The Sector Commander in the interview spoke about the report of the crash investigation conducted on that particular crash and the detailed road audit the FRSC conducted on the Ota old toll gate on the Lagos – Abeokuta Expressway, which the Sector Commander described as a black spot that has caused road traffic crashes and claimed 33 lives in the last five years
The Sector Commander once again commiserated with the families of the crash victims and commended the Governor of Ogun State Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun MFR for personally visiting the crash site as well as all other good spirited individuals and corporate organisations that condoned over the unfortunate incident
The Sector Commander equally commended all the safety, security and emergency agencies that worked assiduously to contain the unfortunate incident.
The Sector Commander specifically commended the FRSC Unit Commander of Ota, Assistant Corps Commander Akeem Ganiyu who demonstrated professionalism and resilience in coordinating the entire rescue operations, albeit working in an emotionally traumatic situation.
The Sector Commander said Ganiyu lost his father on the morning of the crash and has requested for official pass to be absent from work the next day to travel home and burry his late father , but unfortunately at about midnight the incident happened. Despite the emotional pains of the loss of his father the Unit Commander remained professionally stable and effectively coordinated the crash from 1130pm on Thursday 14 till 0600pm the next day 15 November, 2019 without leaving the crash scene til the entire exercise was mopped up.
RTC INVOLVING TRUCKS AND TANKERS
The Sector Command said considering the strategic nature of corridors in Ogun state being a gateway state, with 40% of the 380,000 vehicles being articulated vehicles, especially trucks and tankers, ,and coupled with the ongoing massive road construction projects characterized with road diversions at construction sites, Ogun State no doubt records road traffic crashes and fatalities that have assumed a worrisome dimension.
REPORT OF THE FRSC INVESTIGATION OF THE OTA TANKER FIRE CRASH
The Sector Commander said that as routine the FRSC conducts investigation of road traffic crashes that caused deaths and destruction of properties . . He noted that one of the most recent crash investigation. is the Ota tanker fire incident that occured on Thursday 14 November, 2019 along the Lagos – Abeokuta Expressway that claimed two lives and injured six persons, although one other injured victim the FRSC Rescue team rescued for medical attention , later died at the Hospital, bringing the total number of deaths from that incident to three. The Sector Commander prayed for repose of their souls and quick recovery to the injured victims
The Sector Commander said this avoidable crash and other crashes in the State would have been prevented if simple safety practices are strictly adhered to.
According to the Sector Commander, from the findings of the crash investigation, there is a great suspicion that the burnt tanker which bore the colours and markings of MRS Petroleum may belong to a Major Oil Marketer in Nigeria “Even though the tanker got burnt , but diligent investigation by the professional FRSC Crash Investigators showed the markings and colours on the burnt tanker ”.
According to the Crash Investigation Report, despite investigation being hampered over the disappearance of the driver of the ill – fated truck and the removal of the number plates of the truck , which would have easily tracked the vehicle to the registered owner, even if the vehicle’s number plate were burnt. Accordingly the FRSC is not deterred by the removal of the burnt tanker’s number plates , as the Corps had explored other insignias found from the burnt truck to identify and track the owners.
The Sector Commander also said a manhunt has been mounted for the arrest of the tanker’s driver to facilitate prosecution and pressing for compensation for the victims of the tanker crash.
The results from the FRSC’s preliminary crash investigation confirmed that the truck on the fateful day was ascending uphill the road leading towards Abeokuta and nearing Sango town from Lagos , but at about 2355hrs (1155 pm) , haven passed the old toll gate , Ota where the FRSC Unit Command, is located. About 200 meters away around Bible College junction besides an abandoned petrol station , the PMS laden fuel tanker with a Mack Truck Head malfunctioned and suddenly stalled while climbing the hill. In a swift attempt to prevent the truck which started rolling backwards, the driver turned the truck in an attempt to use the road median as a wedge to stop the truck, but unfortunately the driver lost control of the truck which jack – knifed and flipped.
The Crash Investigation Report also said , when the tanker flipped , In the process half of the liquidified PMS (petrol) contained in the tanker spilled and the contents flowed through the open drains about 200 meters from the ill – fated tanker’s final resting position, downwards to the old toll gate, Ota. . In the process one of the buses that queued behind the tanker ignited inferno from its exhaust pipe and blew up the entire area covering up to 200 meters on both sides of the Expressway.
