The rate at which articulated trucks dominate Nigerian highways, especially at night, has hit an appalling proportion. With the absence of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) officers, Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) and other traffic regulatory agencies at night, some drivers operate on the roads with arrant recklessness, incautious of the dangers that they constitute to other road users. Apart from traffic gridlock, accidents and the accompanying loss of lives and goods are major menaces posed by the vehicles. Daily Trust on Sunday examines the situations in some states.
The menace of articulated vehicles on Nigerian roads has become a recurrent decimal so much that other motorists and road users dread using the roads due to attendant dangers. Recklessness among articulated truck drivers has been blamed for some accidents which has led to several deaths, injuries and loss of goods.
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A report said that about 441 articulated vehicles were among 1,324 vehicles involved in road accidents last year.
Some drivers who spoke with our correspondents confirmed that a lot of recklessness takes place at night when many road users had gone to bed.
In Plateau State, articulated trucks dominate major highways at nights. In a chat with our correspondents, drivers cited reasons for their preference to use the road during the period.
Shagari Nuhu, a truck driver in Jos, the state capital, said some drivers preferred to move at nights because vehicle engines enjoy cold temperature during the time.
He added that it was easy to manage bad tyres at night, compared to afternoon when roads are heated by the high temperatures of the sun.
Nuhu also said that other drivers prefer driving at night “to avoid the exploitation of law enforcement agents, while others who do not have vehicle particulars move at night to avoid fines and possible arrest.”
Another driver, Aminu Musa, said: “Drivers prefer to operate at night because smaller vehicles are off the roads during the period. Also, traffic regulatory officials have closed for the day during the time. This gives us the opportunity to speed and sometimes drive recklessly.”
The situation is the same in Niger State, but has some negative implications according to tales by a motorist who spoke with our correspondent.
Aliyu Abdulmalik, who resides in Agaie, said presence of articulated trucks on roads at nights constitute a lot of menace such as reckless driving which, he said, had resulted in a series of accidents due to absence of Federal Road Safety Corps.
According to him, the accidents are common on the Bida-Agaie-Lambata Road which is a major route plied by drivers of the vehicles.
“There is hardly a free flow of traffic on Agaie-Bida-Lamabata Road. In fact, these heavy duty drivers don’t consider small vehicles as anything. Even among themselves, they are not patient, despite the deplorable condition of the road. From time to time, you see them falling down, causing serious hold-ups and denying other road users free movement,” he said.
“It is not easy stop them even when they commit an offence. Road safety officials are even helpless in enforcing road traffic regulations when it comes to dealing with truck drivers,” he added.
Another road user, Almamun Mahmud Mallam, said: “The presence of road traffic regulatory agencies won’t make any difference as long as bribery is condoned. Recklessness on Nigerian roads is rampant. Inasmuch as you can get away with anything in this country, recklessness among truck drivers will also increase.”
Isaac Omidiji, a resident of Bida Town which is one of the major packing spots for truck drivers and a route connecting the North to the South, also said recklessness among truck drivers had worsened due to absence of road traffic regulatory agencies on the roads.
“They park indiscriminately more than ever, drive on wrong lanes and park in the middle of the road just to greet their colleagues. They also overtake dangerously despite the bad condition of the road. They do all these just because the offences are not questioned. Other road users are always at their mercy as their motorcycles or vehicles are damaged due to the shenanigans of the truck drivers.”
Articulated truck excesses on Nigerian roads at night has been a subject of worry and discussion among various road users in Kano State.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that along Zaria and Hadejia roads and other places, many trucks line up during the day time waiting for night to set in to takeoff.
In a chat with our correspondent, some road users in the state narrated their bitter experiences with articulated trucks at night.
Malam JIbo Waheed, a commercial driver who plies Kano – Lagos route, said that most accidents that involve trucks and smaller vehicles are usually caused by the trucks.
“At night, they assume the role of kings of the road. They do whatever they like without remorse, concern, care or mercy for the smaller vehicles. There was a time I escaped death narrowly along Lokoja Road when a truck driver wanted to overtake me on a very sharp bend. He forced me to derail into the bush. It was a miracle that we survived that accident. Drivers behave as if trucks own the roads in the night,” Waheed said.
