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As 2013 draws to a close

By Akingbola Omigbodun

This column on 4 December 2013 discussed public safety and security with respect to posted speed limits on our roads and highways.

An accident scene in Lagos.

As one travels out of Lagos starting from Ojota on the Lagos to Ibadan Expressway, there is a stretch of road in Lagos between Magodo and Ojodu Berger in which stretch there have been a number of spectacular motor vehicle accidents in the past two years. The latest multiple motor vehicle accidents on this stretch took place on Saturday, 7 December 2013.

There is a valley situated between a Mobil Oil station at Magodo and a Capital Oil station at Omole with a road bridge at the bottom of the valley.

The motor vehicle accidents that occur in this valley usually start with a loaded articulated goods vehicle or fuel tanker running into vehicles ahead of it. Reports of the multiple accidents of 7 December 2013 indicate that there were substantial time intervals between three sets of major collisions. What can we do to change this valley of death to a valley of hope?

The Lagos State Government, LASG, has introduced a ramp structure for the control of motor vehicle travelling speeds on our roads. The structure is at a recognisable height above the road surface and a motor vehicle approaching the ramp must be brought to a virtual stop by the driver.

The vehicle climbs the ramp, travels across the ramp and climbs down the other side of the ramp. The Federal Ministry of Works, FMW, should post a speed limit of 60km per hour on the stretch of the Lagos to Ibadan Expressway from the Ojota interchange to Ojodu Berger and should install ramps as described just above at intervals to enforce this speed limit.

If there are persons who have doubts about the efficacy of enforced speed limits, I would implore such persons to visit one piece of Nigeria which thrives on safety at the workplace, between the workplace and home and at home.

This piece of Nigeria is the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas, NLNG, company complex on Bonny Island, Rivers State where there is an enforced posted speed limit lower than the 60km per hour mentioned here.

The other significant factors in the reduction of motor vehicle accidents are the articulated motor vehicles and the drivers who control the vehicles.

The major oil marketing companies that have majority foreign shareholders no longer own petrol tankers. However, these companies have a social responsibility in ensuring that fuel tankers delivering petroleum products to their retail outlets operate in a safe manner.

The oil marketing companies, the flour millers, the cement manufacturing companies, the breweries, the bottling companies, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the companies operating the Lagos ports from which containers and other goods traffic originate and the labour unions to which drivers belong should all join together for a sustained road safety campaign.

Vehicles associated with the organisations just listed above should be covered with posters on safety issues. In particular, drivers should be advised to ask themselves if the brakes on their vehicles are in perfect condition before they set out on a journey.

They should be advised on what steps to take if the brakes show telltale signs that their vehicles cannot be brought to a stop within a safe operating distance.

There are also issues related to the life styles of the drivers that should be addressed in the safety campaign.
I note that this is the last Wednesday in 2013 when we are at work.

Next Wednesday, it would be Christmas day and the following one would be the first day of 2014. This column would not be presented on these Wednesdays. Please permit me to extend to all persons who read as well as to all persons who are associated with this column my best wishes for 2014.


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