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Wake up call to tanker, truck owners

Recent warning by the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) that tanker and truck owners would now be prosecuted alongside their drivers involved in accidents, as a result of reckless driving is very timely.

The number of lives wasted on daily basis by the recklessness of tanker and truck drivers is very alarming. There is no day that passes without records of a truck or tanker crushing a pedestrian, a commercial motorcyclist rider with his passenger or badging on cars killing all the occupants.

Most worrisome is the speed that these tankers and trailers apply even when they are carrying petrol or unlatched containers. These trucks adopt these speed even within the city where they are supposed to maintain some decency.

On the other hand, what happens on the express road defy the calculations of highway safety regulators. These days, motorists are now afraid to use the Lagos Ibadan expressway because of the recklessness of tanker and truck drivers.

No day passes without tens of people being burnt on that road. On a particular day in May about 26 people got burnt in a single collision on that road due to vehicular accident.

Recently thousands of worshippers returning from Holy Ghost Service of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) miraculously escaped being burnt to death along the expressway following a major auto crash barely 48 hours after 10 trucks exploded on the same road.

The accident involved 15 articulated vehicles, a luxury bus, five mini buses and two pick up vans, which were burnt to ashes, while trucks loaded with frozen fish, poultry feed, bags of rice, exotic drinks and other valuables worth millions of naira were destroyed by the billowing fire which broke out after the accident.

FRSC Zonal Commander for Lagos and Ogun states, Ademola Lawal, said a tractor travelling from Lagos to Ibadan punctured a tanker carrying petroleum product while trying to overtake it at about 2.18 a.m.

Lawal said that petrol gushed out of the 33,000 litres tanker and spread all over the highway, resulting in an explosion. After hearing the explosion, some motorists quickly abandoned their vehicles and ran for their dear lives.

For the umpteenth time, the recurring carnages on our road caused by the vicious activities of reckless truck and trailer drivers and the seeming helpless posturing adopted by concerned authorities has reached an alarming level.

More than ever, we are witnessing an upsurge in the collateral damages caused by these merchants of deaths on our roads who have apparently become more powerful than the State.

The disgraceful activities of this group are commonplace across the country but Lagos appears to be worst hit.

The whole scenario calls to mind the Thomas Hobbes State of Nature where life is nasty, brutish and short.

Back home, undertaking, a trip to Apapa in Lagos through the Oshodi-Apapa expressway is a nightmarish experience that no time-conscious person would want to dare.

Petroleum tankers and haulage trailers are the Lords of the Manor in this part of Lagos.

Two lanes of this road are permanently occupied by stationary trucks waiting to load petroleum products from the tank farms or returning freight containers to the wharf.

This indiscriminate parking has caused unquantifiable loss of man hours to the economy and needless bloodletting.

The vices associated with the activities of these drivers are many. It is the norm to park their trucks on the flyover bridges that were designed to bear fleeting and transient weight and not dead weight.

Having suffered accelerated depreciation owing to non-maintenance and massive vandalisation of support utilities like railings and lighting systems, these bridges are already in very precarious states.

Experts say that continuous occupation of these bridges by high-tonnage trucks is only bringing doomsday closer if nothing is done to reverse the trend.

The serviceable state of these trucks also raises lot of concerns as they are always rickety, wobbly, and in a perpetual state of disrepair.

Although the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) took some measures last year to sanitise the state of trucks on the roads. The action lasted for a brief period as the rickety trucks are back on the roads.

More often than not, these trucks and tankers possess malfunctioned brakes.

Every day you see the drivers’ assistants armed with wooden wedges that are used to jolt these carbon-monoxide emitting trucks to a halt, especially on hilly terrains.

Quite a number of these trucks do not have rear lights, indicator lights, C-caution signs and even registration plate numbers.

While tankers and truck drivers remain errant, arresting and jailing them with their owners will help keep everybody in check. It should however not stop there.

Concerted action is required by governments at all levels to checkmate the excesses of recalcitrant drivers while safety regulations should be strictly enforced to guarantee the safety of all road users.

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