Rains: Abuja residents and mobility challenges

Abuja City gate

The rainy season comes with a lot of goodies, however, it bring a big challenge for some people, especially regarding their mobility. In this report TOPE SUNDAY examines how some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who fall within this category are coping.

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially those who live in the suburbs, are faced with the mobility challenges when it rains because of the roads, which are not tarred.

Some of them who are not mobile rely heavily on commercial motor cycle better known as okada, while those who are in the city are constrained by non-availability of cabs during the period.

FCT layout

According to Wikipedia, Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is the eighth most populous city of Nigeria.

The city, which is located in the centre of the country within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), replaced Lagos, the country’s most populous city, as the capital on 12 December 1991.

Abuja’s geography is defined by Aso Rock, a 400-metre (1,300 ft) monolith left by water erosion. At the 2006 census, the city of Abuja had a population of 776,298, making it one of the ten most populous cities in Nigeria (placing eighth as of 2006).

According to the United Nations, Abuja grew by 139.7 per cent between 2000 and 2010, making it the fastest growing city in the world. As of 2015, the city is experiencing an annual growth of at least 35%, retaining its position as the fastest-growing city on the African continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world.

Also, as of 2016, the metropolitan area of Abuja is estimated at six million persons, placing it behind only Lagos as the most populous metro area in Nigeria.

Massive entrance into Abuja

Abuja, which is the seat of the federal power, is now home to many Nigerians because of its various opportunities and economic viabilities.

Blueprint Weekend check revealed that many Nigerians and foreigners alike have turned Abuja as their place of economic survival.

This is as the city is experiencing the influx of many Nigerians daily, though the rationale behind their action was yet to be ascertained. However, their relocation may not be unconnected to the struggle for survival.

Further investigations revealed that some of them are either trooping to Abuja for either the government pay job or to survive on their own.

Despite their influx into the city, the expensive nature of Abuja has forced some of them to relocate to the suburbs or villages around the city of Abuja.

Mobility challenges

Our correspondent’s check also revealed that before the rains commercial drivers in the territory had stylishly hiked transport fare with a little adjustment, though okada and tricycles operators better known as keke drivers did not.

It is common knowledge that some of residents of FCT suburbs, who are not mobile, depend on okada riders for movement to the main roads but in some cases they are at the mercy of the riders, who inflate transport fares at will during when it rains.

Blueprint Weekend can reliably report that both keke and okada riders make mobility difficult for some residents when it rains as they wilfully hike their fares, or decline to pick them to the main road.

Also, some commercial drivers equally hike fares at night when it rains making it difficult for some residents to move around easily.

Residents’ experience

Our correspondent reliably gathered that Abuja residents who are not mobile were likely to have horrible experiences during the rains because they were usually at the mercy of keke and okada riders who call the shots and take advantage of the situation.

This medium also gathered that places that where they ordinarily would charge N100 could be hiked to as high as between N250 and N300 when it rains.

A resident of Abuja, Kazeem Hakeem, sharing his experiences rainy season with Blueprint Weekend said he boarded an Area 1 bound commercial vehicle at Kubwa, a suburb of the city, and when the rains started the driver immediately zoomed off.

“When I reached Area 1, we had to alert from the vehicle, and I was unable to proceed further because the rain was heavy. I was under the Area 1 Bridge until the rain subsided, and some cab drivers were not ready to carry passengers.

“Also, okada riders would not work. When the rain became lighter the few okada riders that resumed work hiked their fare from N50 to between N100 and N150. I intended to go to Durumi for a visit, but having wasted my time, I had to make a U-turn.”

Another resident, Abdullahi Olatunji, who resides at Katampe Village, another suburb of Abuja, said okada riders in his area would charge between N250 and N300 during the rains if they decide to work.

“Charging about N100 per cent of the normal transport at night and during rain is not a problem, but some okada riders will refuse to even carry you. Some of them will put up with some attitudes that are not encouraging. In most cases, during the rains they are selective,” he said.

Also speaking, John Adejoro, who resides in Jahi 2, a suburb of Abuja, told our correspondent that in his area okada riders were into brisk business during the rains; even as he added that during heavy rains they would not work.

He said during the rains, aside from the inflated transport fare, some okada riders don’t work, while the keke drivers would hike their fare.

Adejoro said in most cases he stayed at home when it rains to avoid the stress of getting stranded.

Adejoro, an electrician, further said that during the rains, the okada riders would hike their fare from N100 to N150 or N200, while ‘environmental’ which goes for N50 from Jahi Junction, would move to N100 or N150.

He said: “Despite the proximity of our village to the main road, okada riders are fond of jerking up their fares in the morning and at night, and it becomes worse during the rains.

“In Jahi 2, in the morning, okada riders would insist on carrying Jahi junction or Next cash and carry for N150 or N200; and while when it is raining they would insist on the same price or decide not to carry passengers.

“Some of them will not work, and those who will work, will hike their fare. If rain subsides, you may spend up to one or two hours at Jahi 2, and this gives both keke drivers and okada riders the opportunity to hike their fare. This is some of what are experiencing during the rainy season.”

Similarly, a resident of Jikwoyi another Abuja suburb, Benjamin John, said though on a good day okada riders would carry passengers from Phase 2 to Phase 3 for N100 in the morning but during when it rains the price would change to between N150 and N200.

He said at night when it rains okada riders, who decide to carry passengers, would collect N600 from Jikwoyi Phase 3 to Nyanya Motor Park, noting that in most cases most of them would not work.

“In our area, we don’t experience price surge in the morning, but okada riders inflate their price at night, and the same thing happens when it rains. “The usual Phase 2 to Phase 3 which costs N100 on ordinary days goes for between N150 and N200 during. But at night, we are faced with challenges or difficulties because if the number of okada riders and keke drivers are fewer then some of them would be selective despite hiking their fare,” John said.

A recent visit by our correspondent to the Keke Park beside A.A. Rano Filling Station at Jabi during the rains confirmed that keke drivers hiked their fare during when it rains.

A trip to Jahi 1, Kado Kuchi, and Jahi Junction, which was usually N100 during ordinary days, was hiked to N200.

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