For the Nigerian haulage sector, it is not yet uhuru. While there are many obvious challenges confronting the sector, many haulage operators are not helping the sector with their unsafe actions and this largely because many truck owners are found of taking some unhealthy decisions that are not safe, all in an attempt to cut cost and some of the decisions, many a times end up causing an irredeemable damage to the industry.
The rate of crashes in the industry and the casualties recorded every year is still alarming; unfortunately, findings have shown that some of the crashes are avoidable when the remote cause of such crashes is critically observed. For instance, available statistics on road crashes in the country has shown that about 85% of the mishaps are human triggered and today, an average Nigerian on transit will always pray not to see truck and this is base on the assumption that truck drivers are heartless.
The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi recently said that there are a lot of violations in the haulage industry, which constitute problems and damage. Deducting from the Corps Marshal remark at the 2018 edition of the Haulage & Logistics Magazine Annual Conference & Exhibition (HAULMACE 2018), some of the crashes on the Nigerian roads are avoidable and this is because there are many things haulage operators are not supposed to be doing, but they keep doing it and more often, such things lead to crashes with high level of casualties.
Some of the truck crashes on the Nigerian roads is attributed to break failure. A good example is the notorious Otedola Bridge tanker crash which lead to an inferno that claimed many lives and burnt about 50 vehicles in Lagos in June, 2018. Many reports claimed that the tanker has break failure, hence the driver was making frantic effort to stop the fully loaded vehicles through the median and the rest of the story is unpalatable one. Obviously, that crash would have been avoided if the braking system have been checked and put in good working condition before embarking of the journey.
Many crashes on the Nigerian roads over the years have also been attributed to overloading. A good example of this was a crash that happened in 2017 at Ojota, Lagos on a fateful early morning Saturday, killing many people including those that are returning from vigil. According to Lagos Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), the truck in question was carrying a double 20ft containers fully loaded with plywood. Whereas LASEMA report shows that the load is beyond the capacity of the truck. That particular crash would also have been avoided if the truck has not carried more than its capacity.
No wonder the Corps Marshal, Oyeyemi in his presentation at HAULNMACE 2018 said “there are a lot of violations in the haulage industry which constitute problems and damage. Tankers are supposed to carry maximum of 33,000 litres but many are carrying 45,000 litres. Trailers that are supposed to 600 bags of cement are carrying more. If we are not faithful to basic road and traffic rules, we can’t get the desire result”.
Aside from overloading, unhealthy trucks on the Nigerian road are very common and many a times, the rickety trucks are prone to crashes. Deducting from the Road safety corps findings, Boyeye said “90% of the trailers on the Nigerian roads are over 30 years and most of them are the trailers working at the port”.
Besides the rickety trucks and overloading, truck drivers on the other hand are known for notorious acts on the roads and today, every Nigerian assumes that every truck driver is wicked. Infact, the Corps Marshal identifies the drivers of flatbed trucks as the worst and lawless. He said “flatbed drivers with their vehicles are more lawless and worst. They flaunt traffic law every day and they never repent”.
Speaking further, Oyeyemi said “there is high level of non-adherence to road traffic safety practices. Inadequate driver’s training/certification and re-training, leading to drivers’ errors. There is inadequate provision of tanker/trailers parks across the country.
According to the Corps Marshal, other issues causing crashes on the Nigerian roads that can be avoided include non adherence to safe laden/haulage practices /standards (including vehicle’s) by stakeholders; inspite of practice guidance, non-functional weighbridges to assist in enforcement of axle load compliance, including overload with sundry goods e.g. Tomatoes, firewood).
Others are aging trucks and lack of fleet renewal programmes, heady and non-cooperative attitude of drivers and other stakeholders, non-adherence to standards by operators and by tank constructors, alteration of original design value of truck heads and/or trailer, parking on unauthorized location along the road, failure to install speed limiting device as well as lack of cooperation of private tank farm owners on Safe-To-Load programme.
According to Boboye, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has estimated that Nigeria loses 3% of its GDP to Road Crashes Annually. This translates to billions of naira lost in human and capital resources. It is however unfortunate to hear, according to Boboye that about 38% of road traffic deaths in Africa, with special emphasis on Nigeria involve innocent pedestrians and bystanders. Obvious, this colossal loss is avoidable if everybody-the truck owner, the driver and every other stakeholder in the haulage sector do the needful.
Apart from the already mentioned issues, there are many other violations in the haulage industry. For instance, according to Oyeyemi, trailer tankers are mandatorily to affix three (3) Number Plates, but unfortunately, in many instances drivers and operators swap one tanker head for another, thereby making the vehicle carry double identity in the form of Number Plates and efforts at verifying ownership often leads to double identity making law enforcement and corrective measures difficult.
“Sometimes the vehicles do not bear Number Plates. The owners indulge in improper registration, vehicle data will not being captured on the National Identification portal/data bank. This practice can lead to non traceability of such vehicles when stolen. It also constitute national security risk as they could be used for subversion purposes”, Oyeyemi said.
While it may be correct to assert that truck crashes cannot be completely eliminated, it can be reduced to barest minimum. Therefore, truck owners should endeavour to avoid anything that can make their trucks prone to crashes. A regular maintenance of trucks for instance can eliminate truck crashes. Brake and every other component of every truck should be put in best functioning condition.
Truck owners and drivers together, should avoid the avoidable by obeying road and traffic rules. Operators in the haulage sector should stop violating the rules set for best practices and make safety number one priority.