Concerned about the multiple fatalities recorded during road traffic crashes involving trucks and fuel tankers, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, recently announced proactive measures to curtail such accidents after a meeting with stakeholders in road haulage business.
Part of the new measures is a ban imposed on the importation of haulage vehicles above 10 years from their dates of manufacture from January next year, the mandatory certification of haulage vehicles twice in one year as well as the use of safety valves by tankers at loading points.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), at separate fora in Abuja, also announced plans to purchase acolysers to test levels of alcohol intake by tanker drivers before allowing them to ply the roads.
However, even though it acknowledged the fact that there was the need to set safety standards for trucks plying the roads, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners has faulted restriction imposed on importation of haulage vehicles that are above 10 years from their dates of manufacture on the premise that the policy will throw some truck owners out of business.
The question on the minds of many is how relevant government agencies would enforce some of these laws, knowing full well that these laws are not new; enforcement has always been the problem.
Responding to the fears raised over enforcement of mandatory certification of all haulage vehicles twice in twelve calendar months and the ban imposed on importation of haulage vehicles exceeding 10 years from their dates of manufacture, FRSC public education officer, Bisi Kazeem, said truck drivers without mandatory vehicle certification will be enlightened on the need for periodic checks and thereafter could be booked or arrested if they fail to comply.
According to him, FRSC officials are not allowed to operate inside the port to enforce the January 1 deadline restricting importation of vehicles above 10 years from their dates of manufacture, but that such vehicle drivers would be arrested for flouting government policy during routine checks on the roads.
He explained further that the FRSC would monitor and ensure standard speed limiters are installed in all haulage vehicles in Nigeria, adding that tankers without safety valves and the required number plates will henceforth be barred from loading.
The Safe-To-Load programme would, according to him, continue to be enforced by relevant agencies at all loading points.
Kazeem stated that all the relevant agencies: Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), FRSC and other relevant agencies will soon harmonise the operating safety requirements at all tank farms.
He disclosed that FRSC officials would be positioned to conduct periodic checks of haulage vehicles at relevant loading points.
According to him, the payment of National Transportation Allowance (NTA) and bridging claims to tanker operators will henceforth be contingent on compliance to minimum safety standards.
“Continuous public enlightenment by FRSC and other relevant stakeholders should be conducted at all loading points of haulage vehicles and their rest areas,” he declared.
Kazeem stated categorically that Federal Highways (control of dimensions, weights and axle load of heavy duty goods transport vehicles) Regulations (2018) and loading limit would be enforced as approved by government.
The Corps public education officer also stressed that haulage vehicles conveying hazardous materials must be clearly labelled in conformity with the law.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that the federal government has promised to work closely with the Bank of Industry and other financial institutions towards the establishment of a Fleet Acquisition Renewal Scheme for haulage operators.
However, the chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Mr. Remi Ogungbemi, said that the 10-year age limit imposed on haulage vehicles importation by next year would force existing truck owners, who may wish to replace their fleet, out of business as prices of haulage vehicles below 10 years from their dates of manufacture had skyrocketed.
He noted that truck owners were disadvantaged in terms of access to obtain loans from banks for fleet acquisition, adding that if it is true that government intends to work with Bank of Industries, (BOI) and other financial institutions by establishing Fleet Acquisition Scheme for haulage operators, it will no doubt reduce the harsh impact of the truck importation ban.
Meanwhile, the FRSC has reeled out plans to curtail the driving of vehicles under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Towards this end, FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, recently met with a team of Beer Sectoral Group (BSG) led by the chairman, Mr. Jordi Borrut-Bel, and both parties discussed the implementation process of a Memorandum of Understanding which will catalyze the provision of Breathalyzers to enable the Corps run a pilot scheme for its patrol teams within Kaduna, Lagos and River State commands of the Corps.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that the pilot scheme was expected to focus on training of FRSC personnel on Driving under the Influence (DUI) projects, acquisition and deployment of Alcholizers for testing DUI, enforcement of DUI by field operatives and monitoring of enforcement of DUI.
Other aspects of the programme of action are: commencement of Drive Alcohol Free (DAF) campaign; FRSC/BSG meeting with FRSC stakeholders in the DAF campaign; FRSC/BSG to conduct survey on the six geopolitical zones on the DAF campaign; enlightenment of drivers and other road users on the dangers of drink driving; and deployment of billboards on strategic routes across the country with “don’t drink and drive” messages.
On his part, the chairman of BSG assured the Corps of their readiness to comply with FRSC standards and lead by example by preaching the need to install speed limiters to its members.
He equally gave assurance of his group’s readiness to collaborate with the FRSC in the campaign against drink driving.
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