ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF ROAD TRANSPORT OWNERS (NARTO), ALH (DR) KASSIM IBRAHIM BATAIYA ON THE OFFICIAL FLAG-OFF OF PTD BRANCH OF NUPENG ANNUAL TANKER DRIVERS TRAINING/CERTIFICATION PROGRAM HELD ON TUESDAY 4TH AUGUST, 2015, AT ORILE TANKER PARK, LAGOS.
I am pleased to be invited to attend the opening ceremony of this year’s Annual Tanker Drivers Training/Certification Programme organized by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers’ Branch of NUPENG in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
This year’s program is coming against the background of increasing spate of vehicle accidents, particularly tanker explosions, in various parts of the country resulting in enormous loss of lives and destruction of property, in addition to many injury victims languishing in various hospitals across the country. These incidences have had tremendous impact on the consciousness of Nigerians and have rightly been elevated by the media to a level of national crisis. Some of the immediate steps taken by FRSC to address these problems included the organization of National summit on road haulage and continuous engagement with stakeholders in the road transport sector and public sensitization with a view to finding workable solutions to them. Drivers Training and retraining is one of the ways recommended by the summit, that can be used to curb this menace.
Research Statistics available indicate that about 75% of accident cases reported was as a result of human error. What this means is that, about 3/4 of accidents is caused by acts of either commission or omission by the drivers, while the rest of the 25% is caused by other reasons such as bad roads, vehicle failure etc. This is the reason why we are taking the issue of training and retraining very seriously.
To highlight the concern of government over the issue of road accidents in this country, the National Assembly has just invited critical stakeholders to a discussion of the problem this week hopefully with a view to proffering a solution.
The devastating consequences of accidents and explosions are far reaching to all the parties: the lives of the driver, the Motor Boy and any other persons within the proximity of the venue would be exposed to danger; the vehicle and its cargo as well as all other vehicles within the area are likely to be destroyed, while the resulting spillage and/or fire may destroy animals, houses, crops, vital installation and facilities as well as constitute serious health hazards to the environment. There is also an additional danger to the driver if he is lucky to escape: He faces the risk of lynching by angry mobs and/or prosecution by road safety authorities if it becomes obvious that the accident was due to his negligence or recklessness. Similarly, the owner of the vehicle is also subjected to different calamities: First, he loses the vehicle, then he bears responsibility for the products that are lost and he faces the threat of payment of compensation to the victims involved.
I would like to use this opportunity, therefore, to urge all of you to be safety conscious by observing road traffic signs, obey road safety officials, and avoid all the things that leads to accidents e.g. excessive and reckless speeding, dangerous over taking, particularly in sharp bends and hilly areas, night driving and driving while in a state of drunkenness. You should also imbibe the culture of pre-trip inspection of your vehicles to ensure they are road worthy such as checking the tire pressure, braking systems, headlights, hazard lights, tail/brake lights and pointers/traficators as well as windshield wipers. For your own safety and that of other road users and pedestrians, you should avoid fitting your vehicles with extra lights. The effect of excess light on the drivers of oncoming vehicles could be severely dangerous and fatal. You should also avoid carrying additional cargo on top of your tanks as you can see that the structure of the tank is not designed to carry any other cargo, as doing that usually put the life of other people at risk. While food items such as vegetables become poisonous due to contamination, wood becomes additional fuel during any fire outbreak often with disastrous consequences.
On our part, we shall continue to prevail on all truck owners to meet up with all the required safety standards in order to ensure your safety, of other road users and the general public. We shall encourage truck owners to introduce attractive accident free bonuses to their drivers in order to motivate them to imbibe the culture of safe/responsible driving. The Association itself is putting up an arrangement where drivers of proven track record of responsible behaviour and clean accident record would be recognized and commended at the level of our annual general meetings. The modalities for selection of qualified drivers would be communicated to you very soon.
I cannot end this address without commending the efforts of the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and his officers for their untiring efforts in ensuring that our roads are safe. His laudable initiatives such as the introduction of the speed limiting devices as well as the introduction of retro reflective tapes are designed to control excessive speeding and accident that are usually due to visibility problems. It is our collective duty to join hands with them in achieving this lofty dream. We encourage them to continue to do more.
While commending government in their efforts to ensure that security is provided on our roads, we call on them to intensify efforts in constructions and repair of our roads, particularly, on Jebba-Mokwa Road in Niger State and the Refinery road in Port-Harcourt in order to minimize the rate of accident of tankers on those roads. We also call on Lagos State Government to control the activities of Area Boys who constantly harass our drivers in order to extort money from them thereby causing unnecessary fracas in the process, which leads to accidents. While thanking the Lagos State Government for providing some parking areas for our wet cargo trucks, we appeal to them to provide more of these facilities for dry cargo trucks since it is dangerous to combine the two types of trucks in the same location. This will also reduce, to the bearest minimum, the incidences of traffic logjam in the city which provide another fertile ground for accidents.
Finally, I would like to commend the efforts of PTD, once more, for this laudable initiative. NARTO would continue to co-operate with you in these kind of endavours. We hope the objectives for which this training is organized would be achieved. I wish you good luck.
Thank you very much for listening.
ALHAJI (DR) KASSIM IBRAHIM BATAIYA