By Evelyn Usman
Globally, auto accident injuries are among the leading causes of death. Back home in Nigeria, they are ranked as the third leading cause of death overall, with more than 39,000 Nigerian deaths reported each year, according to the World Health organization.
In the 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) put the number of road traffic fatalities in Nigeria at 39,802, while the estimated rate per 100,000 deaths stood at 21 ,4.
One type of traffic accident that is increasing daily in Nigeria, with little or no effort from the government to address it, is that caused by articulated trucks – tankers loaded with combustible substances or trucks in containers. And whenever it happens, there is usually a gratuitous destruction of life and property.
The most recent occurred last month in Kogi state, where 23 people, including five students from the Kogi State Polytechnic, three primary school children who were being taken to school by their father, and a woman with her two children, they died in a fire. A tanker explosion also obliterated several cars and other properties around the Felele area of Lokoja, the capital of Kogi state.
A similar incident involving three vehicles; a Toyota Carina, Scania Truck and Mack Tanker, happened on the same expressway two years earlier.
That same year, a fully loaded 33,000-liter fuel tanker exploded on the Otedola bridge along the Lagos-Ibadan highway, killing many people and wiping out some 67 vehicles.
Two months ago, a tanker truck exploded along the Owerri / Onitsha expressway in Imo state while unloading premium motor alcohol at one of the gas stations along the highway. Unfortunately, a woman and two other people died in the resulting hell.
The list is endless. From the north to south, east and west regions of Nigeria, the story is the same: bloodbath!
Containers without latch
The transportation of containers to or from the ports of Apapa and Tin-Can Island has become one of the most critical sources of danger for road users. The sight of these heavy trucks sends fear to many motorists, as they are considered a mobile death trap, due to the open containers that are usually dropped. Sometimes these containers that can never be lifted by humans except cranes land on other vehicles, killing occupants who never imagined such a tragedy that would befall them when leaving their homes.
Two FAAN staff members
One of the moving incidents involved two staff members of the Nigerian Federal Airport Authority, FAAN – Chidimma Ajoku and Chima Nnaekpe, in August 2020.
The duo left their respective homes to work, but ended up in the morgue, not thanks to a 20-foot container that fell from a truck at the Ilasamaja bus stop along the Oshodi-Apapa highway and landed in the commercial bus they were on. Their mangled bodies were subsequently removed after the container was lifted by a crane.
One of the victims, the late Ajoku Chidinma, 27, who graduated from Babcock University in Ogun State, had plans to travel abroad to pursue her master’s degree in the near future. Unfortunately, she did not live to realize that dream.
Perhaps the tragic incidents that generally left victims’ families in anguish would have been avoided if containers were attached to trucks as is done in other parts of the world where there is value for human lives.
In September 2020, a container that fell from a truck landed on some vehicles along the Sango Highway in Ogun State. Fortunately, the occupants of the vehicles had managed to escape before the truck landed on their vehicle.
The same month in the same state, a janitor at one of the private hospitals in Atan, Ado-Odo / Ota local government area of Ogun state, was crushed by a truck.
Another bloody story occurred in Ojuelegba, in September 2015, after a container fell off the Ojuelegba bridge and landed in a Sport Utility Vehicle SUV, in which a couple was returning from work.
In 2011, for the second time in a week, four people, three men and one woman, were crushed to death by unlocked containers, which fell from their trucks in different areas of Lagos state.
The first incident that year occurred in Ijesha, along the Oshodi / Apapa highway, where a truck carrying an empty container veered from its lane, apparently due to a failure to break. In the driver’s attempt to control it, the open container fell over and landed on some passengers at the Ijesha bus stop, compressing them beyond description. One of them, a woman, who was standing in the service lane was cut in two, from the chest.
A few days later, another container without a latch fell from a truck, killing a lone passenger in a Jeep with Lagos registration number DW 206 LSD in the Ojota area of Lagos.