The crash investigation report listed the major casualties of the inferno that engulfed as the ill – fated tanker ; 10 trucks and 6 mini buses , totaling 17 vehicles. The FRSC Command located at the old toll gate was also affected as the fire burnt the command’s perimeter fence; two gates: staff canteen and the office sign board. Six casualties were rescued to the hospital, but two unidentified persons were found burnt beyond recognition. Their charred corpses were found close to the old toll gate Ota far away from the final resting position of the ill – fated tanker, which confirmed that neither of the burnt bodies belonged to the driver or assistant driver (motor boy ) of the fuel tanker . One of the rescued casualties later died in the hospital.
Apart from the victims and damages done to the road and environment, the Crash Investigation Report put loss from the crash at a value of over 269 million naira estimated to have been lost to that particular incident.
According to the Sector Commander the crash investigation also confirmed that the crashed tanker as at time of the incident did not observe the safety standards of a ”safety valve” installed, which would have prevented the highly inflammable petroleum contents from spilling.. The Sector Commander said the FRSC has continued to engage operators of vehicles used to convey petroleum products to adhere to the “Safe to Load Scheme” by amongst other standards , install fuel tankers ”Safety Valve” that would not allow tankers that fell while transporting. their contents from spilling . This according to Mr. Oladele is in tandem with the 1957 United Nations Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangereous Goods by Road (ADR), which Nigeria acceded to last year .
The Sector Commander explained further that even in countries with very high road safety standards , petroleum tankers also fall due to road traffic crashes but with the installation of ”Safety Valve Seal ”the contents of the tanker would not spill.
Mr Oladele said the ”Safety Valve Seal” is similar to a cork on the bottle of a plastic water or beverages drinks that where firmly closed the contents inside the bottle would not spill, in the event of the bottle falling .
The FRSC Ogun State Sector Commander wondered why fleet operators would not install the seal valve which is about a million naira to protect their multi million naira investment in oil and gas business which ultimately would preserve the environment from pollution from spilled or burnt petroleum products as well as save lives from avoidable tanker crashes on our roads.
EFFORTS BY FRSC IN MITIGATING TANKER AND TRUCK CRASHES
According to the Ogun State Sector Commander the FRSC would continue to adopt cutting edge processes to educate operators of fleets transporting dangereous goods , including flamable products in tankers as well as other large capacity vehicles like trucks , lorries and luxury buses, to ensure safe haulage transportation.
In Ogun State for instance, the FRSC Management had to establish a Unit command in Mosinmi considering the risks associated with large number of tankers loading fuel at the NNPC Depot in Mosinmi, Ogun State .
In related development the FRSC Ogun State Command , worried by the spate of crashes involving petroleum tankers held series of engagements with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Abeokuta Field Office which culminated to the training of over 500 tankers and other articulated vehicles drivers in April this year at the NNPC Depot Mosinmi and Ogere Trailer Park in Ogun State . The training has continued aimed at reaching others yet to be trained. In similar vein the special operations embarked upon by the FRSC to enforce the Safe to Load Project led to the arrest and prosecution of 120 Tankers and Trucks along the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway.
The FRSC in collaboration with Nigeria Shippers Council is organising joint sensitisation rallies with operators of tankers and other fleet operators across the country. The South West sensitisation rally is scheduled to hold in Lagos on 27 November, 2019. This would also be backed up with diligent enforcemnt to ensure compliance with standard safety practice
RTC RECORDS ON CRASHES AROUND THE OLD TOLL GATE OTA AND MITIGATIONS
According to the FRSC Sector Commander in Ogun State, a total of 140 road traffic crashes (RTCs) were recorded on the about 200 meters strech of the old toll gate Ota,Ogun State on the Lagos- Abeokuta Expressway in the last five years from January .2014 to 22 Oct 2019 (a copy is attached)
The Sector Commander who described that strech as a black spot, said within the same period of the last five years, a total of 397 Vehicles were involved which resulted in 33 deaths with a total of 1,254 persons involved in these crashes .
Within the reporting period a total of 338 injured victims were rescued alive during the period of the last five years.
