Of rickety trucks and port operation

The incessant breakdown of trucks conveying goods from the nation’s seaports to different destinations as well as the catastrophe they cause for other road users have become a source of grave concerns to many Nigerians.

Driving articulated lorries otherwise known as tankers or trailers requires special skills and knowledge of traffic laws and regulations in force in the country. In Nigeria today, many drivers of articulated lorries are not qualified to operate such vehicles as they are not properly licensed and lack basic requirements to operate them hence high incidences of road traffic crashes on the highways.

In view of this high rate of road crashes resulting from unprofessional conduct and carelessness by some truck drivers, the Federal Government mandated the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to establish minimum safety requirements for heavy good vehicles.

The administration of minimum safety requirements among others, demand that articulated lorry operators conform to an established road transport safety standardization scheme, which ensures the registration of operators with at least five vehicles in their fleet and compliance with set-standards.

Operators with vehicles less than five must also comply with the minimum safety standards as clearly spelt out in the nation’s traffic laws and regulations.

Many truck operators over the years however find it convenient to ignore these laws and regulations. This is even more so for trucks that ply the nation’s seaports.

For years, broken down haulage trucks and unlatched containers falling off trucks have become common in Nigeria. In several cases, the ill-maintained trucks were found to be the cause of several road accidents due mostly to brake failures.

It is therefore heartwarming to note that the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has risen to the challenge of curtailing the influx of trucks that are not road worthy and stop same from doing business at the nation’s seaports.

Late last year, Port Manager of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Mallam Nasir Anas Mohammed warned that with effect from January this year, trucks that failed to meet basic safety standards would not allowed access into the port either to pick up or drop cargoes. True to his words, the port, with effect from 1st January 2015 commenced implementation of these standards.

It is important that truck operators observe basic safety measures including ensuring that their trucks are fitted with balanced air-braking system on all axles, single pane laminated windshield, large exterior mirrors for all round vision and halogen headlights.

Trucks must also have daytime running lights, master battery switch, clearance and warning lights, stop, tail and turn lights, audible backing alarm, vibration and sound proofing, cab mounted grab handles, fully adjustable driver’s seat, energy absorbing steering wheel, power-operated controls for windows and mirrors and anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Fire extinguishers, seat belt, ergonomically designed seats and head restraints and fire retardant seat material are all essential safety features that must be fitted onto the truck. This is addition to ensuring that the truck bed is strong and safe enough for the conveyance of goods.

Truck drivers must also undertake regular training and ensure that they get sufficient rest before taking to the wheels.

The enforcement of truck safety standards must not be left to the NPA alone. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders and interest groups to ensure that goods leaving the ports arrive their final destinations safely and without leading to the avoidable loss of lives or causing pains and hardships to other road users.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.