What do you call a trailer hauling a detached iron container on some of Nigeria's narrow roads? Call it what you want, l have dubbed it a road killer. Indeed, a mass murderer.
Here is my account of what l witnessed in Nigeria on August 13, 2008 at about 2pm.
I had just left the Murital Muhammed International Airport 2 (also known as MM2 Airport) in Ikeja, Lagos. After driving for about 5 minutes, l noticed that traffic lanes were being diverted by a group of army and a crowd of people congregated and eyeing a derailed trailer. People practically encircled the derailed trailer. The climate was very hot and muggy but the unbearable weather did not deter the people from the gruesome accident.
Apparently the detached container on a flat bed trailer had tipped off whilst making a left turn. The minute my eyes caught the sight if the accident, my first thought was only God knows the numbers of people such as pedestrians, vendors, hawkers, beggars, peddlers, traders, etc trapped under the overturned container. As you know, every spot is a bus stop in Nigeria with people waiting for mass transit bus and other commercial activities taking place. I don't know the number of people killed by the hauler. But l did see, vividly, a female head projected beneath the overturned container whilst the rest of her body had been trapped underneath the container. Ibifuro, my friend, who was in the car with me commented that the female body trapped underneath the container appeared to be running away from the falling container. Olawale, my driver, claimed that the woman was properly waiting for a public transit. Ha, I am still grieved by the sight of the woman.
I am overcome with emotions every time the scene of the accident image comes to my head. God help us in Nigeria.
My poignant question to the transportation authorities is why do you allow flat bed trailers to haul detached containers? Or why are you turning blind eyes to societal killers? Be mindful that some of the victims may be your relatives. It seems to me that it is the normal practice, in Nigeria, to haul detached containers on flat bed trailers. I saw many other trailers hauling detached containers in Nigeria. So l made a decision to take pictures. Obviously, these hauliers (truck drivers) do not know what it means to apply "safety first" on the road.
A flat bed trailer hauling a detached iron container
When do Nigeria going to value humanity? Being a developing country is not a reason to discount mankind. It pains me that with all the brains we have in Nigeria, many essentials in life are neglected. Is it a dangerous act to wait at a bus-stop for a public transportation?
Is it also dangerous to walk on the road at 2pm? Do people have to be home-based 24/7 to stay alive in Nigeria? Nigeria may have a low gross national product as quoted and calculated by the World Bank and other national agencies around the world. But let it be known that by all and every calculations in the universe, Nigeria has intellectuals, academics and progressive minded citizens. Sadly the bad apples have negated the good and prolific ones.
Alas, my fellow Nigerians, the accident of August 13, 2008 could have been avoided.
While l was in college many years ago, l drove a truck to finance my college education.
Hence, l have some knowledge on truck driving safety. The transportation authority should implement, among others, the following safety measures:
1) Containers on flat bed trailer must be undetached. Container must be clung to the flat bed using chains that are securely fastened to the body of the truck.
2) Trucks must be prohibited from some areas because haulage in a densely populated area is hazardous. Where haulage is inevitable for goods delivery, then days such as Sundays may be assigned for haulage. Traffics are less congested on Sundays.
3) Haulage weight must be regulated and strictly enforced.
4) Inspection of both the physical and mechanical body of the haulage itself must be enforced. Operating a truck without a brake is just as hazardous as hauling a detached iron container on a flat bed trailer.
5) Hauliers must be subjected to special driving education. Training for the hauler must entails, in addition to truck driving, psychological screening and behavioral evaluation.
6) Offenders of any of these measures and/or any existing transportation laws must be punished to the fullest length of the law.
I whole-heartedly plead with the transportation authority in Nigeria to consider the above stated measures. Furthermore, if these measures are already in place, then they need to be retooled and mightily enforced for the sole betterment of every citizen of Nigeria. We hold posterity a better and conducive Nigeria.
Let's get the road killer off the road now. Nigeria has a bright future. We must save lives.