At least 60 people lost their lives in various accidents involving cars crashing into roadside markets in the last three months, a compilation by PREMIUM TIMES shows.
The incidents in most cases occurred when vehicles rammed into markets due to brake failure, killing buyers and sellers.
Despite repeated tragedies, federal, state and local governments have done little to relocate markets close to busy highways or make them safer for users.
While some traders in Ile Ife, Osun State, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, said they were aware of the risks involved in doing business in such risky locations, they argued that they continued to use those markets nonetheless because their wares had more exposure and they enjoyed more patronage.
“I was happy when we got the approval to be having a weekly market here. The income I make here in a day cannot be made in the shop where I pay heavily for yearly rent. All you need to have a stand here is buying a ticket from the LCDA officials and that’s all,” Labake Ayeni, a trader in Ile Ife said.
Like her, another trader, Iya Ruka, said she travels from Ibadan on a weekly basis to sell at the market. Even though she is aware of the possibility of vehicle ploughing through the market, she said she believed that “God will not allow evil to happen to her. The God I serve cannot disappoint me.”
Loss of Lives
PREMIUM TIMES findings from various news reports revealed that vehicle crashes into roadside markets killed 60 people between August and October 2020 in Nigeria.
On October 31, a truck ploughed into the roadside market after suffering brake failure, killing 16 people in Akungba-Akoko, Akoko South West Local Government of Ondo state.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the truck loaded with rice ploughed into a market while coming from Ikare-Akoko axis when it rammed into the market.
On October 31, a roadside market accident also occurred at Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, killing 10 people including school children.
Residents thereafter called on the government to immediately intervene in the Nkwo junction, where the accident happened, by relocating artisans doing business there and erecting speed breakers on the narrow road, to avert further occurrence.
On September 23, a tanker explosion in the Felele area along the Okene -Lokoja -Abuja Highway, claimed 23 lives and burnt 10 vehicles, including roadside market buyers and sellers. Aside from these, there have also been reports of trucks falling on roadsides affecting lives and properties.
Seven people were killed on October 11 following a roadside market accident along a busy highway in Benue State.
Joyce Akura, a spokesperson of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in Benue, said the accident involved two vehicles, a truck and a Toyota car, with 12 passengers along the Ugbema-Adikpo.
For the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the best solution to the repeated accidents and death is to stop the approval of markets by the roadsides. The Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, urged administrators of local governments in the country to relocate markets from the highways.
In a statement by Bisi Kazeem, the corps spokesperson, eradicating highway markets will help the existing operational efforts of the FRSC towards enhancing the safety of the entire motoring population.
A safety expert, Biodun Egunjobi, said highway markets persist over the decades because of the failure of the government to take responsibility for setting up markets in more convenient places and secure venues away from the highways.
“Based on studies, about 50 per cent road accidents are some way or the other related to highway and roadside markets. While it may be difficult to stop the occurrence of road accidents, we can curb the rambling highway and roadside markets,” he said.
“Before approving markets, the local governments officials need to always conduct feasibility studies regarding the safer locations well-connected by wider and multiple communication accessibility away from the busy highways. These locations may be unused government lands that are well-suited for markets.
“The people and the government must know that with incessant deaths, it is high time we ushered a new era in relocating the highway markets.”
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