“Save as may be prescribed by the Commissioner by Regulation, no trailer other than petrol tankers and long vehicles used in conveying passengers, shall enter into or travel within the metropolis of Lagos between the hours of 6.00am – 9.00pm.” This is what section 2(1) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law (LSRTL)states, yet heavy duty –container conveying vehicles ply Lagos roads within these hours daily.
#Ojuelegba began trending on Nigeria’s Twittersphere on the evening of Wednesday, 2nd of September, and it wasn’t for Wizkid’s famous hit song. No. Something terrible happened; people had been crushed to death in their vehicles by a container, which fell off the Ojuelegba Bridge at about 4:30pm that day. Pictures from the scene which circulated on social media were heart-breaking. Nigerians are angry and rightly so. Where were the Federal Road Safety officials? Why isn’t section 2(1) of the LSRTL being implemented?
This is clearly not an issue of the absence of laws, but the implementation of existing laws. In general, Nigerian authorities are lackadaisical in their jobs, and are only awakened when things go wrong. Barely three weeks ago, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) ‘unveiled plans’ to effectively implement existing road laws, following the death of about 14 Nigerian students in June, after a container fell on their vehicle. How long before effective implementation begins? The whereabouts of Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) is also being questioned. The jinxed truck is said to have been faulty, yet it considered itself road worthy. “That particular trailer was not in good shape at all and it developed fault right from Barracks Bus Stop, but refused to stop,” a resident told a news media. The job of these officials is not to dress in impeccable white uniforms and harass luxury car users as they are mostly known for.
And though it isn’t clear whether or not there’s a law prohibiting heavy duty vehicles from plying the Ojuelegba bridge (the FRSC declined to comment on this), some Lagosians have hinted this on social media.
If this is the case, why didn’t anyone -the Lagos state government – FRSC – do anything about it? It all boils down to negligence; negligence on the part of specific authorities to effectively implement existing laws. There is absolutely no use passing laws if they will not be enforced. Residents of Ojuelegba say they have witnessed about four trailer accident in the area this year. It is likely those didn’t make the news because they were not fatal. Must Nigerians die for authorities to act; shouldn’t the government be proactive?
While it is easy to lay all blame on the government, companies that operate with heavy duty trucks are as liable as the government, and are to be held accountable for these unfortunate incidents. These companies, more than the public, ought to be aware of laws governing public and road safety; why then do their drivers run errands at proscribed times? Also company drivers should be educated on road safety and traffic laws. There are too many unqualified and unlicensed drivers with little or no knowledge of road safety rules in Nigeria. This has been reiterated time and again, yet it seems to fall always on deaf ears. Apparently these companies care more for their businesses, and less for human lives.
Authorities should realise that their jobs cannot be done independent from the other. Company owners, the FRSC, VIO and the Lagos State Government (in this case) need to work together to ensure that citizens are not endangered, whether in their homes or on the road, especially on the road.(Ventures Africa)