The regulators should be up to their responsibility

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu may have ordered the prosecution of the driver and owner of the truck involved in the recent Ojuelegba bridge accident which claimed nine lives. But that does not answer the question of why there seems to be no solution to this recurring tragedy.The statement that the “state government has zero tolerance for large containers that fall off trucks and injure or kill citizens, who are going about their lawful businesses,” also sounds hollow. Although the state Information Commissioner, Gbenga Omotosho, has reeled out the names of people who had been convicted for such offences in the past, directive to the ministry of transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to find solution to the problem is somehow belated.   

Instructively, barely 48 hours after the Ojuelegba tragedy, another accident occurred in Ikotun, a densely populated community within the state. Two people were killed, and four others injured when the container truck fell on tricycles. The injured are two pregnant women and two children. The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) spokesperson, Adebayo Taofiq, said preliminary investigation revealed that the container truck suffered a brake failure before losing control of the vehicle. Unfortunately, there have been many such accidents in recent years with dozens of lives lost.   

While we commiserate with the relatives and loved ones of the victims of these serial tragedies, we once again renew our earlier call on the need to save Nigeria from the accidents usually caused by reckless drivers of container-laden vehicles that daily ply our roads. We also reiterate our earlier suggestion that a heavy-iron bar be mounted across the Ojuelegba bridge to prevent trailers and other heavy-duty trucks from plying the bridge as it is done to the Ikeja bridge.    

Meanwhile, the circumstances of these accidents are all too familiar: carelessness in latching the containers to vehicles, irresponsible driving, and pathetic regulation. We have stated repeatedly in this space that the authorities must do something about the wanton loss of innocent lives being caused by these avoidable accidents. The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) should be involved in finding a lasting solution to this problem as the lead agency on road safety administration and management in the country. We also urge the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) across the country to be actively engaged. It is indeed ironic that while many of the agencies that man our roads harass innocent motorists and road users, they turn a blind eye to vehicles that constitute nuisance on the highways and threaten the lives of road users.   

As we have argued repeatedly, what is happening on most of our highways across the country is anathema to decency in road usage while this armada of articulated vehicles will be considered primitive in more civilised societies. The tragedy at Ojuelegba should therefore be another wake-up call for the relevant authorities and critical stakeholders. Human lives are precious, and we should not be wasting them the way we do in Nigeria.   

Besides being high on alcohol or other drugs, many of these truck drivers have scant regards for road regulations as they always act as though above the law. Beyond putting on trial drivers who cause the accidents, putting preventive measures in place remains a better option for dealing with the nuisance they constitute, and the innocent lives being wasted. And to the extent that many of these accidents can also be traced to the antics of largely compromised regulators, there is an urgent need for authorities at all levels to be more alive to their responsibilities.    

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