The Sector Commander said from the FRSCs routine road audits of the Lagos – Abeokuta corridor, are – engineering of the old toll gate area, notorious for frequent crashes was recommended to eliminate the sloppy gradient which usually prevent vehicles, especially articulated vehicles (trucks & tankers) that failed break from crashing into passengers waiting to board vehicles to Lagos or other parts of Ogun State, since it’s a major transit point in Ota, situated by the old toll gate
Mr. Oladele said a comprehensive audit report was prepared by the FRSC and deposited with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, FERMA, the Ogun State Ministry of Works & Infrastructure and other relevant stakeholders to aid decisions
Mr. Oladele said the summary of the audit report is that it examined the major causes of frequent crashes around the area and opined that wholesome traffic re – engineering solution that would seperate motorised traffic from other non motorised traffic especially pedestrians, would remove all areas of points of traffic conflicts that would not allow vehicles to interfere with pedestrians nor allow pedestrians to have any contact with vehicles in transit at that major intersection, would best prevent fatal road crashes.
Apart from filling up the slope , an overhead interchange that would allow vehicles in transit connect the various exit points at the old toll gate intersection , without interfering with flow of traffic , would be most suitable to prevent gridlocks
In addition , Mr. Oladele said all the marker permits issued by the local authorities should be revoked and the markets located besides the intersection should be relocated away , as well as the illegal bus stops besides the road be dismantled with standard bus stops erected far away from where passengers cannot interfere with the flow of traffic .
According to the Sector Commander the Audit Report from the FRSC partly influenced the Federal Government’s decision to award contracts to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, for the rehabilitation of the entire stretch of the corridor from Lagos to Abeokuta.
It is expected that the crashes associated with that stretch of this corridor would be eliminated when the road project is completed
FRSC IS A SAFETY ORGANISATION AND DOES NOT CAUSE CRASHES
The FRSC Ogun State Sector Commander, Clement Oladele, reacting to the publication in some sections of the media that the FRSC was accused of responsible for the Ota tanker crash, based on a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State Governor, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun MFR, the Sector Commander, denied such report claiming that FRSC is a safety Agency with ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification and that FRSC does not cause road traffic crashes but was established to prevent them .
The Sector Commander said he read the report in some sections of the media but dismissed it as untrue and never even bothered reacting , till it festered in both the print and social media with several people drawing his attention to it.
The Sector Commander said he thereafter called on phone the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Ogun State Governor , Mr. Kunle Somorin, who upon picking the Sector Commander’s phone call , exclaimed that he has been expecting the Sector Commander’s call in respect of the publication . The Sector Commander claimed the Chief Press Secretary told him the Governor in the Press Release was misquoted by some sections of the media.
The Sector Commander said he thereafter told the Chief Press Secretary of some statements that were inconsistent with the operations of the FRSC, which after explaining to the CPS, he said he understood, but would forward the exact press release he signed on behalf of the Governor to the Sector Commander.
Mr. Oladele confirmed that the CPS forwarded the Press Release to him and he never saw where the statement mentioned FRSC in her operations caused that tanker crash or any other crash .
The Sector Commander explained that the FRSC Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) on patrol is to first identity an offender and flag same down and ensure the suspected traffic offender is parked away off the road from obstructing traffic. Mr. Oladele even jokingly said that was where the phrase ”park well ‘ which the FRSC was referred to in her formative years, originated from.
The Sector Commander said upon confirming that the traffic offender stopped committed the offence he is issued a citation (notice of offence ticket ) which is like a court summon for the trial of the traffic offences against him but which if he wishes could avoid prosecution by going to the banks or through e – payment platform, REMITAS pay the value into government coffers.
The Sector Commander denied that FRSC operations caused gridlocks, as vehicles apprehended are not usually detained except if a case of dangereous driving or theft of the vehicle arrested is suspected. Usually the offender is ticketed and allowed to go. Another instance that could warrant FRSC impounding a vehicle is when the driver arrested lacks an acceptable means of identification like a valid driver’s license or original of the vehicle’ papers, which are held in the believe that the offender would come back for prosecution or payment of the citations and thereafter reclaim him/her impounded vehicle. Where a decision is taken to impound such vehicle, they are usually kept in safe custody within the FRSC premises
The Sector Commander said there is no way the FRSC’s operations by this SOP could cause any gridlock, since FRSC does not mount road blocks . The Sector Commander said some of the vehicles parked around the old toll gate, where the FRSC office and other buildings are located, are mainly accidented vehicles with some in litigations and kept close to where they crashed by some sister agencies as exhibits.
The Sector Commander said the FRSC in Ogun State would continue to strive to discharge it’s mandates professionally till highways in Ogun State become the safest in West Africa.
Clement Oladele is the Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Commission(FRSC),Ogun State Command