The frequent numerous accidents on Kebbi roads involving heavy trucks and trailers, has continued to expose commuters , motorists , traders and residents of the affected areas in the State to untold suffering and hardship.YAHYA SARKI writes.
The worst case scenario is often experienced on the Kalgo/Jega road which has become notorious for truck accidents , leaving victims, eye witnesses and families with gory tales and nightmares.
The unfortunate situation caused by these heavy duty trailers and trucks with its attendant traffic congestion cannot be said to be news any longer.
The development is a nightmare that most commuters and motorists also seem to have resigned themselves to accept, with long suffering, even after several lives have been lost in the process.
Some months back, some persons met their untimely death at the Koko/Yauri area of the state when a trailer veered off the expressway and hit a commercial bus, crushing its passengers to death.
Figures obtained from the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Sector Command in Birnin Kebbi, revealed that between January 2017 and December 2018, Kebbi State has recorded nine trailer accidents with twenty one deaths aside livestock and properties worth millions of naira. LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that in December 2018 alone, the state recorded two fatal trailer accidents.
The FRSC reports showed that the fatal accident which has remained a nightmare to residents of the area as well as commuters claimed fifteen lives, while valuable goods and animals worth millions of naira were also lost.
Though , many of such accidents have not been reported to the authorities like the Federal Roads Safety Corps, the Police, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) or even the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the few who survived such have had to leave with gory tales.
Although the state has fairly good road network accessible to all, it has twenty one local government areas; tarred and untarred rural roads, only with exception of Yauri, Shanga and Zuru local government areas which are major routes that connects farming communities.
Its a fact that most roads in the state serve as routes to major markets in and outside the state like Lagos, Ibadan where agricultural produce are sold.
While we must acknowledge the fact that the last administration of governor Saidu Nasamu Dakingari constructed lots of rural roads especially in local government areas , it is important to mention that the present regime of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu is constructing new roads, in addition to the major rehabilitation of Yauri/ Shanga road that spans through Kontagora in Niger State.
Sadly, rather than meet their needs , these huge investment on Kebbi roads have caused more harm than good, an ugly trend that has generated concerns.
For instance, in December 2018 alone , no fewer than fifteen persons lost their lives to multiple trailer accidents. The most recent incident occurred along Kalgo/Jega road which also led to the death of four persons while twenty four others were hospitalised.
An eye witness, Ibrahim Saudi told LEADERSHIP Sunday that luck ran out on the deceased when the tire of a trailer loaded with goods from Birnin Kebbi and heading towards Lagos bursted.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls earlier in the same month of December, a ghastly trailer accident occurred, crushing eleven traders to death in Jega local government area of Kebbi State.
The driver, who was believed to have lost control of the truck, crashed into traders by the roadside at Gindi junction and left them lifeless. This incident threw eyewitnesses into shock as they could not believe how soon those lives were cut shot.
Bello Abubakar, who witnessed the accident told our correspondents that the accident occurred at a busy road where traders display their wares to attract the attention of commuters and passersby.
According to him the trailer was coming from Koko/Yauri area of the state when the accident happened. He said, 46 others that narrowly escaped death by the whiskers were rushed to the Jega General Hospital for treatment.
Reports has it that many of those who died in the accident were bread, orange and banana hawkers. He said “The accident happened when the trailer was coming from Lagos or Ibadan in the South West. The driver lost control of the vehicle at the point of entering Jega from the Koko/Yauri side and it ran into a group of roadside traders”.
Other accidents involving either trailers or trucks are still fresh in the minds of people in the state most especially commuters. Many of which are extremely fatal, leading to loss of lives and properties.
LEADERSHIP Sunday investigations revealed that a truck conveying goods worth N500 million from markets to Birnin Kebbi, caught fire after it downed an electric cable crossing the road. The accident was along Basaura/Jega road around December last year.
Alhaji Adamu Tanko who was an eye witness explained that the tragedy occured after the truck pulled down an electric cable, that thus resulted to electrical sparks and subsequently ignited fire that engulfed it.
He said the truck and goods worth millions were completely burnt to ashes, while both the driver and his conductor escaped unhurt.
In another incident, in November, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered also that no fewer than fifteen cattle traders lost their lives in a trailer accident along Koko/Maiyama road in Kebbi State.
