The avoidable Ojuelegba tragedy

Ojuelegba tragedy

On Tuesday 19th of June 2018, men and women that had left their homes in good health with hopes of going back to their families were met with tragedy, a truly saddening incident. A truck fell off Ojuelegba Bridge and crushed vehicles leading to fatality. Many were injured and three people lost dear lives to this unfortunate incident. May God grant the families of the departed fortitude to bear the loss, and restore the injured. Nigerians in their true caring manner were active on the internet praying for the victims of the avoidable calamity. The #PrayforOjuelegba instantly became a trending topic used by individuals to share their thoughts on social media. Commendably the Lagos state emergency response team was on hand to address the unfortunate incident. Their early intervention saved the lives of the injured that were quickly rushed to the hospital. According to the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency LASEMA, Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu “Two trapped victims were extracted with the aid of the agency’s light rescue equipment and immediately taken to the hospital by the officials of the Lagos State Ambulance Service for further medical treatment but unfortunately three male adults were confirmed dead.”

Whilst the response by the state government is commendable, the sad truth is that the unfortunate incident could have been avoided. More so that this is not the first time accident with fatality is occurring on the same bridge. In September 2015, similar incident happened when a truck fell off the bridge leaving about three people dead. The event was followed by an appeal from residents of Ojuelegba for containerised trucks to be restricted from using the Bridge, which is the sensible thing to do to prevent another mishap. Apparently the government did not heed the call and truck drivers have also continued to use the bridge indiscriminately. The recent unfortunate incident is another call on the government to review the laws and policies regulating vehicular movement in the metropolis. To prevent a repeat of this tragedy requires immediate restriction of trucks from using the bridge since it is not mandatory to drive through the bridge. There is an adjoining section on the road that is safer for trucks and other articulated vehicles. The state government working with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and state traffic officers should ensure the enactment and implementation of such policy or law as the case may be. In actual fact, bridges should only be used anywhere by articulated vehicles when there is no alternative.

Equally, it is important for the truck owners and drivers to appropriately maintain their vehicles and latch them properly. The need to intervene and intensify the regulation of truck drivers in the country cannot be over-emphasised. There is no question on the importance of their service since our rail lines that should have been the most preferred means for transporting cargoes have remained moribund. However, we cannot allow the reckless ones among the truck drivers and owners to kill millions of Nigerians before we take action. In a speech last year, the FRSC Corps Marshal, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi revealed that over 1,000 people have so far lost their lives between December 2016 and January 2017 across the country as a result of auto crashes caused by tanker drivers. How long shall we allow this misfortune to continue because of the carelessness and recklessness of some people?

For instance, the Ojuelegba incident could have been avoided if necessary precautions were taken. Perhaps, if the plywood were properly latched, the situation could have been avoided. But more importantly the government needs to take urgent action to stop this from happening again. It is important to note that the design of the bridge is risky for articulated vehicles because it is slanted. This suggests that the best precaution is to prevent trucks from using bridge. Erecting a height barrier will be an effective way of discouraging trucks and other articulated vehicles from the road. In the same vein there is need to immediately stop the indiscriminate parking by commercial bus drivers on the adjoining roads by the bridge. Other motorists, especially truckers, are discouraged from using that section of the road because of the indiscriminate parking by Danfo drivers who take pleasure in obstructing free flow of traffic. When that section is cleared and there is free flow of traffic, there will be no justification for any truck driver to use the bridge. Introducing the measures outlined should prevent a repetition of this unfortunate tragedy. We hope the Lagos State government will take proactive measures to secure lives on the road.