. From study conducted by the United States National  Highway Traffic Safety Affairs, users of retro-reflective tapes on trucks can reduce  side and rear end crashes by 29 per cent, especially at night.”

Kayode Opeifa, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Transportation,  decried the rate at which trucks, tankers and trailers caused accidents on the  state’s highways. “It has been so easy for trucks to take away lives in Lagos State.  The case of Da Grin is an example. He died when his vehicle ran into an abandoned  truck that does not have retro-reflective tapes,” he said.

According to Opeifa, a study carried out between 16 and 26 September, 2008 on some  selected roads in Lagos State showed that 135 vehicles broke down on the road in two  weeks out of which trucks accounted for 109, representing 84 per cent of breakdown  vehicle on roads in the state.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, lamented the  loss of several innocent lives who could contribute meaningfully to the development  of the nation.

He said that most of these accidents involving trucks, trailers and articulated  vehicles were caused by rear and side impact on haulage trucks as well as poor  visibility of such truck, adding that “the rear impact occur when the truck is on  motion, moving slowly, stopping or being stopped on the highway while that of side  impact occur mostly while the truck is making U-turns.

Opeifa stated that as a measure to reduce the rate of accidents involving tankers  and others, the truck safety campaign would be used to flag off the fixing of retro  reflective tape on over 2,000 trucks which were plying Lagos roads.

Mr. Danjuma Garba, Assistant Corps Marshal, Zonal Commanding Officer RS 2, FRSC,  Lagos was bitter that several lives had been lost as a result of carelessness on the  part of truck drivers.

“The issue of safety is something we must all take seriously. Do Nigerians value  lives? The FRSC cannot do this alone. The success we have achieved in the area of  crash helmet came because we collaborated with the Lagos State Government. Nigeria  must take the lives of its citizens seriously.

“Draconian action should be taken seriously on those who cause the death of somebody  else. At least, $3 billion are lost annually to crashes in the country. At times,  you will see new couple driving with baby on their lap. This is ignorance. Safety is  something that all of us must embrace.

“We need enforcement; if people bring tokunbo vehicles and do not maintain them,  they should get off the road. They should be punished. Bad driver is another problem  we face. There is need for NATO, owners of these trucks to maintain them. Drivers  have responsibilities to the populace.

“Don’t drive a vehicle when it is not in good shape. LASTMA and FRSC should not  compromise in the area of enforcement. We want zero tolerance to accidents in  Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria that you have conductors graduating to become  drivers,” he stated.

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