Frequent truck crashes with casualties at Kugbo, a sloppy stretch on the Abuja-Keffi Road, has left motorists and commuters in a state of panic.
Although there is a restriction order on trucks coming into the city from 06:00am to 10:00am and moving out from 4:00pm to 09:00pm, sometimes the truck drivers flout the order.
The latest incident which occurred last Sunday involved two heavy trucks, as the breaks of a BUA cement ruck failed and it rammed into a Dangote truck.
One person was confirmed dead while four others were injured.
However, concerning the accident, the FCT Director of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), Wadata Aliyu Bodinga, said the trucks did not breach the rule.
Bodinga said, “The traffic is usually one-way pattern, because, normally the traffic is stiff in the morning on the lane coming into the city, while in the evening, it is on the lane going out of the city. Unlike other cities in the world, our style of traffic is different.”
But the wreckage of the crash blocked the road and caused gridlock for several hours, although it was on a Sunday when the road is usually free.
Some motorists and commuters who spoke to our reporters expressed fear of plying the road, stressing that the heavy trucks should be banned from plying the road during the day to avert them endangering other road users.
A motorist, Onu John, said the authorities were supposed to ban the drivers of heavy trucks from plying the road.
John said, “The way this accident happened means that the road is not safe. The authorities need to revisit their effort to see how life-threatening crashes can be averted.”
Another motorist, Adamu Mai Lafiya, said, “Kugbo is very dangerous. It is a hillside and most vehicles have brake failure when descending. The fear is that anytime such thing happens, it will affect many people, especially when heavy trucks are involved.
“Since this incident happened, motorists and passengers are afraid because the same event happened last year and many people died.”
A commuter, Hudu Usman, urged law enforcement agencies to restrain articulated vehicles from plying the road by day.
Usman said, “I will also suggest that trucks undergo checks before plying roads to ensure they are roadworthy and they don’t imperil the lives of other road users.”
Another commuter, Sarah David, expressed misgivings; that the authorities responsible for enforcing the restriction might have been overwhelmed by the personalities of the owners of the trucks, since they appeared to be in a helpless situation.
A witness to last Sunday’s crash, Abba Dan Borno, said the two trucks ran into two other cars which had earlier collided.
Dan Borno said, “Before the BUA truck bumped into the Dangote one, there was a crash involving two cars which had caused traffic blockage. The Dangote truck first came onto the scene of the initial crash and as it tried to apply brakes and dodge the cars, the BUA truck had brake failure and rammed into it.”
Dan Borno also said a Wolkswagen Golf 2 caught fire and commuters helped to put out the fire with the BUA cement which spewed out on the road.
Another witness, Sam Usulor, said soldiers, personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) and other commuters jointly quenched the fire and rendered aid to the victims.
Usulor said, “One person on the BUA truck lost his life at the scene while the occupants of two affected vehicles sustained injuries.
“Since the incident happened on Sunday, there has been serious traffic jam along the road. The Dangote truck was moved out of the road because it was not damaged like the BUA truck which its engine, gear and prime mover all detached from the tail.”
It was gathered that the four victims were immediately rushed to Nyanya General Hospital and the deceased was deposited at the Mararaba Medical Centre mortuary.
Bodinga, who admitted that it was difficult enforceing 100 per cent compliance from the trucks drivers, said the DRTS was going a step further to have signposts on the roads indicating the timing and penalty for defaulters.
He said, “Some of them may claim that it is their first time of coming to the city and that they are ignorant of the directive. FCT is probably the only city that has such directive, so some may tell you that they are coming from other states and that they do not know about the directive, but we all know that ignorance is not an excuse before the law.”
The Director of DRTS, Bodinga, explained that the penalties for breaching the time of movement ranged from N50,000 to N100,000 depending on the number of offences.
He said, “When arrested, you have to pay the fine while we keep the vehicle in our custody.”