Another commercial driver who preferred anonymity said that many road users complained that extra headlights on articulated vehicles usually affect the views of other drivers, thereby causing serious accidents.
The road users called on relevant authorities, especially Federal Roads Safety Commission (FRSC) to deploy officials to roads at night to checkmate the excesses of truck drivers.
The Sector Commandant of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Kano, Mato Zubairu, said that in order to reduce truck excesses on the roads, the commission ran a-24 hours rescue operation, while the patrol returned to base by 6:00pm. He explained that on a daily basis, drivers of trucks with extra lights got arrested and fined after removing the additional lights.
Zubairu also revealed that the FRSC was working with IPMAN, PENGASSAN, NARTO and other relevant bodies to address the menace of truck drivers at night. He added that the partnership had been yielding positive results as the rate of truck-related accidents had reduced.
In Ogun State, articulate trucks also constitute a lot of menace to road users.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that articulated vehicles-related road crashes, especially along Lagos – Ibadan expressway is alarming.
According to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), 441 trucks and articulated vehicles were among the 1,324 vehicles involved in road traffic crashes in Ogun State between January and August, 2021.
The sector commander, Ahmed Umar , said the FRSC’s projection was to drastically reduce road crashes this year.
“Crashes increased in 2021, compared to 2020 with 56.4 per cent of the total crashes happening on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“Our projection for 2022 is to drastically reduce accidents on our roads, particularly in Ogun State. We will work assiduously to ensure smooth mobility and crash-free mobility,” he said.
Umar, however, appealed to drivers of articulated vehicles to obey the stipulated 60km per hour speed limit by installing speed limit devices.
“We shall sustain our enforcement against driving under influence of drugs and alcohol on all categories of vehicles in collaboration with the Nigeria Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
“We also advise all drivers to ensure they possess the appropriate class of drivers licence as the command is committed to sustaining `Operation Show Your Drivers Licence’ in line with directives from the FRSC Headquarters,’’ he said.
In Anambra, indiscriminate parking by truck drivers account for the deteriorating states of roads in the state.
In Onitsha, our correspondent gathered, some trucks used to convey goods for importers from Lagos and other parts of the country constitute serious dangers to other road users.
Owing to the outcry against drivers, the administration of former governor of the state, Willie Obiano, banned movement of truck on the roads in the day time. But the ban was not enforced by the relevant agencies, including the police and the FRSC. Onitsha, being the gateway to most states in the Eastern zone, is the worst hit.
A truck driver, Michael James, told Daily Trust on Sunday that drivers were always on the road, both morning and night, denying themselves sleep in some instances, in order to deliver their goods on schedule.
While blaming car drivers for most accidents involving trucks, he said they parked on the road because governments hardly considered provision of trailer parks.
“Immediately they see a truck, they want to give way. Others are always in a hurry to overtake trucks because they think we are delaying them due to the slow movement of the truck. They should exercise patience on the road,” he said.
One of the importers in Onitsha, Mr Uche Okeke, said that most of the articulated truck drivers were always on drugs, hence their misbehaviours on the roads.
He called on the other road users to always be careful on the highways.
In Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), several lives have been lost to road accidents caused by articulated trucks on the ever busy Abuja-Lokoja Highway according to findings by Daily Trust on Sunday.
Also, articulated trucks that also ply the Zuba-Kubwa Expressway, Giri -Airport Road as well as Nyanya -Mararaba Road to the capital city of Abuja, especially at night, has continued to pose a serious threat to the lives of not only motorists but also pedestrians.
Our correspondent gathered that some of the trucks, which neither have rear back lights, sharp break nor complete head lights. Some of them emit thick smoke in motion, while others sometimes break down in the middle of the highway and oncoming vehicles ram into them from behind.
Last month, a cyclist lost his life after losing control and rammed into an articulated truck that broke down in the middle of the road at Kwaita, along Abuja-Lokoja Highway.
Some truck drivers who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday, blamed owners of such trucks for lack of proper maintenance due to economic hardship in the country.
