By Theodore Opara
Worried by the rate of road traffic accidents on the nation’s highways, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, has asked independent petroleum marketers to upgrade their safety standards in line with global best practice in conveying petroleum products.
He said that safety standard must not be compromised on the altar of profit making. Oyeyemi stated this while making a presentation at the Transport Service Providers’ Training Workshop held at the head office of Oando Nigeria Plc, Apapa, Lagos.
The Corps Marshal opined that Nigeria had reached a stage where all stakeholders must take issues of road safety very seriously by observing the safety standards set to guarantee safety of lives and property. He noted with dissatisfaction that most of the crashes involving tankers/trailers in the country were avoidable as the vehicles were old, mechanically dysfunctional, while the drivers were poorly trained with some having poor eye sight and attitudes that see road crashes from fetish beliefs. Oyeyemi, therefore, called on stakeholders to come together to demonstrate commitment to issues of road safety by adopting scientific safety measures in their operations.
He said: “The number of tanker/trailer crashes as well as casualties that were recorded this year are unprecedented in the history of this country.
“In June 2015, we recorded 16 crashes involving tankers/trailers, while that of Onitsha alone claimed 49 lives. The other crashes that occurred in Lagos and other parts of the country, not only claimed precious lives, but destroyed houses and vehicles in the inferno that threw the entire nation into state of mourning,” he added.
Giving an overview of the crash situation globally, Oyeyemi disclosed that 1.3 million people die annually from road crashes, while 50 million suffer various degree of injuries with Nigeria accounting for 10, 380 of the crashes in 2014.
“5,596 people died last year in the country from road crashes, while 32,089 suffered injuries and 16, 779 vehicles were involved,” he further stated.
Expressing the concern of the FRSC with the social and economic losses from the crashes, most of which, he said could have been avoided, with right attitudes and commitment to issues of road safety, the Corps Marshal commended the Major Petroleum Marketers in the country for taking issues of safety serious in their operations, pointing out the various safety measures they have taken to avert tanker crashes, especially fuel spillage, through the use of ‘Safety Valves’ had paid off.
He said: “The use of safety valves in tankers ensures that even if a crash occurs, the fuel would not spill on the ground to cause further havoc.
“It is possible that despite our best efforts, road crashes can still occur. But if adequate safety measures had been taken and the driver is in proper mental and physical state, the consequences would be minimal.
“That is why whenever crashes involving tankers belonging to Major Petroleum Markers occurred and the tank fell, they would not spill fuel on the ground, because the tankers are normally fitted with safety valves which prevent fuel from spilling,” he further stated.
Speaking on the policy measures put in place by the FRSC to avoid crashes involving haulage vehicles, Oyeyemi stated that Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS), which the Corps launched in 2007 was aimed at creating safe environment for fleet operators. According to him, the Scheme requires the employment of a Safety Manager by every fleet operator with over five vehicles in his fleet to ensure observance of safety rules and regulations by the drivers of the company.
He further stressed that the FRSC organised the National Summit on haulage operation early in the year in furtherance of its consultation with the relevant stakeholders who identified the need for enforcement, retraining and recertification of tanker/trailer drivers as antidotes to the perennial tanker crashes. “We launched Operation Scorpion in July specifically against the truck and trailer drivers who indulge in the contravention of traffic rules and regulations leading to the prosecution of some of the offenders at the Mobile Courts. “We deployed 3,000 of our personnel for that operation which we flagged off in Lagos,” he stated.
“During the first phase of the operation, 2,261 trailer and truck drivers were arrested with 32,089 offences out of which over 1,000 of the those apprehended were prosecuted at the Mobile Courts,” Oyeyemi stated.
In order to sustain the campaign against carnage involving tankers/trailers, Oyeyemi called on stakeholders in the transport industry to join hands with the FRSC to tackle the challenges of road safety in support of the development efforts of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that road safety and development are inter-related.
“Every Major Petroleum Marketer must endeavour to key into the Road Transport Standardisation Scheme of the FRSC and ensure that their drivers are subjected to regular training and retraining programmes to improve their knowledge of modern driving techniques.
“This has become imperative in view of the need to keep our roads free of carnage while the government is working assiduously to revitalise the railway system in the country,” Oyeyemi submitted.