The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has provided more insight into preliminary investigation on the Thursday tragedy that saw two 20-foot containers collapse on vehicles travelling along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway in Lagos State, leading to one fatality and four injured.
Sector Commander, FRSC, Lagos State, Olusegun Ogungbemide, who made a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, explained that preventative efforts of the Corps had reduced the frequency of such accidents in the state.
“If you look at where we are coming from, virtually every day, you would see issues of crashes involving tankers, containers falling on people. And that was what brought about the policy of latching and twist-locking. What we witnessed yesterday is quite unfortunate, that we had to lose a life.
“Before now, we’ve been having these issues of containers happening, maybe due to bad roads and misconduct of the drivers. But lives have not really been lost because of a policy. The event of yesterday would have been more devastating if not for the policy of making sure that the container is twist-locked or latched.
“The man that had that problem yesterday must be produced by the owner of that vehicle. The system has commenced. He can only run; he can’t run forever because until we decide to take responsibility for our misbehaviour and misconduct on the highway, it will continue to be business as usual. But the narrative has changed,” he said.
Speaking on the forensic investigation of the recent incident, Ogungbemide noted that the articulated truck that conveyed the fallen containers had complied with the regulation.
“Yes, it was. If you watch the video or the picture of that truck, the container was still with the truck, only that it fell on that vehicle, which the preliminary investigation confirmed that it was the misconduct or recklessness of the driver,” he said.
According to him, the FRSC has identified loopholes being exploited by errant drivers.
“We still see some of these vehicles outside (with containers that are) not twist-locked or latched – we now realised that the various points. We are talking about those that load from the ports now, where we have our operatives both the (Apapa) Wharf and the Tincan. Before you can pull out, you must be twist-locked.
“When they move out of the ports, they get to a bonded terminal and trans-load to another vehicle, which escaped those that are monitoring them at the ports. I have been having collaboration with VIS now that we have to extend our eagle eye beyond the ports to the bonded terminals.
“I will not disprove the fact that it cannot be a perfect system. That’s why we have our operatives along the line. On the Lagos-Ibadan corridor, we have more than five commands lined up along that corridor. So, if you escape in Lagos, you cannot escape at Mowe,” he said.
Ogungbemide stated that the policy applies to every location where loading takes place, including wet and dry cargos, adding that operatives of the Corps are on the ground.
“You find them more in Port Harcourt – because we have a port there – and Lagos. We still have them distributed in all other ports that are operating. And the other one that has assisted and is more like it is the one we call Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSS).
“It’s a scheme that came up in 2009 that our haulage system was not regulated and it was an all-comers affair, and that is why we were having a series of crashes. Nobody talked about the maintenance of the vehicle or the status of the drivers, and the operators are not bothered.
“So, what RTSS came to checkmate has to do with the status of the drivers. You must be held accountable for the drivers you employ to work in your service. The second one is that you must be able to account for the vehicles you are putting on the road, while the third one is the operator – what facilities have you put in place for the comfort of your drivers.”
According to him, any fleet operator that has more than four or five vehicles in their fleet must be registered under that policy.