by Obinna Akukwe
Since the unfortunate Nyanya Bus Park bomb blast which Boko Haram have claimed responsibility, residents have complained about the unnecessary hours spent on traffic occasioned by military checkpoint which gave the impression that they are an unwanted politically cursed appendage of Federal Capital Territory.
The military checkpoints have reduced the normal four-lane traffic on Abuja-Keffi Road to a one-lane affair and recently due to adjustments by the Defence Headquarters, a slow moving two-lane gridlock is still being experienced..
Driving from Makurdi to Abuja during the Easter week, I encountered the hold-up and spent close to three hours between Mararaba and Nyanya Bridge before I could reach my destination inside the city. The next day, having an assignment around Keffi, I left Abuja around 8 am and was excited that vehicular movement between AYA through Abacha Barracks was free flowing but having reached the Nyanya Bridge the level of traffic gridlock witnessed was demoralizing and frightening, spanning through to ‘One Man Village’ and some residents later told me that at times the gridlock reaches Masaka and they stay up to 7 hours bottled inside. On my way back same day, I was in that traffic snarl from 2.30 pm to 7.30 pm, a 5 hour period. The next day, I spent three hours back through that road and on Easter Sunday, I spent two hours forty five minutes between Mararaba and Karu Bridge, despite that day being work free. Afterwards I cancelled whatever took me to that axis till common sense returns to the situation.
It is obvious from the positioning of the checkpoint that the powers at Abuja are more interested in their own safety than the safety of residents within that axis. There is no checkpoint to protect residents of Nyanya-Mararaba-Masaka axis from the rampaging terrorists but the one to protect the Emperors at Abuja is well fortified. The checkpoint was positioned at the border lines between the outskirts and the city ie Nyanya and Karu Bridges-giving the impression that these residents are the problems of the powers that be at Abuja. Impliedly, the ancestrally and politically cursed residents of Nyanya-Mararaba, who are not actually wanted in the El Dorado City of Abuja, must be stopped, searched and frisked properly before they infect the entire beautiful capital with their curses, poverty and Boko Haram Virus.
Inside Nyanya Mararaba and Masaka lie the lower class, middle class and upper middle class of civil servants who actually move the nation’s administrative system forward. The drivers, cleaners, clerks, officers and even some Directors of Ministries, Departments and Parastatals have made their abode in this axis to avoid the cut throat cost of rent inside the city. Nyanya axis also has many wealthy residents contented with living a low profile life while contributing immensely to the development of Abuja and the nation.
Apart from Karu and parts of Jikwoyi, governments have refused to invest massively in infrastructure in those areas. Mararaba and Masaka, though under Nasarawa State jurisdiction, have suffered untold neglect. In the midst of all these- some Boko Haram terrorists blew a hell out of their lives and the powers at Abuja used military checkpoints to compound their problems.
Due to hours inside hold-ups, the cooling systems of many vehicles have overheated; top gaskets got burnt, engines got knocked and hapless motorists faced with compounded problems. Equally, vehicles that exhausted their fuel and gas portion inside the traffic are being forced to either buy 2 litres of fuel from peddlers at N1000 naira or park by the side of the road awaiting help from nowhere.
It is obvious that the situation is a big security risk to the entire motorists and passengers on that road. God should be praised that the terrorists have not deemed it fit to catch in on the situation to inflict more harm. Federal Ministry of Information and the Defense Headquarters have asked for understanding. Residents have complained that there is nothing to understand and that the soldiers should invent other means of tracking vehicles with arms, ammunitions and explosives without creating a worse security risk.
Treating the residents of Nyanya-Mararaba-Masaka axis as though they are ancestrally and politically cursed is not good for their psyche. The military should invest on high-tech tracking equipment and mount such on that road such that any vehicle with arms, ammunitions or explosive materials could be detected and stopped while other motorists move about without much let and hindrance. Treating the residents like politically and ancestrally cursed animals will soon be counterproductive, especially in an election year.
Obinna Akukwe can be reached at [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.