WITH JOKE ADENIYI-JACKSON
The reason long articulated vehicles are referred to as ‘masters of the road,’ dawned on me about three years ago during a trip to Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, from Ilorin.
Apart from the fact that there were over 300 big trucks that lined the road from Ogbomoso to Oyo town, behind the wheels of the vehicles that towered above other smaller cars were dare-devil drivers. For them, the right of road is inconsequential what mattered was size, which is used to intimidate other road users. Dangerous overtaking, flouting of simple traffic rules by ‘pilots’ of the ‘road masters’ took centre stage. The drivers were not even deterred by the sight of two trailers that fell by the roadside probably as a consequence of over speeding. I had my heart in my mouth while the journey on that long stretch of road lasted; never seen anything like it before that is such an endless caravan of trailers and trucks, hauling different goods and petroleum products. The two and half hour- drive journey to my destination was stretched for about three hours, no thanks to the hordes of metallic giants on the road that made us travel at snail pace. I could decipher the discomfort of passengers in smaller cars particularly those trapped between the long vehicles, whose faces were etched with signs of pain and anguish.
A similar tale was relayed by a relative who travelled to Ibadan from Abuja enroute Akure at thay same period.
That these trailers and trucks alike constitute menace on the road is an understatement. Most Nigerian roads are in bad shape today as a result of the activities of these heavy duty vehicles as they do not have the capacity to withstand weights of these trucks and trailers that frequently ply on them. Aside this, there is increasing road accidents on our roads involving long articulated vehicles due to recklessness of their drivers leading to loss of several lives.
Still fresh in our minds is the accident involving a fuel laden truck on the Otedola bridge in Lagos, which claimed several lives and destroyed scores of vehicles, penultimate week.
Statistics have shown a huge percentage of road accidents are directly or indirectly linked to tankers, trailers and trucks.
Even within the cities they constitute traffic nuisance; it is a common sight to see broken down trailers in the middle of the road or on the kerbs thus causing untold hardship for road users. In Ilorin the Kwara state capital indiscriminate parking of trucks on road shoulders is a common sight particularly along Asa-Dam road and Coca-Cola road, leading to traffic snarl in the affected area and other attendant problems.
Understandably, the preponderance of big trucks on Nigerian roads became a welcome alternative for haulage when the rail transport system went into comatose over twenty years ago.
Therefore one must commend the Kwara State House of Assembly for its concern over the issue. The lawmakers had advised the state government to expedite action on the completion of its ongoing Trailer Park at Oko Olowo to permanently address indiscriminate parking of trucks within Ilorin metropolis.
As noted by the legislature the Trailer Park will not only restore sanity on roads in the metropolis, but improve the revenue potentials of the state.
There is no doubt that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state will receive a boost if the planned trailer park becomes functional. However, towards achieving this end, the state government must ensure that to the place is standard for the tankers drivers, so that they can get value for their money. Aside building the park in Okolowo, the Kwara government can also identify other strategic places within the state for the trailer park through Public Private Partnership ( PPP ) arrangement.
On their parts, industries in the state must create parking space for their trucks within their premises or elsewhere to prevent haphazard parking by the roadside.
Nevertheless as temporary measure, the state Road Traffic Management Agency must address illegal parking of lorries on roads to ease vehicular movement in roads within the state capital as well as prevent dangers associated to the unwholesome practice.
Also laudable is the proposed Truck Transit Parks (TTPs) by the Federal Government. If it sees the light of day, it will drastically reduce carnage on our roads.