Despite the fact that reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway has reached 60 per cent completion, current surge in tanker accidents resulting in damages of finished sections of the road is generating concerns among stakeholders. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
hen the Federal Government, led by President Mohammadu Buhari, flagged off the reconstruction of 127.6 kilometre Lagos – Ibadan expressway in November 2018, it was meant to restore the glory of the dilapidated major highway, which serves as a critical link to Lagos from other parts of Nigeria to its original state when it was newly constructed in 1978.
Two years down the line, the construction of the expressway, which commenced
from old Ojota toll gate in Lagos State to the end of Ibadan toll gate in Oyo State, has neared 60 per cent completion, according to Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, an engineer.
The contractors, Messrs Julius Berger (JB) Plc and Reynoids Construction Company Limited (RCC), are expected to deliver the project in 2022.
However, current concern of stakeholders about the expressway centers on rising cases of multiple tanker accidents within the route.
Within two months, three fatai accidents involving tankers and commercial buses occured on Otedola, Kara and Long bridges locations on the expressway.
Apart from dead victims and burnt trucks, significant portions of the highway and bridges already consructed have gone bad due to inferno caused by the accidents.
The latest was last week accident on Kara Bridge, the Ibadan bound carriageway of the expressway, where two other tankers were engulfed, leaving the asphalt pavement and concrete reinforcement in bad shape.
This, according to Poopola, necessitated the closure of the bridge for two days to allow integrity tests from Saturday June 27 to Sunday June 28, 2020.
Stakeholders including the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, residents and motorists had raised the alarm over incessant tanker accidents and destruction of the expressway.
Lamenting while speaking with New Telegraph, Mr Sola Aladenika, a resident in Mowe, said the rate at which truck and tanker accident occured between Ibafo and Mowe along the expressway was alarming.
He noted that hardly would any week pass without having a truck involving in a. accident on the expressway.
He also noted that some portions of the constructed carriageways were already damaged by tanker drivers.
Incessant tanker accident, another resident in Ibafo, Paul Odusanya, said, was responsible for the prolonged traffic jam on the expressway.
He narrated how he spent a whole night on the Long Bridge in February 2020 owing to explosion of petrol tanker on the route.
A motorist, who did not want his name in print, said he lost his Toyota Camry car in the inferno caused by a tanker explosion on Otedola Bridge in 2018.
Alhaji Abdullah inuwa Mohammed of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) had said the association had, on many occasions, enlightened tanker drivers on road safety culture.
He added that members with old trucks also had depots with which safety measures about driving are being taught.
Mohammed attributed indiscriminate parking by commercial buses on the expressway as one of the factors responsible for tanker’s accident.
He called for holistic solutions towards reducing tanker accidents on highways.
According to statistics from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRCN), Nigeria lost $9.8 billion to tanker accidents in 2018.
However, it was stated that there was slight improvement in the truck accidents recorded in 2018 when compared to 2017 and 2016
“Number of truck crashes in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were 282, 240 and 196 respectively. Lves lost to accidents cannot be measured in monetary terms,” report from FRSC read.
In 2019, the report said that 199 accidents were recorded with economic value worth N9.6billion invoking cost of other vehicles.
On June 21 ,2020, there was a multiple accidents involving three tankers, leading to fire incidence on Kara Bridge. Two people died during the incident.
In May 21, 2020, a tanker loaded with petroleum rammed into a bus and a car on Otedola Bridge, killing one person, with several others injured.
Also in January 8, 2019, a petrol tanker spilled content on the expressway causing accidents.
In June 27, 2018, an explosion of a petroleum filled tanker engulfed other vehicles after Otedola Bridge on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, killing 12 people, while 54 vehicles were burnt, apart from damaging the road asphalt pavement.
Lagos sector commander of FRSC, Hyginous Omeje , noted that there had been several crashes involving tankers on the route.
Current Director, Federal Highways Services, South West, Mr. Adedamola Kuti, in company of former Director, Funsho Adebiyi, had recently warned truck drivers not to scuttle speedy execution of the project by their attitude.
Speaking with stakeholders comprising members of National Association of Road Transport Workers (NARTW) and National Association of Road Transport Owners at the Reynod Construction Company (RCC) yard after Ogere on the Shagamu -Ibadan end of the road, Adebiyi expressed sadness over two government engineers working on Oyo -Ogbomosho road, who were knocked down by truck drivers recently.
Ogere Branch Secretary, NURTW, Tijani Ahmed, said truck drivers major challenge on the expressway was inadequate parking space, adding that private parks along the axis were not well maintained.
Sector Commander of Federal Roads Safety Corps, Ogun State, Mr. Clement Oladele, and Oyo counterpart, Mrs Willfred Chukwurah, warned against wreckless driving by truck/tanker drivers.
It was gathered that many road’s contructed are to have a minimum carrying capacity of 30 tonnes – 33,000 litres. Currently, most tankers carry 60,000 litres to 90,000 litres.
Something has to be done about tanker drivers’ recklessness to reduce carnage and preserve the nation’s highways.