DWELLING on road accidents in contemporary Nigeria may sound absurd because no day passes without accounts of such havoc on the roads. The incessant accidents on our roads have steeled Nigerians to the extent that reports of road mishaps are deemed common phenomenon.
WHAT is however extraordinary and exasperating is the recklessness, if outright impunity of certain road users despite the recurring danger. Notable among them are tipper, trailer, lorry and oil tanker drivers, as well as other articulated vehicles. The manner in which drivers of vehicles in these categories ply their trade on highways, streets and even rural roads is proof that the widely held notion that many of them ingest doses of narcotic substances may not be unfounded.
Of particular note is the tipper drivers in Onitsha, Anambra State, whose notoriety for impunity on the narrow roads and streets in Onitsha metropolis are legendary. According to reports, the Onitsha tipper drivers quickly rally round their colleagues involved in dastardly accidents caused by them and contribute money to suppress such cases with the connivance of self-sevring law enforcement agents to the detriment of their victims .
FOR instance, late last year, a minister of God, Pastor Gabriel Sunday Ezilo, was nearly killed as his Golf car was smashed by a supposedly drunken and reckless tipper driver. The car was smashed beyond repair along Beverly Hotel at 3.3 Road before Magazine Avenue, GRA, Onitsha. The accident left his leg broken. After, he was admitted in a hospital for months, and he now walks with clutches. The issue of his car is not being mentioned.
WITHIN a space of some months, the rate of such cases is on the rise. An inspector of police serving in Onitsha Central Police Station, while driving her Toyota Corolla nearly lost her life as she tried to avoid a head-on collision with a speeding tipper. Her car skidded off the narrow street and plunged into Nkisi Lake.
AGAIN, within the same period, one woman living at Sunrise Estate 3.3, almost got her car smashed by a tipper that lost control due to a failed break system.
THE incidences cut across the urban towns namely Awka, Nnewi, etc. in Anambra State since this year.
INDEED, bad driving habit is not observed in only tipper drivers. Trailer and oil tanker drivers who are possibly overwhelmed by the size of their vehicles are brazen too . In many circumstances, oil tankers have been known to have lost control due to the often blamed break failure which may actually be the deliberate failure of the driver to check the vehicle properly with the mechanics before embarking on a journey to discharge their heavy loads.
IT’S true that Anambra State has good roads but we all know that there are some bad spots. With such heavy vehicles bulking up the traffic in narrow roads most of the time, some desperate road users usually get impatient driving behind them and often, after lurking behind such lorries for a while, they lose patience and decide to take overtaking risks which could result in auto crashes.
AGE of the lorries and trucks is another source of danger. Most of them are too old to still be on the road. For example, one popular brand of the lorries is the one named ‘911’. Surprisingly, the 911 model being converted to tippers, trailers and tankers have become “moving coffins” as it were since it has taken over 30 years when the vehicle manufacturing companies stopped producing the model. In other words, they have become virtually unserviceable if not rickety. Actually, most of them were purchased as “second hand” otherwise known as ‘Tokumbo’ and imported from various foreign countries where they had been used and discarded or parked to be melted as scraps to forge metals to be used for other manufacturing purposes.
But upon being imported into Nigeria, they are re-engaged in public transport system. Given their outdated grades, the possibility of their spare parts being available is very remote. But with the presence of convert-all auto vehicle repair centres such as the Mgbuka Market where one can get anything done with the efforts of very brilliant welders, the parts are fabricated. The worst is that concerned law enforcement agents like the Federal Road Safety Corps men and ATMA are not doing anything about stopping the use of such outdated autos, rather, they appear to be more interested in raising revenue instead of making safety their major concern.
APART from these, close observation by the law enforcement agencies has revealed that most of these tippers , trailers and tanker drivers merely picked up driver’s licenses as they were allegedly not properly certified by the appropriate authorities who are in collaboration with the custodians of motor driver’s licensing. This is one of the consequences of pervasive corruption and sleaze in documents racketeering.
AGAIN, many of the drivers relish reckless driving because they arm themselves with fetish objects that supposedly make them “fly off” the vehicles in the event of road mishap. They reappear when they perceive that the atmosphere was convenient when in certain cases, the victims in the carnage have been evacuated to the hospital for treatment or kept in the mortuary.
NATIONAL Light believes that reasonable containment of the recklessness of these drivers will include the advocacy of the NGOs through seminars and workshops superintended by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
ABOVE all, a realistic look should be taken on the extant terms of sanction for reckless drivers and those who take intoxicants, stimulants or hallucinating substances before they drive. Equally, there should be close monitoring of the law enforcement operatives with incurable itching palms who connive with the drivers’ unions to suppress sanctions to their members in the name solidarity.