Haulage Business is a serious business that requires maximum attention and skilful manager; whereas, there is no haulage company that can record huge success, if any, without good and well managed driver. Before the advent of driverless trucks and drones; the relevance of drivers in the haulage value chain cannot be overemphasized, not only in Nigeria but all over the world. As the industry is relevant to every nation’s economy, so also the drivers are relevant in the value chain such that, without them, most businesses and the economy would fail as a result of social and economic unrest.
In most advanced countries, the government in collaboration with all the stakeholders in product distribution put in place a workable approach to manage drivers. In more organized societies, truck drivers go through rigorous training before they are certified to drive a truck. For example, they have truck driving regulations like the commercial vehicle driver’s hours of service where every truck driver can only drive for a maximum of eight hours and must then take a well deserved rest.
In Nigeria, the situation is not the same. No wonder it is evident that drivers contribute largely to road crashes and other challenges in road haulage. Many truck drivers in Nigeria today are addicted to alcohol. Also, diversion of cargoes and other criminal activities by the drivers is still the order of the day in Nigeria; irrational behaviour as against professionalism is also common among drivers, such that most truck drivers are not reliable. Unfortunately, most of such drivers get away with these criminal acts and still secure jobs as truck drivers in other companies, simply because there is no visibility for truck drivers in the industry. Also, many truck owners do not have a good remuneration and welfare packages for their drivers. This also contributes to their irresponsible and unprofessional behavior.
The ability to manage the drivers in more developed countries has enhanced a hitch free operation for all stakeholders. The job of truck driving in more advanced countries is a respected profession; hence the drivers are seen as professionals.
The unruly and unprofessional conduct and behavior of truck drivers in Nigeria has been of serious concern to all stakeholders in cargo transportation, in an effort to identify solution to this challenge, HAULMACE 2019, which was held on 9th October, 2019 in Lagos recently beamed its searchlight on how stakeholders in the haulage sector can develop an approach to drivers’ management in order to achieve safety and professionalism in cargo transportation in Nigeria.
The keynote speech at the event with the theme “Developing a stakeholders approach to driver management and professionalism for safety in Cargo transportation in Nigeria”, was delivered by the Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi MFR, mni, NPoM.
While assessing the importance of driver in Nigeria economy, the Corps Marshal who was ably represented by the Lagos State Sector Commander, Hygenus Omeje, said of all professions, putting on scale, driver should be ranked one or two, stressing that if the drivers decide not to move their vehicles, Nigeria would crumble largely because the country is 95% dependent on road transportation.
According to the Corps Marshal, human factor (driver’s attitude) constitutes about 87% of the causes of Road Transports Crashes in Nigeria, hence the theme of HAULMACE 2019, which is ‘’Developing a Stakeholders Approach To Driver Management and Professionalism for Safety in Cargo Transportation in Nigeria’’ is apt as it has become necessary for the leadership of various scompanies within the transport industry to consider a new approach that will impact positively on drivers’ behavior.
“The importance of an interactive forum like HAULMACE cannot be over-emphasized. It is imperative therefore to ray the searchlight on drivers in the road haulage and logistics industry while evolving strategies to combat the menace of crashes in Nigeria involving this group of drivers because their involvement in crashes are usually of higher loss magnitude than the other categories of transport operators.
Giving an overview of crashes, using the world Health Organization data, Oyeyemi disclosed that the World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 report has revealed that annual road traffic deaths has reached 1.35 million. The report has also rated road traffic crashes as the leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 5-29 years.
He added that the scourge of Road Traffic Crashes costs most countries about 3% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has been foretold to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030 – if preventive actions are not sustained by the responsible bodies /Governments at all levels. Oyeyemi however lamented that the burden of road crashes is borne mainly by pedestrian, the cyclists and motorcyclists.
Giving the breakdown of crashes that has been recorded in Nigeria; Oyeyemi said “as at December 2018, a total of 9,741road traffic crashes were recorded in Nigeria, this resulted in increase of 3.8% over 2017 record. These crashes include 2,739 fatal cases, 5,849, serious cases, 1,153, minor cases with 15, 501, vehicle involved. Also, 5,181 fatalities were recorded representing an increase of 1.2% from 2017 report.
He said “studies conducted by the Corps also revealed that of the three major causative factors of road traffic crashes (Human, Environmental and Mechanical), human factor – the driver’s attitude accounts for 87%of the road traffic crashes (RTCs) on Nigerian highways. Drivers who habitually disregard traffic rules and regulations remain constant danger not only to themselves but to other road users”.
Boboye however reiterated the commitment of the corps to end cashes in the country. He said “FRSC has been at the vanguard of the campaign against Road Traffic Crashes and its attendant effects. One of its methods is consultations with relevant stakeholders. The Corps is also partnering with International Stakeholders as well as private individuals and organizations in the provision of technical and operational assistance to achieve its statutory mandate. The Corps has headlined several mega-rallies and organized extensive public enlightenment strategies that are focused on ensuring the safe transportation of persons and goods in the country.
“The Corps has also trained and deployed over 169 of its personnel to Tank Farms across the country under the Safe-To- Load programme. The aim of which is to ensure that better road safety culture is imbibed in the industry so as to avert associated loses in RTCs. Nigeria remains on course to achieving the objectives of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety of (reducing Road Traffic Crashes by half by the year 2020). Of recent Nigeria has acceded to 5 additional UN conventions on Road safety bringing the total number to 6. The implication is a renewed commitment to the new global order on sustainable safer travels by road.
The FRSC boss reiterated that the desire of the agency is to have a nation with a transportation system where Road Traffic Crashes will result in zero death.
Installation of Speed limit: To reduce road crashes and ensure maximum safety on cargo transportation on the road, the Corps Marshal urged all haulage companies to installed speed limit devices on their vehicles, stressing that if truck is not over speeding, the tendency of crash and its effect is very minimal. He also stressed that all assembly plant must installed speed limit device on their vehicles.
“The initiative of all fleet operators who continue to comply with the standards and who have embraced the advantages of speed management is commendable. However, many of the articulated vehicles on the road today are still not yet installed with speed limiters. All assembly plants must install speed limit on all their vehicles, he said.
Training and retraining: Professionalism is another major challenge among truck drivers in Nigeria, though not without solution. Boboye however worried about the attitude of many truckers to training and retraining of their drivers.
He said “each time we approach some haulage company owners to train their drivers; we found out that they have the least budget for the drivers. They only think of drivers training after all managers and the managing director himself must have gone for their own training; they have forgotten that the drivers’ office, which is the truck, is more expansive than the MD’s office. They have forgotten that the driver’s office is the reason they are in the business.
“Most of the drivers in the industry today came in through apprenticeship. They were motor boys of yesterday, it is trying by error. Hence there is need for short courses for the drivers. Until they have acquired relevant knowledge, they can’t be professional, that is why they need to be trained and retrained, on a regular basis”, Boboye said.
Compulsory 30 minutes rest: The FRSC boss also called on all fleet owners to mandate their drivers to park after every five hours of driving to rest. He said “the normal thing is that after every four to five hours, driver should park and rest for at least 30 minutes. Fleet operators should embrace this and it will go a long way to curb fatigue which also causes crashes on the road”.
DATA Sharing: Data sharing, according to the FRSC boss, is another move that can help to curb the criminality among drivers. He said “It is high time haulage operators began to share data. Data sharing will prevent drivers marrying today and divorce tomorrow, that is, working in a particular company today and run away tomorrow after committing a crime and still secure job in another company. If haulage operators are sharing data, drivers will know that once they commit crime in one company, they can’t get job anywhere in the country again”.
REWARD & SANCTION SYSTEM, COMPULSORY BIOMETRICS: A potent approach to truck drivers’ management
While it may be incontrovertible that some of the truck drivers in the country are lawless and criminally minded, there are still some of them that are hard working and doing well. While those who commit crime are disciplined, those who do well should also be reward.
It is on this note that some of the notable participants at HAULMACE 2019 have unanimously advocated for reward system for the drivers. Adding to that is the compulsory computation of biometrics of all truck drivers.
The belief is that the drivers need to be encouraged. Those that are doing well need to be encouraged and those that are criminally minded also need to be given positive orientation that is capable of changing them for better.
While speaking on the reward system for the drivers, Oyeyemi said “as much as every erring driver is disciplined and punished, there should also be a reward system for the drivers. There should be a reward for professional Drivers; there should be a reward for excellent service delivery; this will encourage them to do more. Many of the bad ones among them will also change through the reward system”.
Also speaking during the panel discussion, one of the panel discussants, a representative of Lafarge Africa PLC, Mr. Osazemen Aghatise said reward and sanction system is a potent approach that will help to manage truck drivers in the country.
“At Lafarge, safety is our core value. We go through rigorous safety management. If most of the multinationals can do like Lafarge, there would be sanity. It is a continuous process that must not stop. FRSC should also mandate right driver to handle truck and also know the behavior of every truck driver. Then reward and sanction is equally very important. As much as erring drivers are being sanctioned, those that are doing well should also be rewarded”.
“Big companies have a lot to do to change the narrative. Technology should be used to change the narrative, performance management should be explored. Multinationals should partner to make drivers’ management work”, Aghatise said.
On his part, another member of the panel discussants, who is the Lead partner at Eco Test and Training Nigeria Limited, Peter Makris said disclaimer of erring drivers through the surface of newspaper will never stop drivers from engaging in criminal activities.
“Having biometrics of the drivers is very important and it is a potent method to manage the drivers. This is because erring driver that commit one crime in company A can claim another name at company B. so disclaimer on newspaper alone cannot solve the problem. The good approach to it is to have their biometrics.
Also speaking during the panel discussion, another member of the panel discussants, who is the General Manager of BHN, Mr. Adil Doctor said every haulage operator should rise up to the challenge of driver management in the country. He said his organization take the welfare of her driver very serious.
He said “we keep coming up with initiatives that will help to manage our drivers. We keep coming up with different ideas that boost their professionalism. These are some of the things that help us to manage them very well.”
Earlier in his remark, the Convener of HAULMACE, Mr. Alfred Okugbeni, urged haulage operators across the country and the government to work toward a more organized haulage industry where every party in the supply chain ring will benefit without endangering other road users.
Also, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA) Mr. Remi Olaofe said there should be policy that will motivate and make the drivers to do their job well.
He said “one good turn deserves another. Any driver that is doing well should be rewarded, infact, there should be a policy through which the drivers will be rewarded; there should be a policy that will encourage them to do their job well”.
The FRSC boss has however reiterated the commitment of the corps to transportation security through effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders and other sister agencies. Boboye said the Corps is also committed to sustained Road Traffic Regulations enforcement across the country.
He added that the Commission is willing to extending a handshake with stakeholders within the haulage circuit, noting that it will also be willing to partner with them in the aspect of training of their truck drivers for professionalism.
While the government unarguably has vital role to play, stakeholders in the industry should begin to begin to do the needful so as to have a well organized and secured industry.