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Published On: Tue, Nov 4th, 2014

Why Abuja residents neglect pedestrian bridges

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here is no doubt that ensuring that Abuja residents make proper use of pedestrian crossings or overhead bridges within the Federal Capital City (FCC) has become an inexorable tough task for the FCT Administration especially its Transportation Secretariat.

Ordinarily, it is safer to use a pedestrian crossing or an overhead bridge whenever one is available especially as the roads are very busy nowadays in the city, but still many residents in the nation’s capital are not willing to use the bridges, when crossing major roads in the Territory.

Unfortunately, for the few residents who patronize them, they are faced with inconveniences from illegal activities like roadside trading (hawking) and begging, including misdemeanor by miscreants.

Consequently, there is increasing rate of some pedestrians are killed, with many more injured or maimed for life.

Surprisingly, this development had lingered on, even with repeated assurances by the FCT administration that it has established machineries to tackle the menace head-on.

According to the Administration, it has mandated the law enforcement agencies including Vehicle Inspection officers to work seriously on addressing the issue.

It still baffles several observes that despite the construction of pedestrian bridges in the FCT ,some residents still preferred plodding dangerously when crossing busy roads in the city, than using the pedestrian bridges where available.

Some said that the fact remains that part of the reasons for the total neglect or wrongful use of the pedestrian crossings, is that some residents are ignorant or refused to understand that they pedestrian bridges are meant to ensure their safety when crossing major roads to cross, not punish them.

A cross section of residents, who shared their views on reason why people prefer road crossing busy express roads, thereby neglecting a handful of pedestrian crossings and overhead bridges.

A resident, who was seen along NICON junction, said Mr. Sendi Longs, “We are Nigerians, and I don’t why we love disobeying laws, some people do not really know why they should take a pedestrian while the want to cross a major.

“Vehicle have been killing people, that’s was why government had brought the idea of constructing pedestrian crossings. But if people must stop complaining about the location of these facilities, as they should know that trekking is part of physical exercise to help them keep fit.

He said that people really needed to be educated, because a lot of people seem not to know the benefits ofusing those pedestrian bridges.

“Crossing the road directly is faster for me, than using the pedestrian bridges, which comes with a lot of stress , as one gets tired easier, leaving pains in ones legs .

“The bridges are so high and the steps are too many, I had to count the staircase one day while climbing one of them, they were about 86 in number, that’s too much for me, so I it’s better to run across the road to the other side.

“It is faster and energy saving, as the bridges are built so high ,while walking when you look at cars down ,you feel dizzy,” so expressed another resident at Banex junction, Uloma Okafor.

He said, in building the pedestrian crossings government did not considered Physical challenges Persons.

He therefore noted because of the failure factor in the interest of the disabled ,traffic warders be stationed at strategic places along busy roads, to always stop vehicles for physical challenges persons to cross, while the government should religiously ensure that residents use the available pedestrian bridges when crossing the roads.

Similarly, a physical challenged person, Nehemiah Sule, noted that climbing the pedestrian bridge remains a herculean task and clumsy for him and individuals likehim.

“At times especially in the evening people are so choked ,we get stress up ,so crossing the road directly is preferable ,than going through the stress of climbing the bridges.

“Crossing the roads directly have its own disadvantages, as when crossing you may calculate that cars coming are far way, but before you could realize they are very close. Most cars on express road come with speed and hit you. So it is risky, but for people like me, taking pedestrianis not always even more dangerous to our health.

“But Government should always consider us while constructing these bridges and other useful things that will help thecitizens,” he stressed.

Not left out, a civil servant, Usman Jubril, said road safety signs like the zebra crossing is not even use in the country, as most people are always in hurry to get to their destinations, irrespective of what the law is.

“Using the zebra crossing, most motorists are not patient to allow pedestrians crossing the road, as they drive their cars close to the safety lines.

He advised individuals to be careful why relying on the Zebra crossings where there are no pedestrian bridges, as some drivers are nonchalant, so they hit some individuals because everyone wants to beats the traffic.

Jibril said people in FCT need to be sensitised people on various road safety measures- whether it is the use of pedestrian bridge or the zebra crossing.

