By Stanley Onyekwere
From all indications, there might be an end in sight to the seemingly unending traffic gridlock, daily subjecting commuters to nightmarish experiences, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following the recent opening of Southern Parkway for use by motorists.
However, the Southern Parkway road, which is mainly one directional, and does not provide for driving in the reverse direction, is designed to complement the Northern Parkway, the major arterial running across Mabushi.
Available checks revealed that the Southern Parkway, in the Abuja Master Plan forms the major spine of the Capital City and one of the longest Abuja roads from the Central Business District traversing all the four phases of the Federal Capital City with facilities like streetlights, recreational, café centres and under passes among others.
Almost always, there is increasingly traffic build up especially at peak hours in the mornings and evenings due to influx of vehicles and humans into the nation’s capital city, thereby resulting to creation of clusters of chaotic scenes on major roads in the Territory. But, with the opening of the road, following its substantial completion, the prevailing unsavoury outlook of the traffic situation is poised to be thing of the past.
As it stands, vehicular movement on the Southern Parkway would be in one-way rotational mode, and as the cultural spine of Abuja, is a road complex traversing four key roads in the city’s main business districts of Garki and Central Business District with a complex network of access ways connecting Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
Unsurprisingly, to ensure that motorists adhere to its proper usage, the FCT Administration has already commenced comprehensive enforcement activities on the road. And unlike before, prior and after opening the road for strict useage by motorists there have been massive publicity and public enlightenment campaigns to properly guide motorists.
Speaking while flagging off the one-way directional road traffic on the Southern Park Way, FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, who described infrastructure in Abuja as second to none in Africa, commended the efforts of engineers of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and SETRACO, the contractors handling the project, for a job well done while urging the contractors to expedite efforts to ensure 100 per cent completion of the project.
Bello explained that in the last few years, the FCT Administration had spent a lot of time and resources towards the completion of major arterial roads within the city while expressing joy that most of them have reached a level of completion and could now be opened to the public.
“This is one particular project on which we have spent enormous amount of time and resources because without completing this project, the northern and southern sectors of Abuja would not be connected. We’ve allowed traffic movement for the last few months just to allow construction to continue. But we have reached a certain milestone where we will now start enforcing the one-way traffic system.
“I’m so pleased to say that the partnership between the FCDA and SETRACO Nigeria Limited has been very beneficial to the city because I’m sure all of you know that the twin bridges were concluded about the same time and you can see how these bridges were able to link the northern and the southern parts of the city.
“For us, this is a very important project. It also underscores the cardinal principle of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, which is infrastructure, because the way that Nigeria is growing and cities like Abuja are growing, if we do not complete major infrastructure projects, it will affect our economic development,” the FCT Minister said while conducting Journalists round major points of the road.
While charging residents of the city to use the infrastructure provided by the FCTA properly, the Minister also thanked the Senate for approving the portion of the Federal Government foreign loans that affect the FCT.
Furthermore, the Minister adds: “they approved two very important projects- the continuation of the phase two of the Abuja Light Rail project as well as the widening of the Greater Abuja Water Works. These are all very fundamental legacy projects, the benefits of which we will see in many years to come. And if you look at what President Muhammadu Buhari is doing with emphasis on the road, rail and telecommunication infrastructure, you’ll find that this is the foundation of any meaningful development.”
Similarly, the FCDA Executive Secretary, Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin, noted that the series of conflicts being experienced on the road is as a result of motorists moving in the wrong directions, said officials of the Road Traffic Services as well as the FCT Transport Secretariat have been deployed to the road by to ensure compliance. He also advised motorists to pay adequate attention to the road signs that have been placed on the road as guide.
“First and foremost, you will see that a lot of signage have been placed along the road. This has been there since December. We have had this in place for people to understand that eventually, this is the way this movement will be.
“Eventually, when the bridge is concluded on Muhammadu Buhari Way, you can move over there and crossover up to Nnamdi Azikiwe, which we call Ring Road One. If you want to do a U-turn and come back for whatever reason, you can do at the traffic light and then you also come in through the other side of it and then you can head on to ICRC and on to the other FCTA Headquarters.
“So, from now on, we are urging that people should be very observant. These signs have been there long before now. So, it’s meant for motorists to take note of them and make sure that you don’t move in the wrong direction,” the FCDA boss stressed.
On her part, the Acting Secretary, FCT Transport Secretariat, Mrs. Alice Odey- Achu, while noting that the directional signs which have been placed on the road for several months should be adequate guide for motorists, reiterated that officials of the FCT Transport Secretariat would be on ground to show motorists the correct way in case they miss the directional signs.