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DEATH TRAP: Trucks turn bridge to parking lot, endanger people’s lives and cause traffic bottleneck

Posted by By TESSY OKOYE on 2006/05/24 | Views: 362 |

DEATH TRAP: Trucks turn bridge to parking lot, endanger people’s lives and cause traffic bottleneck


When the flyover bridge at Berger Under Bridge Bus-Stop, on Oshodi-Apapa expressway, in Lagos, was built many years ago, the intention of the govenment was to make movement within the area safe and easier.

When the flyover bridge at Berger Under Bridge Bus-Stop, on Oshodi-Apapa expressway, in Lagos, was built many years ago, the intention of the govenment was to make movement within the area safe and easier.

Today, that bridge has become a source of sorrow to motorists as truck drivers who take containers to dry-dock terminals in the area have turned it to a parking lot.

The bridge built to serve as a link to the Lagos suburb is now a parking lot for truck drivers, who wait endlessly on queue to offload containers at the various terminals located within the vicinity.

The drivers, who do not have regard for other road users, endanger the lives of people who are sometimes trapped among container-carrying trucks. In the past, many cars had been crushed by trucks carring containers.

The experiences of motorists, pedestrians, residents, and even commercial motorcyclists caught in the traffic snarl created by the trucks have always been that of anger, fear, frustration, and absolute helplessness as they are confronted with situations beyond their control.

Just as other bridges built across the country,people are not borthered about the number of vehicles parked on them. Sources of worry is the danger that might arise from strain and pressure exerted on the bridges by deadweight, especially when one bears in mind that the structure of a bridge is meant for speeding, and not stationary vehicles.
Investigation shows that the initial collapse of a section of the bridge, some years back, was blamed on parked stationary trucks on it.

Mr Rasheed Adekoya, a truck driver, attributed the endless traffic bottle-neck often witnessed in the area to impatience on the part of truck drivers.
According to him, operators of dry duck terminals left drivers unattended to and subjected them to harsh conditions for days or weeks, which he says leaves them frustrated and angry.
He was, however, quick to defend his colleagues’ action: " What decent behaviour do you expect from an angry man left to sleep in trucks for days? Ofcourse, anything can happen," he said.

Another driver, Mr Elonna Ngbi, denied the fact that trucks constitute a problem in the area.
He argued:" How can you say we are the ones blocking the road and parking on the bridge? Where else should we park? You should go and blame the Federal Government. After all, they are the ones that sold the place, we are supposed to drop containers and leave."
According to Mr Elonna, immediately goods are offloaded from a container, the driver is given a permit to drop the empty container at any authorized terminal.

The terminals he said, are usually filled up, leaving the dtivers with no choice than to wait for days or weeks for a ship to berth and pick up empty containers so as to create space.
" Apart from that, the terrible behaviour of terminal officials and the bad shape of the place left for us to park are not helping issues. The place is so bad that we have to be careful while climbing to avoid our containers or trucks falling and causing accident," he said.

One of the naval officers deployed to the area, to help ensure free flow of traffic, speaking under anonymity said that although it has not been easy controlling the truck drivers, he won’t blame them. He pointed an accusing finger at operators of the terminals, who he said are never ready for them.

" When the queue becomes long and you go in to inquire what the problem is, it is either their crane has broken down, or there is no space. And these men are expected to wait for days or weeks, pending when the faults are rectified, by which time they would have become restless and sometimes aggressive.
" As for the bridge, it is a no go area for them, while we are on duty. We know the dangers involved and are ready to forestall that," he stated.
Chief Waheed Sumonu Agubiade, the Baale of Kirikiri, described the situation as a chaotic one that has given him sleepless nights.

" These people have taken over the whole road without considering the interest of other road users. The most disturbing aspect is the bridge on which they park for days. And you know the bridge is not meant for heavy duty trucks with load to park on," he said.
He noted that Berger Bridge, which was reconstructed not quite long, has started showing serious signs of strain.

" I am appealing to the relevant authorities to act fast. My prayer is that nothing of grave consequence happens there", he added.
Mrs Mary Oramunwa, a trader resident in the town, noted that Kirikiri, being a small town, records the highest influx of trucks, which causes untold hardship to residents.

" These trucks are parked in any available space, obstructing traffic and causing accidents. The drivers are reckless and they undermine the fact that the containers they carry are unchained which makes them susceptible to falling off and killing people. I just wish the Federal Government would make a law restricting their movement to only night," he said.
Another resident, Mrs Kate Okeowo, said that although she has become used to the sight of containers, she has never ceased praying for their relocation.

Mr Chris Obido, an electrician, who claims to have been residing in the town since 1979, said the town experienced absolute peace when the only means of accessing the town was through a wooden bridge,but with the advent of a modern bridge, the trucks became their albatross.
" Going to St Paul’s Anglican Church to worship has become a living nightmare. Mostly in the past, I have witnessed terrible accidents caused by trucks. The first concrete bridge collapsed owing to their activities and they are at it again. Naval men are really trying. But the trucks are one fear we have to live with."

Mr Waheed Uthman, a landlord in the town, said that only the government could bring lasting solution to the problem, as solutions proffered during numerous meetings held in the past never saw the light of day.
However, opinions of seasoned civil construction and engineering experts all point in one direction - catastrophe.

According to Mr Amos Ade-Omopeluoye, bridges generally are not designed for heavy stationary vehicles, but for fast moving ones, which helps to stabilize the foundation.
" Stationary load on bridges is considered eccentric which can wreak havoc on the columns of such bridges. This is so because the original design for the bridge did not include such consideration," he said.
Mr Shauibu Akiebe, an engineer with a leading construction company in Benin, noted that a long-term effect of such parking on bridges is deterioration in structure, which would eventually lead to collapse.
Corroborating his assertion, another civil engineer, Mr Femi Shoneye, said that no bridge built anywhere ever included stationary vehicles in its design.

" The only remedy to prevent the collapse of a bridge, which might not be without casualty, is to stop parking on it," he stated.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.