PART of the enduring tragedies of our nation is our chronic and pathetic incompetence in enforcing our laws. This problem runs through the gamut of governance at all levels – local government, state and federal. Governance in Nigeria is mainly reactive rather than being visionary. This had led to frequent but avoidable losses of lives and property which the ordinary citizens are forced to endure.
The tanker explosion on the Michael Otedola Bridge outbound Lagos on Thursday June 28, 2018 which claimed at least nine lives and destroyed 50 vehicles was obviously an offshoot of a faulty juggernaut laden with petrol. Reports have it that the vehicle could not complete the action of climbing the bridge and had to roll back and hence the tragedy.
In typical fashion, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Ladi Lawanson, met with stakeholders in the haulage sector, such as the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD and read the riot acts.
He gave them 30 days within which to obtain their Ministry of Transportation Certificate of Roadworthiness from the designated centres throughout the state. They are also to strictly ply through the Apapa/Oworonsoki/Ogudu to the Lagos – Ibadan Express. The Lagos State Government is now to erect barriers on all bridges across the state to prevent these trunks and tankers from plying and resting on them as currently applies.
We are sure that if these measures had been in place and scrupulously implemented, tragedies such as this would be very minimal in the country. But unfortunately, law enforcement is often hampered by the sacred cow syndrome, whereby some highly-connected individuals are seen to be above the law. Most of these trucks, tankers and trailers belong to highly-placed politicians, traditional rulers, serving and retired military personnel and their cohorts who use their positions to intimidate and overawe our security agents and law-enforcement officers.
To worsen matters, the unions involved in the heavy trucks and haulage sector are often very recalcitrant and quick to hold the nation to ransom through strikes and various forms of civil disobedience. Of course, the corruption that is rampant among the law-enforcement agents complicates matters further.
We must adopt zero-tolerance towards those who disobey the laws of the land, particularly the owners and operators of these trucks. It is unfortunate that there is very little these lawbreakers stand to lose when their actions to lead to losses to innocent citizens. We must come up with measures that will frighten operators in the sector from falling into the hands of the law.
A nation that is unable to implement its laws and rein in the excesses of its citizens is a failed nation.