By The Editor
The chronicle of accidents and resulting deaths and destructions across the nation involving trucks belonging to Dangote Group of Companies have brought to the fore issues of safety rules and standards for road users.
Over time, Dangote Group truck drivers have faced public wrath for alleged recklessness on public roads.
Two of the group’s trucks were set on fire recently by an angry mob for allegedly causing multiple accidents in which seven people died and 10 others were seriously injured.
Another Dangote truck was alleged as the cause of multiple accidents soon after that on New Year Day along Abeokuta-Lagos highway in Ogun State. According to reports, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) confirmed that the accident was as a result of brake failure on the part of the Dangote truck.
Corps’ Sector Commander, Mr. Clement Oladele, said “the suspected cause of the multiple crashes was brake failure on the part of the truck, which led to the other vehicles crashing into each other”. Six vehicles were involved in the accident and six out of 10 persons sustained injuries.
Across the nation, the report is the same – allegations of deaths and injuries involving Dangote’s trucks. – An accident that killed over 50 people was recently reported in Lagos. Horrific photos of Dangote trailer’s accident in Asaba. A report of a neglected victim of January 2014 collision with Dangote Cement truck who lost ability to walk. A report of how the trucks killed and injured over 2,000 people in four years.
Cringey headlines announce recorded accidents involving the group’s trucks. These include ‘Dangote truck driver crushes own conductor to death’; Dangote Cement truck kills five persons and injures many in Enugu State’; ‘6 killed in Dangote truck-bus collision’; ‘Dangote truck turns passengers to minced meat inside bus’; ‘Six killed, 10 injured in accident involving Dangote truck on Lokoja-Abuja road’; and ‘Dangote truck crushes seven vehicles, 25 persons injured at Odukpani junction, Cross River State.
Recently, in Ihiala, Anambra State, a Dangote trailer fully loaded with cement, ran into people around Total Filling Station killing 7 persons on the spot and up to 25 people were reported to have died subsequently. The casualties were mostly hawkers ranging from young children hawking gala and pure water to old women selling bread by the roadside.
The story is the same about the company’s trucks beyond Nigeria. In Zambia, a Dangote truck killed eight people on the spot in an accident involving multiple motor vehicles. Zambia’s Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) said it established that the road accident was caused by the driver of the Dangote truck, who misjudged the distance when overtaking.
Zambia has expressed concerns about the number of road traffic accidents involving Dangote trucks in a few months. The country’s safety agency assured the Zambian people that it would engage the company concerning its deteriorating road safety record.
Dangote Group is not the only company with a large haulage business. Breweries and soft drinks producers have their trucks on the roads daily. The flour millers and other manufacturers are on the same roads continually. Other cement producing companies also distribute their products with trucks in the same manner.
However these haulage ventures have attracted less public outrage for their activities.
The reported causes of most of the accidents are faulty vehicle parts and non-compliance with safety standards of loading and speeding. The combination of the three factors becomes a destructive weapon ready to unleash deaths anywhere.
Another concern is that regulatory standards for trucks on the roads appear to have fallen short of minimum expectations for safety of lives and property and the silence of lawmakers and regulatory agencies speaks volumes of their jobs as representatives of the people.
At the slightest air mishap, lawmakers would summon ministers and heads of agencies and demand improvement in safety standards. Yet, there are less calls for accountability for the loss of lives through preventable road accidents.
The same safety considerations for which standard checks on aircraft are made compulsory should apply to trucks of haulage companies. It is expected that trucks of various categories should be subjected to regular independent checks while age limits should be specified above which trucks should no longer be allowed to ply Nigerian roads.
These measures would go a long way to avert the menace of killer trucks and save the lives of other road users and property.