AWAAL GATA takes a look at the worsening traffic situation in Abuja
Many people believe that the nation’s capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja because Lagos was not pre-planned as a capital city and was too populated for running administrative activities.
However, due to the hordes of people that troop into the territory every day in search of greener pastures, what spawned the relocation in 1978 seems to be gradually manifesting in Abuja, as well.
Some 14 years ago, Abuja was a sprawling territory of savannah grass land with rising and falling hills and circuitous valleys, beautified by well-tarred roads that were usually empty. But as the country forges on under democratic system of government that is apparently moving the whole country to the territory, the once empty roads have become dreadful for motorists. The feature of civilisation which normally forms the hooves of modern vehicular traffic has come to trample on the smooth roads.
Abuja has three major entry points – Airport Road, Kubwa and Keffi Roads – with heavy traffic dominating these roads, especially in the mornings and evenings, one who has never come to Abuja before will begin to wonder how the city centre would look like considering the number of vehicles trooping in.
Before the federal government started the 10-lanes dualisation of both the Airport and Kubwa Roads, people living in suburbs like Gwagwalada, Lugbe, Kubwa, Zuba and others, were faced with psychological trauma, stress, anger, anxiety and frustration due to daily experiences, and the reactions of commuters from the suburbs were a clear indication that the residents were uncomfortable with the traffic situation.
Sequel to the heavy traffic situations, residents believe that the traffic congestions in the city, which have become a serious menace, would affect easy movement of vehicles in the nearest future if nothing is done very urgently to stem it.
A resident of Lugbe suburb, Mr. Ayo Bashiru, told Blueprint that, although the 10-lane Abuja Airport Road is yet to be completed, it has brought a lot of relief to the people of the area and motorists coming into Abuja from that axis.
He said before the dualisation of the road, he spent almost an hour to come to the city centre, but with the new development, 20 minutes can take him there.
On Abuja–Keffi Road, Blueprint learnt that the situation is entirely different as residents complained of increased traffic jams that give commuters different experience every day.
About half of Abuja’s workers reside along the axis, hence traffic is ticker there than any other roads that link Abuja from other states.
For example, commuters along the Keffi-Abuja Road, which is the only road leading to the city centre from Nyanya, Karu, Jikwoyi, Karshi, Orozo, Kurudu, Gbegi, Gbagalape and other towns like Mararaba and its environs in Nasarawa state, set out to their work stations as early as 5.00 am in order to beat the traffic congestion. The congestion commences as early as about 5.30 am from Mararaba through Nyanya, extending up to Aso Rock Villa junction in Asokoro, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
Some commuters who spoke with Blueprint noted that they spend hours on the road, and the distance should not have been less than 30 minutes drive on a normal basis.
As a result of the 10 lanes dualisation of Kubwa Road, the case is different from those going to work in the city from as far as Suleja in Niger state through Kubwa.
It was also discovered that people on Abuja-Keffi Road suffer more in the evenings while returning to their houses from work. From about 5. 00pm, traffic on this road becomes very heavy so much that it causes the commuters to turn-off their vehicle engines for a very long time in other to avoid overheating. The situation usually becomes very chaotic during the rainy season when motorists approach the junctions.
However, most commuters attributed the menace caused by the hiccup to lack of alternative routes to the city from these towns, resulting from what they described as the fault of those who planned the roads leading into the city. Commuters who are conversant with the road blamed the menace on government inability to manage the situation.
Considering the condition of vehicles plying the road, motorists observed that the situation is not healthy for vehicles as some of them suffer from overheating, breakdown, dents by reckless drivers, and even serious accidents resulting from break failures and loss of control by the driver leading to multiple crashes and eventual killings of some commuters.