The traders, it was learnt, were heading to Lagos and Ibadan to sell their cow when the accident happened. Over two hundred cows and other livestock reportedly perished in the accident.
Residents of Birnin Kebbi, the state capital cannot also quickly forget the trailer accident along Gwadangaji road close to Zinari hotel.
The accident which occurred last year claimed two lives when the driver of the trailer lost control of the vehicle. The list is endless as fear of such incident has continued to grip residents of the state, particularly those who conduct their businesses by the road side.
Investigations carried out by Sunday Leadership revealed that accidents involving trailers in Kebbi State, revealed that the accidents occurred more frequently along Jega axis leading to Yauri road which links up to Kontagora in Niger state.
Two reasons may be evident; first is that Jega is a business hub that attracts traders with their merchandise in and outside the state, coupled with trailers and trucks loading goods seen frequently.
Secondly, apart from serving as a business centre, it also serves as a transit route to Lagos, Abuja and other western and southern states of the country.
Disturbingly, while 70 percent of these accidents are due to carelessness, negligence of traffic rules, over speeding, overloading , drug abuse among others, which is very common, poor maintenance of these vehicles as well as psychological factor, is also linked to it .
Kebbi State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Abayomi Asaniyan who expressed disappointment at the incessant trailer accidents across the state said his command has taken measures to curtail the menace.
He explained that overloading of vehicles, trailers in particular with goods, passengers are major cause of such accidents.
According to the sector commander, we are collaborating with relevant stakeholders like the NURTW to check the ill attitude of trailer drivers.”
“Of recent , we have observed frequent road accidents involving trailers .
This is borne out of overloading of their vehicles or trailers with goods and passengers. And to this effect we have tried all our best to ensure that the drivers change their attitude and becoming very reasonable on the high way’’.
‘‘One of the measures we have taken is having series of meetings with NURTW, NARTO and other transport bodies that are responsible for these vehicles. Besides that, this period , we are going to have two camps, observatory cabs, one in Kalgo opposite Kalgo hospital where we will station our men, ambulance and also some road signs to do speed checks’’, he said.
‘‘The other place is Kamba road, a major road where frequent crashes occur. The most important thing is that we let drivers know that it is a grievous offence to overload trailers with goods and passengers.’
‘‘Look at what happened recently, there was an accident where twenty cows died, four lives were lost with thirty eight others passengers seriously injured. We are doing our best , but the challenge is that most of the trailers travel at night when traffic and law enforcement officers are out of the road”.
He however appealed to road transport union to encourage members to shun night driving. “It is extremely dangerous if they travel at night. If they travel at day time, if there is any problem, there is tendency we provide adequate response to assist them in any road accident crashes’’.
We have concluded plans to train volunteers on how to respond to road traffic crashes and at least , give first aid assistance , pending when we get there to get victims to hospital for necessary attention.
When contacted on the matter, the Chairman of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Alhaji Sani Dododo, expressed sadness over the loss of lives and property , adding that SEMA will embark on sentisation programmes basically for trailer drivers to create awareness on proper driving codes.
“We are really concerned about it. We will liaise with the road union (NURTW) to sensitise drivers on the dangers of rough driving”, he said.
Dododo who earlier visited victims who survived trailer accidents commiserated with them and also handed cash donations to them, after which he took care of their medical bills , in a bid to alleviate the burden of the suffering victims.
A passenger, Abdullahi Abubakar, who was on his way to the motor park decried frequent trailer accidents in the state. He lamented that the lives of passengers who ply several routes in the state remains in constant danger, unless a drastic measure is taken to address the menace.
He blamed the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the trailer drivers’ union for not taking punitive action against erring drivers.
“I think the nonchalant attitude of regulatory agencies as well as the NURTW, the trailer union, road safety, the police and VIOs that are shouldered with the responsibility of safety of the drivers and passengers to take decisive action is responsible for it.
‘‘They should ensure that the vehicles are properly checked before they travel. They should be concerned about checking the trailers, especially tires, speed range and over loading”.
Abdullahi who further urged the transport unions to cushion their members against reckless driving said, they must stamp their feet against this murder and be ready to also take punitive action against anyone caught wanting.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the state chairman of NURTW, Usman Bagudu to react to the state dilemma, proved abortive as he refused to neither pick calls nor attend to our correspondent who visited his office severally.