The date was January 29, 2023. At least nine persons lost their lives instantly when an articulated truck conveying a 20ft container fell on a commercial bus at Ojuelegba bridge, Lagos.
According to Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the truck lost control while ascending the bridge. “Upon arrival at the scene, a truck conveying a 20ft container was found to have landed on top of a commercial bus.
“Investigation revealed that the bus was picking up passengers when the truck lost control and fell over the side of the bridge. A total of nine fatalities were recovered, comprising four adult males, three adult females, a girl, and a boy.
“After suspending the container load with the aid of LASEMA’s forklift, an adult woman was extricated alive and taken to the trauma centre,’’ he said.
Then Commissioner of Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, had stated immediately after the Ojuelegba incident that “The accident will be thoroughly investigated so as to prevent a recurrence of such tragic incidents.
“We are working with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to install Vehicle/Truck barriers on the inward and outward sections of the Bridge.” If this investigation was done as promised by the Commissioner, it was never made public.
Before the aforementioned incident, so many others had occurred, and unfortunately, after the incident, so many other similar incidents have been recorded, in similar circumstances.
Looking backwards, in 2020, 27 year-old Chidinma Ajoku and 29 year-old Chima Nnaekpe were killed at Ilasamaja area of Lagos state when a container fell off a truck and crushed them.
And after the January 2023 incident this year, the country has unfortunately been recording casualties involving containers on trucks. And this seems to be endless.
On September 15, 2023, five female adults were killed, while two male and two female adults sustained various degrees of injuries in a fatal accident that occurred in the early hours of the day at Odumodu Junction, Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area along Awka Road, Anambra State.
Stakeholders in the industry have been able to identify the major causes of these incidents as reckless driving, over speeding, unlatched containers, ill-trained drivers, inappropriate or over-used truck beds among others.
But the question begging for answer is- What has government done to check this ugly trend, since the factors leading to these are easily identifiable? For instance, in Lagos, government has repeatedly promised to install truck barriers on the Ojuelegba bridge, but as at today, there are none.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has also said repeatedly that it will stop trucks from plying the roads with unlatched containers, this campaign and enforcement lastd for just a couple of months and fizzled out.
It is high time the FRSC and the various state governments adopt comprehensive measures to check the excesses of these trucks on our roads and save the lives of innocent citizens using the roads.