Truck pushers at work

By Wole Mosadomi

They call themselves ‘Kings of the Road’, and it seems they are in their own way. They are right to claim ownership of any road in which they operate because they neither give way to other categories of road users nor observe any known traffic rule in their quest to eke out more and more cash from their patrons.

As far as these boys are concerned, their eyes are fixed on how much money they can make a day and not on how they do it or whose ox is gored in the process.

It appears they are winning the war with a mentality of pushing hard with their interests and pulling down any ‘obstacle’ in the process, whether human or material. This is because they manipulate their wheel barrow – their tool of operation – with reckless abandon and some level of violence, thereby creating a sense of fear and threat to others in sight.

Right or wrong, the wheel boys of power seem to be having a field day becuase there is absolutely no law at the moment regulating their operations in the state. And, they love it!

Their victims are motorists, pedestrians and all who use markets and other public spaces. They respect none and fear nobody in their daily outings to make a living using the rugged metal carrier.

They are fully appreciative of their indispensable value to market women, as well as men who need help to ferry their goods from point to point.

They are also aware that there are endless users and patrons of their services and that somehow there are places that make them to appear like monopolists in the value chain of business.

But they have not only become a thorn in the flesh of other public space users but have also constituted a nuisance even to their clients and those they see as competitors.

A typical wheel barrow pusher quickly abandons his ‘machine’ on the road if he suddenly runs out of steam and takes a nap and may not care how many are trapped in the process and how long the queue of those blocked may be.

Persistent honking by motorists and wailing by victims of barrow pushers do not seem to prick their conscience at all and do not change anything in their mindsets.

Motorists and pedestrians fear them a lot because the frame of their oblong trucks are iron-cast and can hardly be broken easily. They are harmful to those who dare to push them back when they misfire.

The three major traffic regulators – the Vehicle Inspector Officers, VIOs; Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC; and traffic police appear handicapped because there appears to be no known legislation to curb the barrow boys.

Deputy Corps Commander/Admin and Human Resources of Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, in Niger State, Ngozi Imoroa, told Arewa Voice that in the absence of any law regulating them, it appears difficult to move against wheelbarrow operation in the state.

She said: “These set of people are in the same class of water vendors, cattle rearers and ordinary pedestrians on the streets without any law restricting their movement.

“Honestly, we have been seeing them pushing their wheelbarrows on the streets especially where there are concentrations of markets and warehouses but there is no law regulating them. We only need to educate and enlighten them on the need to protect their lives and those of other public space users.

“We will locate their leaders and sensitise them on the need for them to be cautious while on the road. From the photographs seen and from what we have also been seeing too, they can endanger their lives, that of the motorists and even pedestrians especially when the goods they are pushing fall off their trucks on the road which can lead to an accident and road obstruction.”

A Traffic Warden, who pleaded for anonymity also said that the operation of the barrow pushers was beyond their powers as they cannot stop or even arrest them.

He said: “They are not in our traffic laws at all and we cannot, therefore, arrest or detain them for now. We see them on the roads every minute but no matter the nuisance they pose to other road users, we have no power to arrest them.

“To them, they are always right and cannot be approached or corrected, but if a law to regulate them is enacted today by government, then we will be empowered to deal with them like any other driver on the road.”

As lucrative as the business of barrowing is, the recklessness of the operators poses a grave danger to the society and a threat to the health of many others. Dr. Victor Olayemi, who is a specialist in general surgery, said these wheel barrow pushers are grossly violating the medical “law of use and disuse” because they are over using their muscles.

He said: “The bicepts at hand is being over used and it becomes worn out easily. They are easily exposed to shoulder problem because they are prone to dislocation and because of all these, they are also prone to chronic pains often and all these lead them to use all sorts of analgesic on daily basis.

“Abuse of these analgesics can easily lead to ulcer and perforation of the stomach or intestine.

“If the intestine is perforated, such affected person might start stooling through the intestine instead of through the anus due to hard work and this could lead to operation.”

Muhammed Lawal, 23, declared: “I feel stronger on daily basis with the work especially after taking my drugs.”

Showing the various types of drugs in a packaged nylon to our correspondent, the lively and unperturbed Muhammed burst into laughter saying “these are the sources of my energy and once I take them, I feel strong again and I start my daily work till dusk.”

Although the ‘unlicenced kings of the road eke out a living from brushing aside others, the dangers associated with the bravery and panache do not equal the cash they take home at the end of the day.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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