• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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The scourge of fallen fuel tankers on Nigerian highways: A call to action

The scourge of fallen fuel tankers on Nigerian highways: A call to action

By Ime Enang

Nigeria has been grappling with a recurring issue of fallen fuel tankers on its highways, resulting in devastating fires, loss of life, and damage to properties. The frequency and severity of these incidents have raised concerns among citizens, policymakers, and stakeholders in the transportation sector. This article examines the frequency, impact, and measures to prevent future occurrences, drawing from global best practices and current gaps in Nigeria’s approach.

According to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), there were 1,531 tanker crashes in 2020 alone, resulting in 535 fatalities and 1,142 injuries. The majority of these incidents occurred on highways, with Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt being the most affected areas. The data reveals a disturbing trend, with an average of four tanker crashes occurring daily.

Impact of fires:

The impact of fallen fuel tankers is felt most severely by those in the vicinity. The fires that follow can spread quickly, engulfing nearby vehicles, buildings, and even entire communities, leading to:

-Loss of lives and injuries

-Damage to properties and infrastructure

-Environmental pollution from spilled fuel

-Disruption of economic activities and livelihoods

-Psychological trauma for victims and their families

Gaps in current practice:

While the FRSC has implemented measures to address the issue, gaps remain in:

-Enforcement of regulations and standards

-Vehicle maintenance and inspection

-Driver training and education

-Road design and infrastructure

-Emergency response and fire suppression

Best Global Standards and Remediation:

To address the gaps and prevent future occurrences, Nigeria can adopt global best practices and implement the following measures:

-Stricter regulations and enforcement:

Adopting international standards for tanker design, maintenance, and operation.

-Regular vehicle inspections:

Implementing a rigorous inspection regime to ensure compliance with safety standards.

-Driver training and education:

Providing comprehensive training programmes for tanker drivers, focusing on safety and emergency procedures.

-Road design and infrastructure:

Upgrading highways and installing safety features like crash barriers and emergency lanes.

Emergency response and fire suppression:

Enhancing FRSC’s response capabilities and investing in advanced fire-fighting equipment.

Another possibility is to limit the movement of tankers and heavy trucks to 12 a.m.–4 a.m. daily as a measure to enhance safety on our roads and highways.


-Reduced traffic congestion:

By restricting tanker movement to off-peak hours, we can minimise interactions between tankers and other vehicles, reducing the risk of accidents.

-Improved visibility:

The nighttime hours provide better visibility for tanker drivers, reducing the likelihood of accidents caused by poor visibility.

-Lower risk of fire:

With reduced traffic and improved visibility, the risk of fires resulting from tanker accidents has significantly decreased.

-Enhanced enforcement:

This restriction allows for more effective monitoring and enforcement of tanker movements by FRSC officials.

-International best practices:

This measure aligns with global standards, where hazardous materials are often transported during designated hours to minimise risks.

Proposed implementation plan:

Collaborate with tanker owners and operators to educate them on the new restriction.

Conduct public awareness campaigns to inform all road users of the changed regulations.

Deploy enforcement teams to monitor compliance and sanction violators.

Review and adjust the restriction as needed based on data analysis and feedback.

By adopting global best practices, addressing gaps in current practices, and implementing remediation measures, Nigeria can reduce the frequency and impact of these incidents. The FRSC, in collaboration with stakeholders, must prioritise safety and take decisive action to protect lives, properties, and the environment. Only then can we ensure safer roads for all.

Ime Enang, Executive Director, BD Foundation:

(BD Foundation is the development arm of BusinessDay Media and can be reached through [email protected])