Killer Truck On The Prowl
On August 13, 2008, a truck with registration number XN 982 SMK, lost balance while negotiating the bend linking the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Ikeja with Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, and the two containers it was carrying fell off and crushed an unidentified woman to death. A commercial motorcyclist also lost his two legs in the same incidence when he fell off his motorcycle.
A policeman, identified as Daniel, attached to Area ‘G’ Police Command, Ogba, left his house at 3, Makinde Street, Iyana Meiran, Ojokoro, Lagos for his place of assignment on a motorcycle on 29 November, 2007. He never got to there as he was crushed to death by a truck. He was married with seven children.
A pregnant woman and a soldier were also among 10 persons burnt to death when two petroleum tankers fell and exploded at Orile-Iganmu, Lagos in the early morning of Thursday, 24 July, 2008. The accident occurred when a petrol tanker hit another tanker carrying diesel. A spill on the road was said to have ignited fire which consumed the diesel tanker and led to an explosion of the petrol tanker.
Also on Sunday, 23 September, 2008 at Coates Street, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, a four-year old boy was crushed to death when a trailer with registration number XA 894 KRV had a break failure.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja was also not spared of the incidence of containers falling off trucks. About two months ago, 22 people were reportedly killed when a container fell off a Julius Berger truck, with registration number XD 812 ABJ. The container fell on a commercial Toyota 18-seater bus. A family, including the father, mother and their three children and another pregnant woman were believed to be among the victims.
Sometime in 2006, about 13 people were crushed to death when a container fell off a truck with registration number XL 258 APP, which had a head-on collision with a passenger bus and a Toyota Camry car on the ever-busy Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. These and many others were the havocs caused by trucks carrying containers on the country’s roads.
Commenting on these accidents, a Lagosian, Mr. Kola Agbokere of Lawanson, Surulere, said: “Many of these truck drivers drive as if the highways are meant for them alone. They are so reckless. In my own judgement, I think they are the cause of most of the accidents involving them.”
Another Lagosian, Mr. Julius Solanke, a resident of Ifako-Ijaiye area of Lagos State, explained that most of the truck drivers were always under the influence of alcohol and drugs. “When you see them driving, you cannot but conclude that they are already high on something. My candid suggestion to the state government is to demolish all ‘paraga’ joints spread all over our motor parks,” he stated.
In an interview with P.M.News, Mr. Sina Thorpe, the PRO, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation said: “We really need to trace the genesis of the problem. In those days when the railway system was operational, haulage was done through it. But the poor state of the railway transportation system brought trucks into the haulage business. Not many checks were put into place before they started operation.
“The state government discovered that these incessant road mishaps occurred because these trucks are not roadworthy; containers are not properly latched. This has led to a kind of a running battle with truck owners. Government has been dialoguing with federal agencies and the management of the port authority to put an end to this. T
“There is supposed to be a weigh-bridge system to check that trucks are roadworthy, not overloaded and that they are in proper conditions. They should not cause mishap or pose any danger to other road users.”
According to the PRO, Gov. Fashola has already given directive through the Ministry of Transportation that, henceforth, trucks that are not roadworthy or carry containers not properly latched should be arrested.
“The enforcement has not been easy. We have had cases in the past where our men were manhandled, attacked and assaulted. For this, the Commissioner for Transportation last week paid a courtesy call on the state Commissioner of Police to seek his assistance. We cannot just go out and enforce without police backup.
“The state government will also be bringing back weigh bridges at strategic places within the metropolis,” he added.
To show how serious the government is, the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation recently impounded 11 unlatched vehicles at Apapa. The operation was led by Mr. Emmanuel Ogunlade, the Zonal Area Commander of the Vehicle Inspection Unit, Apapa.