The Ikeja and Mainland Chapters of the National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity have urged the Lagos State Government to quickly come to the aid of those who suffered losses in the recent tragedies that took place in the state.
The association noted that on June 19 and 29, 2018 respectively, a truck conveying plywood while on the Ojuelegba Bridge in Lagos State emptied its contents on passersby below, killing three persons and injuring two in the process.
It said 10 days later, a fuel-laden tanker on Otedola Bridge at the Ojodu Berger axis of the state, again spilled its contents causing a fire incident that killed nine persons, injured four and incinerated over 54 vehicles.
The Capn of Zanas Deck (Lagos Mainland), Arinze Odiari, and the Capn of Panama Deck (Ikeja), Mr Godstime Awoze, commiserated with the state government and families of those who lost loved ones in the preventable twin tragedies.
In a joint press statement in Lagos, the group however reiterated that these two accidents could have been totally prevented if government’s regulatory agencies were alive to their responsibilities.
They demanded a full scale investigation into the fuel tanker explosion and the unravelling of the owner of the tanker and if found culpable made to pay compensation to victims while facing prosecution in line with the extant traffic laws of the state.
The statement noted that Lagos State is regarded as the economic hub of Nigeria with its huge population but they are shocked that after several of such accidents, government is yet to focus on the development of the rail system within the state to minimise the incidence of such colossal nature.
They called on government to take immediate steps to restore the rail system in the state, while urging the Federal Ministry of Transportation to rise beyond propaganda and bequeathe to Nigerians a viable rail system that would facilitate the movement of goods across the country by the end of the tenure of this administration in 2019.
Part of the statement read: “While we are aware that trucks must continue to ply Lagos roads for now, regulatory agencies like FRSC, LASTMA and Ministry of Transport Lagos State should brace up and do their jobs to ensure such trucks pass the road worthiness test. Without mincing words, some of these trucks are not mechanically certified to be on the roads and some of the drivers are not even licensed and qualified to drive such trucks.”
The association commended the state government for issuing a 30-day ultimatum to truck drivers to obtain road worthiness certificates. It however urged the state government not stop there but must bring defaulters to face the full weight of the law.
According to Arinze, “We know that NUPENG the umbrella body of petrol tanker drivers are notorious for calling for an industrial action at the slightest opportunity to blackmail regulatory agencies and government in order for them to softpedal on enforcement of violations of rules but this time around if they try this old trick they should be prepared for a class action.”
On his part, Awoze urged the government to call their bluff and ensure that all rules and decisions to reduce the incidence of fuel tanker/truck accidents on Lagos roads are enforced.
He also advised the state government and its regulatory agencies to take urgent steps to address the genuine complaints of articulated vehicle drivers on their refusal to ply designated routes due to constant harassment by area boys.
In conclusion, they appealed to the federal government to decongest the Lagos ports by making the others ports in Warri and Port Harcourt viable for cargo ships conveying petroleum products to berth.