Ending frequent truck accidents in Lagos
As at the last count, 12 people have lost their lives while many others lie severely injured in various hospitals as a result of Thursday, June 28th tanker explosion on Otedola Bridge axis on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, where a fully loaded petrol tanker fell and spilled its content on the road. Besides the 12 lives that were lost, many other injured in the fire are struggling for survival at various hospitals in the state while about 54 vehicles were destroyed.
But even before the furore over the accident died down, another similar accident was averted, last week Wednesday at Iyana-Ipaja, when another fully loaded petrol tanker fell, spilling petrol all over the road. It took a concerted effort by various security agencies to manage the situation and ensure no explosion occurred after the accident.
We commiserate with the families of the deceased and wish those who sustained varying degrees of injuries speedy recovery.
But we must state that the Lagos state government and the various transport and traffic management agencies have failed to learn from similar incidences in the past to ensure effective traffic management to forestall the reoccurrence of such incidences. Had they acted after the fuel tanker explosion at FESTAC Link Bridge, in 2014, which destroyed more than 25 cars, the constant falling off of badly latched containers on trailers on Ojuelegba and other bridges in the state with devastating consequences for other road users, the June 28th incidence would not have happened.
Preliminary investigation into the cause of the explosion shows that it was caused by human error. The truck was originally designed to carry 15-tonne, but on the day of the accident, it was carrying double its capacity – 30 tonnes. What was not said however was the monumental failure of government and its plethora of agencies to ensure that the truck was stopped and prevented from causing the avoidable disaster it eventually caused.
And to show that no lessons were learnt, just a few days after the incident, another video of an NNPC fully loaded petrol tanker in motion on Ikorodu road, Maryland, heavily leaking fuel with one man perching dangerously at the bank of the tanker and trying unsuccessfully to control the leakage with just a rag.
It beats us that the police and our overzealous traffic and road management agencies do not see these deadly traffic infractions or conveniently look the other way. As usual, they are preoccupied with chasing after private vehicles from which they could easily extort money. They mount roadblocks just for the purpose of extortion and allow road unworthy vehicles to pass in exchange for gratification without giving a thought to the danger and fatalities road unworthy trucks could cause.
We are encouraged though, that following these unfortunate incidences, the government is now insisting on petrol tankers plying previously designated routes – the Apapa Oworonsoki Expressway via Ogudu to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. But we do not agree with the government’s 30-day ultimatum to owners of these trucks to submit their vehicles for Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) test and obtain the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) Certificate of Road Worthiness. We feel this is another way of merely extorting money from the truck owners and drivers.
Other states of the federation just like Lagos, have VIO offices and issue Certificate of Road Worthiness. It will be expressly against the federal structure or even the constitution of the country for the state government to insist all trucks passing through the state to go the whole hug of submitting their vehicles for tests and obtaining the state’s road worthiness certificate.
We feel what should concern the state government is effective enforcement of traffic rules and strict adherence to designated routes for trucks. It must create a renewed synergy among the various vehicle, road and transport management agencies – the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), the police and the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) – to ensure all trucks coming into and going out of the states follow traffic rules. At the extreme, there could be occasional stop and check to verify the road worthiness of suspected vehicles and trucks.
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