Last week I ran through some of the non conforming attributes highlighted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mohammed during the parley with stakeholders on strategies to put an end to the tragedies occasioned by haulages operators .The conforming attributes which has become the norm among a handful of these operators besides the one listed earlier includes: non-adherence to the Safe-Load-programme initiative of the Federal Road Safety Corps ; indiscriminate parking of vehicles along highways thereby constituting hazards to other road users; inadequate maintenance of vehicles; use of sub-standard fabricated tankers contrary to specified regulations of the SON; usage of laden tankers to convey additional loads such as agricultural produce thereby tilting vehicle balance and axle load precariously; non-adherence to Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS); and inappropriate registration of trailer/tankers heads that makes ownership identification difficult.

To checkmate these abuse all participants such as  the management of Tank Farms; tanker/trailer operators, enforcement agencies, transport unions and policy drivers from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were charged  to wake up to their responsibilities towards promoting a positive road safety culture. Let me bring you up to speed on the plan of action arising from the meeting which the Secretary  also  includes an Inter-Ministerial Committee that he said  will be set up at the end of the forum to see to the actualization of the recommendations in the Plan of Action including the monthly briefing of government.

They plan of action are; mandatory certification of all haulage vehicles must be carried out twice in twelve calendar months; importation of haulage vehicles exceeding ten years (10) from date of manufacture would be stopped with effect from 01/01/2020;Standard speed limiters should be installed in all haulage vehicles in Nigeria; tankers without safety valves and the required number plates would henceforth be disallowed from loading; the safe to load programme would continue to be enforced by relevant Agencies at all loading points; Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), FRSC and other relevant Agencies should immediately harmonize operating safety requirements at all Tank Farms; periodic checks of haulage vehicles should be carried out at relevant loading points; payment of National Transportation Allowance (NTA) and bridging claims to tanker operators would henceforth be contingent on compliance to minimum safety standards; Single operators of haulage vehicles MUST be duly registered with National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and should comply with RTSSS provisions

The plan also includes the establishment of appropriate command and control centers by the FRSC  to monitor and ensure safety on the highways; continuous public enlightenment by FRSC and other relevant stakeholders to be conducted at all loading points of haulage vehicles and their Rest Areas; Federal Highways (Control of Dimensions, Weights and AxleLoad of Heavy Duty Goods Transport Vehicles) regulations(2018) will be enforced; Government will work closely with the Bank of Industry and other financial institutions towards the establishment of a Fleet Acquisition Renewal Scheme for haulage operators; Haulage vehicles conveying hazardous materials must be clearly labeled in conformity with the Highway Code. The Forum endorsed the convocation of bi-annual meetings in order to sustain Government engagement with stakeholders to exchange ideas and share information for on the sustenance of safer road management in the country.

As I reflect on   the level of madness displayed by haulage drivers which prompted the summit and even other drivers wholes lives are also at risk even though in most of these road traffic crashes, they seem to get away with little dangers. I equally marveled at the other operators such as truck owners, tank farm owners or operators at the other designated loading points and my thoughts ran riot on one of the issues raised by a stakeholder in reaction to the comments made by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation, Lagos State in the person of Dr Taiwo Olufemi Salaam. The Permanent Secretary opened a can of warms responsible for these tragedies; they range from what he called gross compromise and corruption by different players all in the name of pecuniary gains at the expense of the safety of lives of road users.

Like I observed, all drivers should remember that  no matter their madness ,they all face  similar risks, but one of  the factors that contributes most to crashes and deaths  which is also paramount among these operators appears to be arrogance, disdain for rules and  inexperience. I am not just talking about newly   licensed drivers, but even drivers well into their twenties or even older. It is therefore strange when in the name of survival; the driver who is engaged is neither neither licensed not experienced but a motor boy who overnight becomes a driver. Other risk factors particularly elevated among haulage drivers include:, distraction while driving, such as use of phones and texting while driving, excessive speed, tail -gazing , driving under the influence which I mentioned last week.  Drinking and driving is very high among haulage drivers although the statistics to back up my claim is not available. Often, several of these risk factors are present: In particular, drivers who text while driving are more likely to have other risky driving behaviors as well, compared to those who don’t text while driving. These additional risk factors include drinking and driving and not using a seatbelt in addition to excessive speeding which was also highlighted during the one day parley as one of the causative factors..