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Published On: Wed, May 14th, 2014

Checkpoint: FCTA clean up Nyanya corridor as residents, commuters continue to groan

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Traffic JamBy Blessing Ibrahim, with agency report

A team of agencies and departments in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), has embarked on a clean-up of illegally occupied spaces along Nyanya corridor, even as residents, commuters continue to groan over the military checkpoints in the area.

This is coming against the backdrop of the recent bomb explosions that rocked the Nyanya Motor Park, in the area, on April 14, and May 1, 2014, respectively.

The clean-up exercise, done in conjunction with the police, military and other law enforcement agencies, saw the removal of illegal structures within Kugbo Mechanic, Karu and Nyanya bridge.

Meanwhile, many residents of the area continue to groan over buckets of security check points on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway leading to the city centre, thereby stalling traffic for hours on the route.

The concern of many residents of the area is that since the incidents, the checkpoints have continued forced commuters stranded as the soldiers conducted random checks on the cars.

They decried that what many of them thought was a temporary measure compelled by a security intelligence, following the recent double car bomb attacks in the area has continued, and become a routine nightmare for those plying the route every day.

Notwithstanding, prior to the emergence of the checkpoints, the route was notorious for its rush-hour traffic as it is the only road linking the suburb to the city centre, but, the present situation is said to be unparalleled in the history of the axis.

Some commuters told Peoples Daily that though they have rescheduled their departure times from home to four hours earlier; they still reach their work places later than usual.

Now, most commuters plying the road on a daily basis are living with the hard reality of spending three to four hours on the road.

Furthermore, many road users are worried about the difficulties they face in getting to their various destinations, as instead of spending 30minutes on the road they end up spending longer hours in the gridlock.

Even students are not left out, as the also face the same problem because their bus are often caught up in the heavy traffic.

For one Elisabeth Eluja, who resides in Karu, recounted how she reported late at her workplace on Monday, even though she had heat the road early as 6 am, so she could get to her office by 9am because she had a lot to do at the office.

“The heavy traffic this checkpoint causes is becoming unbearable. And I now suspect anyone who is carrying big bags or luggage inside the bus or at the parks, as she no longer trusts anybody; but when I’m caught up in the situation, I always pray not to be a victim,” she expressed.

Similarly, one Josephine Abu, says ; “I boarded a bus the previous day and the drama that unfolded was that a passenger left his bag on a seat and went out of bus , immediately an old man was sitting behind him, upon noticing the bag, asked other passengers who owned the bag and where its owner was? Nobody could give him answers, and then got off the bus to a far distance until he was signaled that the owner of the bag had returned.

A commuter, Musa Isah, who complained how spending hours in the heavy traffic makes him tired, said when he finally arrived the office and less productive.

He expressed dismay at the fact that the check point mounted by the military, describing it as a flimsy exc use of them trying to secure the lives of the citizens.

“It is rather unfortunate that the country spends great deal of money to secure the country, but it appears that this money is not used judiciously, as no equipment for detecting danger or bomb is used to scan the cars, they (soldiers) just stand on the road asking drivers to stop look at the faces in the vehicle then ask them to go.

“If a vehicle is carrying bags garri, they just conduct a random check of the vehicle, but what if the vehicle is carrying explosives carefully concealed in those bags of garri, how will the military know. Do they have eyes that can see through the bags or other hidden compartment of the vehicle?’’

Also, a driver, Emeka Okoro, expressed concern that instead of safe guarding the lives of citizens they are giving the terrorist avenue to cause more havoc, because the gridlock caused by the checkpoint is becoming unbearable; that was why the second bombing happened in the same area, in less than three weeks after the first one.

A commuter, Musa Isah, who complained how spending hours in the heavy traffic makes him tired, said when he finally got to his work place (office) and less productive.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the agencies involved in the clean-up were the Abuja Metropolitan Management Company (AMMC), Department of Development Control, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), and the Parks and Recreation Department of FCTA.

The Coordinator of AMMC, Mr. Reuben Okoya, said the exercise was partly informed by the recent bomb explosion in the area.

“We have been engaged in exercises like this in the past; the difference is that we are being more diligent now because of the recent security challenges in this axis.

“After the recent bomb explosions, the minister came here and ordered that the entire Nyanya corridor should be cleaned up.

“You will agree with me that an open area can be more easily policed than an area which is clustered with slums and shanties.’’

Okoya said that the exercise would be sustained and gave and assurance that the legal occupants in the area would not be affected.

“These activities will last for three days and will take us from AYA roundabout to Mararaba, and by the time we finish, the entire corridor would have been cleaned up.

“We are not displacing any legal occupant, but anybody who illegally occupies an area should not talk about compensation,’’ he said.

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