He however added that the government should make it mandatory for people to know that once they don’t use any availableoverhead bridge or the zebra crossingthere will be penalty or mobile court persecuting them.

For Peter Osakwe , to tackle the issues of abuse of pedestrian crossings , the governments must enforce drastic measure by implementing rules that will go a long way to motivate residents to start using the facilities.

“For me I love using those bridges because no one should tell me that I needed to protect my life. Even as stressful as the staircases are, I still prefer using them for my personal safety.

Furthermore, one Odianosa Fregene, noted many people erroneouslyfeel it was easier for them to cross the road rather thanuse the pedestrian crossings, as they look at the distance of the bridges and think it isawkward, without Knowing the damning consequences involved while doing otherwise.

She reiterated that Governments should create more awareness to let residents know the benefits of not crossing the high ways directly

Also, a builder, Miss. Helen Ibrahim, emphasized that the design of the bridges are mainly built for the safety of cars and the pedestrian.

“We construct all bridges so that people would not be endangered while using the roads, because their safety is most important.

“The neglect of pedestrian crossings can be addressedonly if the FCT administration collaborates with vital agencies to enlighten the public about the pedestrian crossings.

“Pedestrian laws has been enforced by the Lagos state government, it can also be replicated here (Abuja) by the FCT administration, by commissioningsome people that will force defaulting individuals to comply with the use of the pedestrian bridges.

” Traffic warder, VIO and Road safety need to be more strict on the use zebra crossing to also reduce increasing death rate from avoidable road mishaps,” she stressed.

Also,Head, Public Relations of FCT Transportation Secretariat, Ifanyi Ughamadu, said there are many overhead bridges without encumbrances, “So I don’t why pedestrians, should not use the bridges where they are available.

“If the bridge is not available and one decides to cross roads, it would be understandable, but where the bridges are available, you don’t have reason not use them.”

As a way out, he disclosed that the FCTA has since embarked on construction of barricades near the bridges, to force people to stop crossing the road directly without using them.

“For instance, in Area 1 where we have provided a pedestrian bridge, we have gone a step further by constructing some barricade a kilo meter front and back from the bridge, to dissuade people from crossing the road wrongfully.

“But, we find out that in most cases, even as we barricade the bridges people still go and open up the barricades, and create an opening where they will sneak through rather than use the bridges to cross major roads.

“It is a very disturbing trend, but we are not resting on our oars to tackle the menace, because once we caught anybody doing such, of course the law is there to take care of such persons,” he stressed.

Continuing, he added, “We find out that most people, who are supposed to use these pedestrian bridges, are not using them because of these illegal activities on top of them. We have received reports of people being attacked on top of the bridges by all these miscreants. So we are working seriously on that.

On issue of location of the bridges being far from bus stops, he said the concern is being addressed by the secretariat through synergy with transporters in the city.

“We are trying force operators of high capacity vehicles to drop passengers close to where we have these pedestrian bridges. Because it would unwise to drop passengers a kilo meter away from where the bridges are actually available.

“If you notice, now most of these high capacity vehicles normally discharge passengers close to these bridges.

But dismissing the allegations that the bridges are very far from junctions where the pedestrians are heading to, he said, “We don’t construct over-head bridges just like that, but we take a lot of things into consideration; we look at the length of roads; various interjections etc.

“We construct a bridge where there is a need for one. For instance, between National Assembly headquarters and Area 1 we have a pedestrian bridge there. So, people in the area are supposed to walk a little distance that it is just about half a kilo meter and access the bridge.

“The bridge must not just be sited where you wants it, if not we will have more than ten bridges within just a short distance.”

The PRO therefore pleaded with residents, not to see the pedestrian bridges as a profitable avenue for their businesses, as it is not supposed to be so, because they are forcing other people not to use the brides.

He stressed that the bridges are not meant for activities like trading, begging and misdemeanor by miscreants, but it is only meant for purely for purpose of ensuring safety of people crossing major roads in the Territory.

“We have gone severally to all the notorious ones, where illegal activities are taking place- to round up the miscreants doing some businesses on top of bridges, and we have taken them to our Mobile courts to be tried.


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