No fewer than 40 street hawkers escaped death by the whiskers when a pedestrian bridge located in Ikire, Irewole Local Government Area of Osun State collapsed on Tuesday, May 23.
The bridge, which was constructed in 2002 at the Ikire junction of Ibadan-Ife Expressway, caved in after an articulated truck conveying earthmoving equipment rammed into it. The bridge was said to have been constructed to check the incessant death of pedestrians crossing the busy dual carriageway.
As time went on, witnesses said, hawkers trading in fried plantain chips popularly known as “dodo Ikire” found a trading post under the bridge. On the fateful day, the hawkers numbering about 40 were having a peace meeting a few metres away from the bridge when the incident occurred.
According to witnesses quoted by Nigerian Tribune, the articulated truck belonging to a construction firm was carrying a big excavator when it got stuck under the bridge. It was in the process of trying to continue its movement that the bridge caved in on the truck.
Speaking on the incident, the Secretary of Akire-in-Council, Chief Soji Akinwale said, “The saving grace for the traders under that bridge on Wednesday was the crisis between the Yoruba and Igbo traders which was being settled in meeting not too far from the spot of the accident.”
According to him, “Some leaders of the National Union of Roads and Transport Workers (NURTW) and the people were holding a peace meeting with the traders when the truck pulled down the pedestrian bridge. If they were under the bridge as usual, selling their wares, the casualties would have been terrible. We thank God no life was lost to the incident.”
However, two years earlier, no fewer than seven persons were confirmed dead when a pedestrian bridge at Dorayi quarters, Kano collapsed. According to the State Police spokesman, ASP Magaji Majiya, who confirmed the incident at the time, the bridge collapsed on a taxi passing underneath.
Pedestrian bridges throughout the world are constructed at strategic points to help pedestrians cross busy highways without having to risk their lives dodging speeding vehicles and reckless drivers. However one looks at it, pedestrian bridges are built to ensure the safety of commuters.
But such perception may gradually be getting eroded by the increase in pedestrian bridge collapse. This disturbing trend coupled with the nefarious activities of hoodlums who lurk around the bridges to rob unsuspecting pedestrians could render the bridges useless if left unchecked.
A safety professional, Mr Temitope Mudele blamed the Ikire building collapse on lack of a journey management plan of action by the company that owns the truck.
Defining a journey management plan as a plan used by logistics companies to plan transportation of goods and services, Mudele noted that not having it could spell danger.
Furthermore, he said it was not right to blame the government in this situation, adding that the Federal Road Safety Corps should share a part of the blame.
Mudele, who is the HSE Manager at VACC Technical Limited, said, “Many people have been blaming the government. The government doesn’t need to be blamed but its agency in respect of Federal Road Safety Corp should be blamed.
“We should have Federal Road Safety Corps (officials) on that road. Aside the agency, the company in question should actually take the blame.
“Why will they be taking an articulated vehicle to pass that kind of bridge? I believe they don’t have a journey management plan in place, and if they have a journey management plan in place they should have identified that bridge as an obstacle and so they would prefer taking another route.”
“I’m always amazed seeing the law enforcement agencies always on Third Mainland Bridge (Lagos) being in a rush to go pick their boss at the airport.
“If they have a journey management plan, they will know the bridge is always heavy with traffic.
“A journey management plan helps you to plan your journey. In case there is an issue on the route, they can take another route,” he said.