Renovation of roads is supposed to be a blessing to all road users anywhere in the world, but motorists plying Ogun State roads have turned the newly renovated highways in the State into a ‘suicide ground’ and an avenue to commit murder.
Some expressways in Ogun State have been rehabilitated by either the Federal Government or the State government. While the Lagos-Ibadan road is nearing completion, the Ogun State Government has earlier in the year commissioned the Abeokuta-Sagamu interchange and the Ijebu-Ode/Epe roads.
DAILY POST observed that the reconstruction of the roads have given drivers the opportunity to move at a faster pace than they used to. Unfortunately, many have resorted to excessive speeding, thereby sending themselves and others to early graves.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said data from the agency shows that speeding accounts for the major cause of road traffic accidents in the country. The former FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, once stated that the completed portion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway looks like a runway to motorists, saying “people go on testing the capacity of their vehicles.”
Ogun is one of the States in Nigeria with a large number of expressways, being the only one connecting different States and zones with Lagos State and Benin Republic. Also, the larger part of the Lagos-Ibadan highway and the Benin-Ore road lie within the Gateway State. As a result, most of the road crashes on these roads are usually in Ogun.
In the past few months, the media have been awash with shocking reports of lives being lost to road crashes on these newly renovated highways. Sadly, many of the crashes were avoidable and preventable.
Reports from the FRSC and the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement (TRACE) Corps have shown that the majority of the crashes occurred after vehicles must have lost control due to excessive speeding.
In most cases, drivers who lost control of their vehicles while speeding would end up ramming into people, crushing them to death. Some drivers would run into another vehicle and die in the accident.
On Friday, a cement truck had lost control and ran into a building, killing a pregnant woman and a minor, along the Abeokuta-Ibadan highway, Ogun State.
Two days before this incident, a speeding truck had claimed the lives of a man, his wife and their baby while travelling on a motorcycle. The driver of the truck lost control of the vehicle along the Ibadan-Ijebu-Ode highway and killed the family of three on the spot.
Knowing the consequence of his action, the driver sped off instead of waiting to show some sensitivity, but he was chased and captured by some bike riders, who pounced on him and set his truck ablaze.
That same day, another road crash claimed five lives at Iju, along the Ota-Idiroko road. A speeding diesel tanker had brake failure, lost control and rammed into two cars, a tricycle and a motorcycle, before falling into a ditch.
On Sunday, two persons died in an accident at the Isara axis of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The FRSC said the suspected cause of the crash was excessive speed, which led to loss of control on the side of a Camry driver as he collided with a truck.
DAILY POST reports that no fewer than 12 persons died in four reported cases of road accidents across Ogun State in the last one week. Our correspondent gathered that there are many unreported cases of road crashes across Ogun daily.
Our correspondent finds out that a large percentage of the accidents on these newly renovated roads were lone, involving just one vehicle. According to various eyewitness reports available to traffic regulatory agencies, drivers of such vehicles must have engaged in too much speeding. They would veer off the road, somersault or sometimes go up in flames.
No fewer than five persons were confirmed dead on June 29, when a bus caught fire while in motion along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the FRSC said.
On August 5, four persons were also burnt to death in a lone accident that occurred around Oniworo, after the Foursquare camp. The Ogun FRSC confirmed that the lone crash involved a Mazda bus with registration number APP934XH.
The commercial bus with 20 passengers on board had engaged in excessive speed, which led to loss of control and the Mazda bus rammed into the median strip (road divider) and went up in flames, killing four.
In the same vein, the nonchalant attitudes of truck drivers on these roads have become a source of worry for major road users, law enforcement agencies and the government.
“In Ogun, drivers of heavy duty vehicles are known for careless driving and lack of respect for traffic laws, signs and symbols. They are known for having no regard for other road users. Ironically, they hardly sustain injuries in the crashes caused by their recklessness,” a driver, Adewole Ojo, said.
Ogun govt has taken action – Commissioner
In an interview with DAILY POST, the Ogun State Commissioner for Transportation, Engr Gbenga Dairo, said efforts were in place to check the excesses of truck drivers on Ogun roads.
While saying the safety of the people of Ogun State is held paramount by the state government, Dairo maintained that government, in view of the increase in traffic related accidents, particularly incidents associated with trucks, trailers and heavy goods vehicles plying newly rehabilitated or reconstructed roads across the state, has warned motorists to observe the Highway Code and comply with traffic rules and regulations on all classes of roads within the state.
Dairo disclosed that government had, few weeks ago, escalated enforcement activity on all State roads, targeting the newly reconstructed Abeokuta to Sagamu Interchange and the Ijebu-Ode to Epe corridors for intensified enforcement activity and patrols by officers and men of TRACE, VIS, FRSC and the police.
In view of this, Dairo told owners, managers, operators and drivers of heavy goods vehicles, trucks and trailers to ensure that their vehicles are certified road-worthy with all vehicle manufacturer-installed safety devices, appliances and equipment (eg lights/lamps, brakes, tyres) in functioning order, saying vehicles must carry appropriate and functioning equipment and kit for use in emergencies.
He charged that vehicles must be licensed to operate on the public highway by the appropriate authorities with all licenses adequately displayed.
Aside from the display of vehicle number plates, drivers and operators must have and carry appropriate valid licenses confirming possession of skills necessary to safely drive and control trucks and HGVs on the public highway.
“Drivers and operators must not be inhibited or inebriated and must be physically, mentally and psychologically fit to operate a vehicle, while observing the applicable speed limit of maximum 50kph on the highway,” the Commissioner explained.
Dairo maintained that “vehicles found to be non-compliant with licensing and operational rules and regulations will be impounded and attract a fine of Ten Thousand Naira (₦10,000.00) per day aside other associated fines in accordance with TRACE Traffic Law.”
The government appointee disclosed that there had been reduction in cases of road crashes involving trucks on Ogun roads since the enforcement.
Speed limit device, public enlightenment needed – FRSC
Meanwhile, the FRSC in Ogun State said road crashes could occur as a result of environmental, mechanical or human factors.
The FRSC spokesperson in Ogun, Florence Okpe, however, said the human factor plays a major role in preventing crashes that could be caused by other factors.
According to her, the majority of the accidents on Ogun roads were caused by speeding, saying most drivers do not have the application of the common sense speed limit, even without using speed limit devices.
Okpe recalled that the agency had recently charged users of Toyota Sienna to get speed limit devices for their cars as the brand of vehicle is prone to crashes if driven at a much higher speed.
“Speed limit devices have been approved since 2007. It is on commercial vehicles for now. The enforcement has been on. Most fleet operators are using the device.
“There are vendors selling the device for motorists. We don’t sell it out. You go to vendors that sell it. Ours is just to enforce. Proper enforcement is ongoing.
“What we also need to curb the high rate of road crashes is public enlightenment. Robust public enlightenment is necessary for people to adhere to traffic rules and regulations. The installation of the speed limit device alone is not enough. People need to know and abide by traffic rules. With more public enlightenment, people will know the good roads, the bad roads and how to make use of them,” Okpe said.