Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi has outlined steps the FRSC has taken against petrol tanker tragedies in the country, saying concerted efforts are being made by the FRSC to bring the menace of tanker crashes under control.
He disclosed this in his presentation before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream during the stakeholders’ interactive session it organised to find lasting solutions to the menace of tanker tragedies in the country.
According to Bisi Kazeem, Head, Media Relations and Strategy, FRSC in a press release, Oyeyemi said about 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes which have become the leading causes of death among people of ages between 15-29 years.
He pointed out that 50 percent of the World’s fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle income countries and stressed that without action, road traffic crashes could become the leading cause of death by 2030.
“In 2013, a total of 21,199 vehicles were involved in crashes, in which 1,495 were tankers/trailer related, representing 7. 05 percent. The following year, a total of 16, 779 vehicles were involved, out of which 998 were tankers/tanker related, representing 5.94 percent,” he stated.
The Corps Marshal further observed that despite the trending down of road traffic crashes involving all categories of vehicles in the country, that of the tankers was most worrisome to the Corps, because the damage they caused were not only measured in the loss of lives and limbs, vehicles and infrastructure, but spillage of fuel which resulted in fire that constitute huge economic losses.
He identified the causes of the tanker tragedies witnessed in the country last year to include scarcity of petroleum products which created increased demand for vehicles to transport across the country. This he said, led to rampart use of non road worthy vehicles by some drivers.
“Another reason for the prevalence of non-road worthy vehicles on the roads was the prohibitive cost of articulated vehicles,” he stated.
Others factors he identified were unsafe loading/off loading; use of underage and poorly trained drivers to drive these vehicles; poor road infrastructure and lack of rest areas for long distance drivers.
Speaking on the measures taken by the FRSC to address the tragedies, Oyeyemi recalled that that FRSC had to take far reaching decisions following the Onitsha Tragedy of May 2015 when the crashes claimed several lives and destroyed many houses and vehicles, saying the June 2015 National Stakeholders’ Summit organised by the Corps was part of the counter measures. He mentioned other counter measures by taken by the FRSC to include: a special operation code-named, “Operation Scorn” which led to massive arrest of tankers operating without minimum safety standards; embarking on retraining and recertification of the tanker drivers; deployment of FRSC personnel to the tanker farms in Lagos and its environs to enforce minimum safety standards including the “Safe to Load” programme as well as introduction of speed limiting devices enforcement of which will commence as from 1st April 2016.
“Other actions taken by the FRSC were prompt removal of obstructions from the highways; establishment of 24/7 call centre with dedicated emergency number and capacity to respond in all the major languages of the Federation,” he stated.
“Prompt rescue operations with reduced response time from 55 minutes to 15 minutes in line with World Health Organisation’s golden rule and implementation of the tanker/trailer guidelines for operations,” he added.
Still on the counter measures, the Corps Marshal recalled that the Corps increased its tempo of synergy with transport unions and other relevant stakeholders including the Federal Fire Service for prompt joint rescue operations in crashes involving fire outbreaks. “We are collaborating with the National Automotive Design and Development Council to ensure that only standard and road worthy vehicles are imported,” he stated.
“Preparing the draft of Nigeria Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) with robust machinery for general road safety improvement, including mitigating tanker tragedies,” Oyeyemi submitted.
In his remarks, the Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Senator Barau Jibrin stated that the stakeholders’ meeting was called in line with the Motion passed by the Senate last year directing the Committee to investigate the causes of the rampart cases of crashes involving petroleum tankers especially last year. He expressed appreciation to the Corps Marshal for his insights into the actions of the FRSC against tanker tragedies, promising that the Committee will sustain the hearing until all relevant stakeholders were given opportunity to make contributions that could address the tanker tragedies in the country.
Other stakeholders at the hearing were the representatives of the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, Petroleum Product Marketing Company (PPMC) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).