By Stephen Ubanna
For years, there had been several cases of improper latched Containers on trucks falling off on major roads in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center killing people . The number of people that were said to have been killed on Container accidents alone, between 2015 and now, according to an official of the Lagos state Emergency Management, Agency, LASEMA, are too numerous to count.
It is not surprising why the Lagos state government and the Federal Road Service Commission, FRSC, in the recent time were said to have made several attempts to control the reckless truck drivers on the major road networks in the state, particular, the Oshodi – Apapa Express ways to save lives.
Moreso, the federal ministry of works, under the close watch of Raji Babatunde Fashola, a two –time governornor of Lagos state and now minister of Works, was said to have also been on the neck of the contractors handling the Oshodi-Apapa road reconstruction project to complete it as agreed to facilitate the movement of truck laden Containers on the Lagos roads in order to save lives.
Instances abound of improper latched Containers on trucks falling off and smashing vehicles thus, killing the occupants. Take for instance in late 2015, a ‘’40’’ Container fell off the truck at the busy Ojuelegba bridge on two vehicles plying the road below. The floor of the rickety truck on which the Container rested also gave way and followed suit. The three occupants of the black Jeep that the improper latched Container fell on were said to have been killed as the jeep was crushed beyond repair.
There was also a case of the fallen off of a ‘’40’’ Container along the Ikorodu- Shagamu Expressway , close the to the Central Business Area causing serious traffic on the road. The truck which was said to be ascending a hill on its way to Lagos was said to have lost control and fell on its side and several other such cases.
Indeed, all these Container accidents had been happening over the years on the major road networks in Lagos, particular, without the intervention of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria ,CIoTA, which responsibility it is to control the movement of truck drivers operating within the port environment in Lagos and the south east.
Note that within the Lagos axis trucks load Containers at Apapa, Tincan Island ports, Port Multi-services terminal limited,PTML, Kirikikiri Lighter Terminal,KLT, phases I and II including Lilipond, bonded terminal, Ijora.
While in south east, Containers are loaded mostly in Port Harcourt Area II Command, Onne and Rivers port, both in Rivers state, described as the busiest ports in the south east. Note that there are less Container cargoes activities in the ports of Calabar , Cross –river state, and Delta port, Warri and thus, less cases of Container accidents in the two states.
The recent falling of an improper latched’’20’’ Container in a truck on a Passenger bus at the Illasamaja under bridge bus stop in Lagos, killing two passengers, who were said to be employees of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, may have drawn the attention of Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA , and the CIoTA President, described as a workaholic to intervene to save the situation from getting worse.
He was said to have taken up the matter immediately as the President of the Institute, as he quickly contacted one Mrs . Ajoku , whose daughter was killed in the Container accident and Mr. Nnaekpe, whose son was also killed in the accident. He had extended the ssociation’s Condolence messages to them.
Jamoh, the CIoTA , President, may have taken advantage of the Illasamaja Container accident that fell on a passenger bus killing two passengers ‘’to restate the Institute’s Commitment to the safety of all modes of transportation in Nigeria, especially those operated with the port environment’’.
He was said to have promised Nigerians through the parents of the deceased in separate telephone Conversations that’’the Association would intensify its advisory role on transportation matters to rid the sector of unsafe practices and ensure smooth and safe movement’’ of goods and services on Nigerian roads.
Jamoh, who could not hide his feelings was said to have assured the aggrieved parents of the deceased that CIoTA ‘’will not only be lending a voice to this matter as championed by them ‘’but will play its leadership role of advocating for transportation safety on the country roads .
Recall that Mrs. Ajoku had petitioned the Lagos state government to investigate the accident in order to bring the culprit truck driver latched with the ‘’20’’’ Container that fell on the passenger bus that killed her 27 year –old daughter to book. The LASEMA oficials who were at the scene of the incident had observed that it could have been avoided both for the recklessness of the driver. This is where the truck driver have a case to answer.
Jamoh, the CIoTA President, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said that’’’’ the Institute had started engaging industry stakeholder to find a lasting solution to the issue of Container accidents, particularly with regard to proper latching of Containers on articulated vehicles’’. He had described Container accidents on Nigerian roads as one of the major challenge that has faced transportation sector within the port environment in the recent times and within must be addressed squarely’’.
He was said to have also disclosed that the Association have ‘’reached out to the key actors in Lagos state government with a view to getting their Commitments as the Association strive ‘’to work towards a broad- based programme that will involve all critical stakeholders to acquaint them on the importance of safety and properly latching of Containers and cargo to trucks before they leave the port environment’’ to forestall accidenets.
Going by the steps that had been taken by CIOTA , Maritime analysts believe that it may no longer be business as usual for the reckless truck drivers on the Nigerian roads. Philip Kyanet, an Assistant Director, and NIMASA Head of Corporate Communications disclosed that the Institute had already devised measures in ‘’addressing the competence and mental status of the truck drivers’’. This is a bad news for the truck drivers as many of them may be thrown into the unemployment market t as they may no longer be allowed to handled truck- latched Containers on Nigeria roads as a way of minimising Container accidents and loss of lives.
Appealing to the industry stakeholders to appreciate the efforts of CIoTA, to control the falling of improper lathed Containers on trucks on Nigeria roads, Jamoh, the CIoTA President had declared that ’’ it is the only way to guarantee the issue of safety in the nation’s transport sector , stressing that the sector ’’ would no longer take the back Seat’’. Under his leadership.
Recall that the bold steps currently being taken by Jamoh, as the President of CIOTA, to checkmate the activities of truck drivers on Nigeria roads was also taken in his capacity as the Director General of NIMASA to stop boat mishaps in Nigerian Inland water ways. He was said to have adopted tougher measures against untrained and Uncertified Boat Skippers as the agency advocates unified enforcement guidelines and regulations across the littoral states
. He had said that the ‘’harmonisation of standards and procedures for boat passengers safety between NIMASA and the Lagos state government would go a long way in minimising unsafe practices by operators of non-conventional vessels, which are not subject to international standards, but rely mainly on national regulations’’. The NIMASA Director General had said that the Federal ministry of Transportation under the close watch of Rotimi Amaechi was already in the process of building a unified enforcement guidelines for enforcement in the country’s waters.
With the new safety procedures that was said to have been put in place to control boat mishaps in Nigeria waters, Jamoh , the NIMASA, boss was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen ‘’that before any boat could be certified to sail by the agency enforcement officers,’’ there must be availability of adequate lifejackets and the boat must be in good condition’’.
This is in addition to ensuring that the time of the use of any passenger boat , it must be verified to match with the time by the government for starting operations and closing for the day avoid putting the lives of the boat passengers in danger as occurred recently in Goronyo local government area of Sokoto state. Zakari Shinaka, Chairman of the local government said that there were about 30 Passengers on board the boat when the mishap occurred.
Muhammad Sadiq, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, and the Sokoto state Police Command Spokesperson said many of the Passengers were rescued but three persons were found dead. He said another six dead Passengers from the boat mishap were recovered on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
A security source disclosed that both for the 50 divers engaged by the Goronyo local, who succeeded in rescuing some of the Passengers alive, the death toll from the boat mishap would have been more. Shinaka, the Chairman of the Goronyo local government had attributed the boat mishap to overloading by the operator. This may have read the riot act to the boat operators in the state to stop overloading their boats to avoid endangering the lives of passengers. The advice may not be limited to the boat operators in the Caliphate state but also to Lagos boat operators and other littoral states across the country.