Another vivid example of a similar incident was that of February 18, 2009, where a family of five was sent to an unprepared grave in Ijesha, along the Oshodi Apapa Highway, not thanks to the recklessness of a truck driver who resulted in the accident of a 40 foot container falling and landing on the 2000 Mercedes Benz. Another, which occurred in September 2009, at the Volkswagen bus stop along the Badagry highway, again, extinguishing the lives of the unsuspecting occupants of the car.
The same year in Liverpool, Apapa, a truck that apparently had a failure to break caused its container without a latch to fall off the bridge and caught an innocent car pusher in the gutter, killing tomorrow’s leader in his prime.
In Owerri, the capital of the state of Imo, a truck fell from a heavy vehicle and crushed some people suspected of being students of the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo.
Back in Imo State, a commercial bus driver narrowly escaped death on September 17, 2019, when a trailer loaded with containers fell on his vehicle.
Influence of alcohol
Most of the time when these incidents occur, truck drivers blame them for brake failure. But Saturday’s investigation revealed that one of the leading causes of the countless incidents and loss of human life is the use of hard drugs and alcoholic beverages by truckers.
A visit to their parks in Kara along the Lagos / Ibadan highway and the ports of Apapa, Lagos, showed that some of these truckers were indeed operating under the influence of alcohol and hard drugs, as some Indian hemp wrappers and alcoholic beverages. in their trucks
Some of them claimed that the substances were energy boosters that kept them awake while embarking on long journeys.
From the conversation, it was obvious that they were oblivious or did not care about the impact of such ingestion on other road users, or pretended not to care.
Another cause of these incidents was found to be the recklessness of these truckers. Most of the time, they are seen driving recklessly, pushing smaller vehicles off the road. Furthermore, there is confidence that, in the event of an accident, drivers of smaller vehicles are often at a disadvantage.
Sometimes these truck drivers run into people trying to maneuver.
One example was the incident in the popular Aleshinloye market in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state, where a reckless truck driver collided with four women and killed them.
Another unfortunate incident that occurred due to the recklessness of a trucker in February 2018, resulted in the death of a three-year-old baby and three other people, who were passengers on a motorcycle, on the long Kara bridge along the highway. Lagos-Ibadan. .
To address this, the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Corps, FRSC introduced a speed limit device that was made mandatory for all trucks, with a view to controlling their speed limit. Enforcing this has failed.
Again, the use of old, rickety trucks that are not roadworthy contributes significantly to containers falling off trucks.
The research also showed that the average age of trucks transporting containers from seaports is 40 years or older.
Most of the time, these truckers are seen at night struggling to move the contents of the containers. Sometimes, they break down in the middle of the road without any sign to warn other road users, some of whom collide with parked trucks.
Another major cause of truck accidents is bad road. Today, almost all the roads and streets in recess in Lagos and the neighboring state have been taken over by trucks, while the highways are in sorry state.
Every day, at least six containers fall from their trucks while going to or leaving the Ports, due to bad roads
In addition, the roads and main roads in Nigeria, especially in the south-eastern region, are in very poor condition. Most of these roads were built more than 30 years ago when the volume of vehicular traffic was low and alternative means of transport such as the railroad existed. However, the rate of increase in vehicular traffic has not been matched by a proportional rate of road construction.
One of the many problems experienced during such incidents is the resulting deadlock, where motorists go through a harrowing experience. During such an incident, debris that generally causes an obstacle in the flow of traffic, remains in place for hours before being cleaned up. Most of the time, travelers have to walk long distances before boarding buses to their respective destinations.
The failure of the government
Despite this worrying evolution, lockless containers have increased, unfortunately it seems that there is no serious law to verify this. The government seems reluctant to take steps to reduce accidents. In one of the scenes in Ojota, Lagos, some of the sympathizers blamed the government for being insensitive to the plight of the masses, following its alleged silence every time such an incident occurs.