By Mckay Chukwu
Like many Nigerians, when I first heard about the Otedola bridge incident, my fist thought was “why would petrol laden trucks be allowed to ply at daytime”
Fast-forward to the morning after when the FRSC Lagos sector commander appeared in a phone interview on Channels TV, like it worked for some of our south western compatriots when the presidency honoured MKO, the thoughts of the FRSC chief tweaked mine a bit.
He was faced with many questions, one of which was, why allow trucks ply day time and he responded, “there’s no casualty free time for them to ply as the road is always busy day and night”. No doubt the number of casualties would have been minimal at night but like he posited, the response from all the emergency angecies would have equally been slower at night.
But there’s another angle to it, the duty you and I owe as citizens to help avert some of these avoidable accidents. Bear in mind people like you and I own these trucks and some of them aren’t road worthy but they fly regardless. People’s still exhibit poor driving culture including but not limited to driving without a licence.
I’m not talking back my position of holding people responsible but it has to be everybody, not just the leaders and the authorities. It’s natural to lack empathy in a failed system but that mentality has to change otherwise nothing will change. The system is a product of the people.
Our commitment to seeking the shortest cut possible gives rise to corruption in this country. I feel ashamed writing this as I am guilty as I charge. I remember times when I needed to get to my destination faster, I would violate traffic rules. Do I talk about driving without licence and expecting the regulators to understand.
Law enforcement agencies are corrupt, you can’t even defend them same way we can’t defend ourselves for always exploring ways to anything but face the law. People who are willing to bribe their way out of misdemeanors should complain less of corrupt practices and channel the energy to maintaining law and order.
In Nigeria, only senior marketers in the oil sector maintain international best practices in the transportation of the inflammable products they deal on. In sane countries, there are trucks built with high resistance to explosions – these trucks would never spill these products even if they fell from a dangerous height and speed. Last I heard from the sector, some marketers were seeking interventions to acquire these trucks. The government would in its usual M.O. stall any possible intervention, the marketers would carry on with the unworthy trucks while the regulators would be compromised as per usual.
Back to the road users and if I may ask, if you are reading this, what’s the distance you maintain with respect to other vehicles while trailing them? Issa bumper to bumper thing Fam! that would later make it difficult for any possible escape when tragedy strikes. Everyone is guilty of this, fact.
It’s well documented that Africa experience the highest percentage of auto crashes in the world, with Nigeria amongst the leading nations – this is despite the continent having the lowest percentage of the world’s automobiles.
It’s now “we all die here” quite literally and it’s sad that “we want to come and kill ourselves by ourselves”
RIP to the dead and while we are on that, to forestall future occurrences – as have witnessed in the pasts plenty of reoccurrance – let’s borrow a leaf from Tony Robbins, “Nothing changes when you change nothing”. Let’s change the way we act, it’s time to pray less and act more – act right.