Rains: Abuja residents at mercy of taxi drivers, Okada riders




Like many other Nigerian cities, Abuja, the seat of power, is currently experiencing rainfall. TOPE SUNDAY in this report writes about the experiences of some FCT residents.

In the last few weeks, Abuja has been experiencing persistent rainfall and residents, who are not mobile, are not finding it easy to catch up with their appointments or to go to work even at the mercy of taxi drivers and Okada riders.

Abuja as Nigeria’s capital   

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% 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.

Influx of people

Abuja, which is the seat of the federal power, is now home to many Nigerians because of its various opportunities and economic viabilities. A check by Blueprint Weekend’s investigation revealed that many Nigerians and foreigners alike have reportedly turned Abuja to their place of economic survival.

However, this medium can reliably report that the city is experiencing the influx of many Nigerians on a daily basis. Though the rationale behind their action is not yet ascertained, their relocation might not be unconnected to struggle for survival.   

 Also, investigation by this reporter showed that some of them either troop to Abuja for either 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.

Keke, Okada bans

In the FCT, transportation, according to an unconfirmed source, is cheap but aside from the cabs that are operating legally, Okada and Keke have been banned since 2018.  In 2018, the immediate past Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Ciroma, re-echoed the ban on commercial motorcycles (Okada) and commercial tricycle riders (Keke) in some areas in the FCT.

Ciroma, while meeting with the National Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association (NATOMORAS) and the Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Owners and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN) leadership, asked them to comply with the ban on operating in the city centre and stick to operating in the satellite towns as earlier spelt out by the administration.

 Ciroma, who was also the chairman, Ministerial Joint Task Force, said it had become necessary to remind associations because the order on the ban of commercial transportation remained under enforcement. The commissioner of police told the groups to see beyond the commercial benefits of their business and contribute their quota to making the capital city of Nigeria worthy of emulation.

“My brothers, the aim of this meeting is for us to give ourselves another opportunity to listen to each other and advise ourselves on how to cooperate with each other. As the head of this team, I would like us to stick to those areas earlier designated for operations. This has, however, become necessary because we are beginning to witness some of your members flaunt the law,” he said further.

Residents’ sordid experiences

For Abuja residents who are not mobile, they may likely have horrible experiences during the rainy season and susceptible to the dictates of the cab drivers and okada rivers while the rain lasted. This reporter also reports that some of the cab drivers, Keke and Okada riders reportedly hike their fare during rain, while some of them would refuse to ply longer routes.

This medium also gathered that places that are taken for N100 on an ordinary day are charged between N250 and N300 during rain, while cab drivers reportedly also hike their fares.

A resident of Abuja, Haruna Isa, told this reporter that during the rainy season in 2019, he boarded an Area 1 bond commercial vehicle at Kabusa, a suburb of the city, but rain started immediately and the vehicle zoomed off.

“In 2019, I experienced a very nasty experience and I was drenched from head to toe. I left my house at Kabusa, a suburb of Abuja for Area 1, but as soon as our vehicle zoomed off, the rain started and we got to Area 1 under the bridge.

“When we got to Area 1 under the bridge, there were waiting commercial cars and I took another car to NICON junction, till we got to the place, the rain did not subside and I was forced to alight and stood under the NICON Bridge for almost one hour.

 “While this was going on, some of the commercial drivers hiked their transport fares from N50 from the junction to MTN Area in Maitama to N100 while some of them blatantly refused to go.

Another resident, John Olatunji, who resides at Katampe village, another suburb of Abuja, said Okada riders in his area would charge between N250 and N300 during rain.

“Charging about N100 per cent of the normal transport fare during rain is not a problem, but some of the Okada and Keke riders will refuse to even carry you during rain. Some of them will not put up with some attitudes that are nor encouraging. In most cases during, they are selective,” he said.    

   

A resident of Jahi 2 in Jahi district, Abuja, Patience Sunday, said in her area, Okada and Keke riders are usually delighted during the rainy season. She said they were into a brisk business, alleging that they would hike their fare from N100 to N150 or N200, while ‘Environmental,’ which goes for N50 from Jahi junction, would move to N100.