Suleiman Adamu, a truck driver at Gada-Biyu, along Abuja-Lokoja Highway, said he preferred to drive at night to avoid arrest by FRSC or VIO because his truck lacks road worthiness.
“Whenever I am approaching Abuja, I would stop over at either Gada-Biyu or Lambata in Kwali until it is night before I continue with my journey,” he said.
Another driver, Samuel Ebuka, who has been travelling from Anambra to Abuja for over six years, said he always conveyed goods from Onitsha to Dei-Dei building materials market in Abuja.
“But I always ensure that I carry the required maximum goods that my truck will carry to avoid any mechanical problem that may result in breaking down on the highway,” he said.
The FCT Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr Samuel Ochi, said the FRSC had met with truck drivers union on three occasions to address the issues of articulated trucks that cause obstruction to other road users, especially those that always break down in the middle of the highway.
Ochi added that the commission had also provided towing trucks at designated places along Abuja-Lokoja Highway, where any truck that breaks down are towed immediately from the highway to avoid accident.
He said the major challenge facing the commission was lack prompt information from the members of the public that could enable his men to respond quickly to truck break down incidents on the highway.
“In any case, the moment we receive information on any broken down articulated vehicle on the road, we don’t waste time in alerting our men to the scene to remove such truck to avoid accident,” he said.
Also on movement of articulated vehicle into the Abuja city during working hours, the FRSC commander said: “The policy of restricting articulated vehicles from the city of Abuja during day time has been in place as we have always ensured that any truck that conveys goods into the city during the day is impounded by our men,” he said.
In Borno State, there is no serious articulated truck scenario in Borno State due to the insecurity situation in the state as well as the introduction of Borno State Traffic Management Agency (BOTMA) and other traffic regulatory agencies.
Daily Trust on Sunday, however, gathered that trucks and trailers which also cause gridlock sometimes are found at the entry point of Maiduguri-Damaturu Road where military checkpoints are mounted and with hundreds of them queuing up early in the morning waiting for the daily openings of the road as results of security concerns.
We also gathered that the recent reopening of the Maiduguri-Gamboru Ngala Road occasioned by improved security along the road has already started attracting hundreds of trucks and trailers into Maiduguri from the neighboring states to the border.
Checks by our correspondent revealed that the BOTMA officials had restored some level of discipline in major roads and reduced illegal parking of vehicles of all categories, including commercial tricycles to minimize incidents of reckless driving by taxis and trucks drivers as well as traffic gridlocks within Maiduguri, the state capital, and its environs.
Also, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), trucks and trailers drivers have deployed strategies to avoid traffic gridlocks along Maiduguri roads.
State Chairman of NURTW Trailers Branch, Bako Modu said: “Our drivers park at Jimtilo, the main entrance to Maiduguri until between 7-8pm before they enter the town, except those who carry perishable items.”
“We are working with security operatives, especially those responsible for the safety and control of road traffic like the police, FRSC officers, VIOs to ensure that our drivers observe all traffic regulations to avoid traffic gridlocks. Just recently, we held a stakeholders meeting in the office of the Borno State Commissioner of Police to resolve on issues of overloading and height of loads on our trailers and other vehicles with a view maintaining discipline on our roads,” Modu said.
He added that government had provided a trailer park which is now under construction. According to him, drivers created the idea to wait at the outskirts until the number vehicles plying the road has reduced.
“We did not impose the parking at the outskirts on them. It was drivers that deemed it necessary and started parking at some distance away along the highway. This helps a lot to reduce gridlock.”
On the reopening of Maiduguri-Gamboru Ngala Road, Modu said that the union had already mapped out strategies for drivers to ensure a free-flow of traffic because of trucks and trailers that ply the road.
Our correspondent also gathered that Boko Haram insurgency menace and closure of borders with the neighboring countries of the Republic of Niger, Chad and Cameroon as well as roads that link border towns has significantly reduced the number of trucks coming into the state.
From Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Ibrahim Musa Giginyu (Kano), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Abubakar Sadiq Isah & Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri)