It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon sometime in the month of July when it happened. The truck driver had been away for close to 1week on a delivery job that had seen him haul a dead weight cargo of 40tons all the way from Lagos for delivery at Uyo in Akwa-Ibom State of Nigeria.
Everything about the journey up till that moment had been perfect: cargo had arrived destination in perfect condition; cargo had been safely offloaded without any complaint; truck had given the least challenge on the way; the usual harassment from local government touts and route rodents had been very minimal. Hence for the truck driver, it was indeed a very wonderful journey that was going to be a prayer-time reference for other trips.
And wonderful it was until he responded to that flag-down coming from a professional colleague working with another haulage firm but obviously having some challenges with his truck just a couple of kilometers before the road leading into Ijebu-Itele town off the Sagamu-Benin highway. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have stopped if the friend had not been in a fix. Earlier when he drove past Ore, a number of his own colleagues also on a return-leg of their various trips had wanted for him to stop and join them in some light refreshment but he had rejected the tempting invitation. He simply wanted to get back to the yard as fast as possible and take some time off to be with his family before proceeding for the next trip.
And so he stopped and parked on the road shoulder which could barely contain the width of his trailer. A decision he was going to regret for a long time to come!
He was just a few meters from where the friend in distress parked his truck when he heard shouts that were hardly coherent simultaneously followed by sound of screeching tyres terminating in a loud crunching of metals! For a moment, he was torn between taking a dive into the bush by the road or simply bringing his tall frame flat to the floor! He stood transfixed where he was for some seconds until the sight of his friend running towards him brought him back to reality. His friend drew his arm and pulled him along as he ran towards the rear end of the truck he had just parked.
What they both saw on getting to the rear of the truck gave both of them the scare of their lives. Right before their eyes was a commercial vehicle that had been badly battered from the effect of running into a stationary trailer after veering off the highway probably from brake failure or some form of momentary negligence. A number of people were trapped inside and blood was literally everywhere. They stood where they were, not knowing what next to do. By this time however, a number of other vehicles had parked and traffic was already building up on both sides of the highway. Many people spontaneously joined the rescue effort and in no time, officers from nearby police post arrived the scene.
Five (5) people were in the vehicle; all were seriously hurt while two had completely blacked out.
All said and done, the victims received first aid treatment at the local hospital in Ijebu-Itele. The two victims that were unconscious regained consciousness but had to be referred to a bigger general hospital in Lagos for more comprehensive treatment.
The vehicles were all towed to the Police Station in the town. While the commercial vehicle was a complete write-off, the damage to the truck was very minimal but it was impounded for close to three weeks by the police. The driver was detained for 3 days and released on bail subsequently. The Police at a point filed a court case against the truck driver citing a case of illegal and dangerous parking at an unauthorized location but the swift intervention of some other parties rested the case. The owners of the commercial vehicle absorbed their loss.
For the truck driver, he had just learnt the hard way that wisdom and expediency is required in every situation; even when it comes to helping a fellow in distress!