EditorialTime to End Avoidable Train Accidents in Lagos

Time to End Avoidable Train Accidents in Lagos


The fatal accident involving a train operated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and a Marcopolo passenger bus belonging to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) of the Lagos State Government last Thursday morning was clearly avoidable. The early morning accident, sadly, led to the death of six civil servants and injuring 79 others.

The victims were on their way to work in the government-owned vehicle before disaster struck.

The stubborn driver of the staff bus is said to have thrown caution to the wind as though on a deadly mission, ignoring warnings from passersby as he ran in the way of a moving train with reckless abandon at the PWD level-crossing in the Ikeja area.

By the time the train, which was on its track came to a stop, the bus had been mangled and dragged along the rail track.

Although the bus driver escaped unhurt and was arrested by the Police, the havoc his careless action had caused was quite unimaginable. It was therefore a gory sight that early morning by the rail track as rescue and emergency aid workers tried to pull the victims of the accident out of the wreckage of the bus before rushing them to the nearby Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

We are glad that the Lagos State Government moved in quickly with all the necessary assistance and information on the unfortunate incident, just as a three-day mourning period was declared with flags flying at half-mast across the state to mourn the dead and honour those injured and still receiving treatment at different hospitals in the state.

The condolence message from the Federal Government is also heartwarming, more so, the resolve to investigate the accident. The decision is surely an admission of the fact that the absence of an important infrastructure must have also contributed to the unfortunate incident.

Moreover, the latest accident in Lagos is just one of many that had been caused by the failure of the NRC to provide adequate infrastructure and signals at its level-crossings across the country. Only a few months ago, an accountant with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) met her untimely death when her car was crushed by a moving train at a level-crossing in Abuja.

Similar accidents were also recorded at different times in the past in the Agege and Fagba rail crossing in Lagos State, resulting in unnecessary and avoidable loss of lives. It is very sad and worrisome that the Railway authorities which had spent so much on its facilities and rail tracks across the country would find it difficult to provide barriers at its various level-crossings, thus putting the lives of Nigerians in danger.

While the NRC might consider victims of such accidents as trespassers on its right of way, we expect a responsible organisation to stop playing the victim in most cases and consider doing the needful by providing barriers to block any unruly vehicle driver whenever a train approaches the level crossings.

While we share in the pain of the Lagos State Government over this unnecessary loss, we want to encourage the state government to compel the NRC to provide barriers manned by security men at all its rail crossings in the state in order to put a stop to the frequent fatal accidents .

The state government should also, as a matter of policy, conduct psychiatry and mental stability tests on all BRT drivers in the service of the state and also conduct background checks before engaging the drivers. Recent cases of BRT drivers getting involved in activities considered to be criminal are an indictment on the recruitment process of drivers into the service of the state.

We believe that every Nigerian has the right to life and a responsible government, whether at the state or the federal level, must protect this right. It is only an irresponsible government that would continue to look the other way when the lives and property of its citizens are being taken out unnecessarily due to carelessness and failure to do the needful as is now happening at railway crossings across Nigeria.

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