I just got back from a trip to Abuja. I had very nearly driven in a private car to the FCT for an assignment but at the last moment, i changed my mind and in hind sight i am very grateful to God that i didn’t drive. You all know that i love driving but with what i experienced on the trip, i’m still in shock and recovering from …..bus-lag and body-ache.
My first bewilderment was to discover that the bus left the usual Lagos-Ibadan-Osun route and headed for Lagos-Ogun-Ondo-Ore route. We now entered Akure town and bursted out to their airport, then to the expressway before continuing on the usual route to Ibillo.
I also noticed that the driver made a detour and took a back road then we soon came upon a bad portion and he stubbornly beat other cars lined up and put the bus through hell in passing the bad spot. We made it and continued on our way to Abuja. I got to Abuja and made a feeble attempt to return by air, didn’t succeed and somehow i ended up missing my bus and was put in the third bus. Also in hind sight, i thank God for it turned out the driver was very good helped us beat other drivers on the same trip even drivers in his company that left much before we did…..don’t worry, he never beat the speed limits. Driving is not all about speeding.
As we were exiting Kogi State around 11.30am, we passed buses that were just arriving Kogi State enroute Abuja and guess what? They left Lagos the previous morning but were stuck in traffic at Ibillo, Edo State. I now started investigating and realized that that had become the norm especially if your driver is not stubborn and willing to damage his car in passing through the bad portions.
Soon we got to the dreaded Ibillo and all hell broke loose as there was a huge line-up of cars from all angles stuck in a chaotic manner all trying to navigate the narrow one-vehicle-at-a-time back road that has become the alternative to the completely failed major expressway.
Luckily i had a camera ready and i alighted from the bus. Immediately i took the first shot, people were very happy and i started shooting from all angles.
There were hundreds if not thousands of vehicles from all over Nigeria stuck at this singular spot as all routes between Abuja and Southern Nigeria, Lagos in particular had failed. Unless one decides to take probably the Enugu-Nsukka-Abuja route or Onich-ugbo-Edo-Kogi route.
As i kept taking pictures i saw some heavy-duty vehicles afar along the major expressway all very stuck, infact very stuck with no help in sight for their rescue.
I saw one trailer already turned and now facing back to Abuja but blocked by the sea of vehicles that came from Abuja and other Northern states. I interviewed the driver who was visibly distressed. His words were shocking as he revealed that he got to that spot yesterday 5pm from Jos, but soldiers refused him from taking the alternative route unless he gave them N2,000 bribe. He pleaded that they took N1,000 since he was going far so he doesn’t get stranded but they refused and he ended up spending the night at that very spot but had now succeeded in turning around to head back to look for other routes less distressed or go back to where he came from. But he tried taking the bad spot they forced him to take and got stuck till another truck pulled him out before he turned around. In his words, “government should please fix the roads”, they are not begging for anything more but fix them so there won’t be accidents and delays.
I not walked through the alternative route and saw the cause of the present issue. A trailer belonging to Dangote Industries Plc stuck so oncoming and going traffic had all stopped and lots of people had assembled to assist the trailer pass through the bad spot. The motor-boys of the trailer resorted to scooping Gypsum from their consignment and pouring on the slippery, muddy dirt road so their truck could gain traction and make it through.
This action nearly became impossible even as loads of the Gypsum being transported ended up being poured on the road so it could become abit motorable.
I succeeded in interviewing a female passenger in a cab from the opposite direction. She was coming from Ondo State but told me with what she was experiencing, she will stop over and look for where to pass the night at Okene, Kogi State as she was going to Sokoto State. The worse part was that she had little kids with her and the kids were already suffering in the heat, dust and dirt.
Luckily, soon the stuck trailer was freed and it came roaring past. The arising jubilation from all there could be equated to what could be witnessed at a football match.
A female resident seeing me with camera started taunting me jokingly so i also decided to interview her to get the pulse of residents and her response was chilling.
She informed me that the noise from the vehicles travelling just by their windows every second of the day does not alow them sleep well. That their only road has also now being damaged, some cars had hit their houses prompting them to drop wooden barricades to deter vehicles fro running into their houses after some incidednts had occurred. But the most appalling aspect was that her aged mother had been beaten in the past by some road users especially truck drivers who she told not to pass through that road.
Just like others, she also implored the government to as a matter of urgency fix the major roads so that all these unnecessary incidents would be a thing of the part.
Lending my voice to theirs, i strongly recommend that the Minister for Works, his Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Works should drive from Abuja to Lagos to see that truely, there is no more any connection between both capitals. They can have as much security as they love but just make the drive.
It is embarrassing that the road from Lagos to Abuja had been in a state of complete disrepair for as long as i can remember.
Many other roads are in this same condition all over the country but this Lagos -Abuja route is critical as most food stuff and other goods and services are exchanged through this road.
Dear Hon. Minister, please people are dying, are been robbed, falling sick simply because they are travelling by road, miss out deals due to missed schedules not including the countless accidents that arise from these bad roads.
Sadly most of our decision-makers never travel by road rather they fly so never appreciate the struggles of the average Nigeria but together, we can get the government to do those right things they owe us as a government so we too will have the right frame of mind to pay and remit taxes to government coffers.
So it would be fantastic if they can go from Lagos to Abuja or Abuja to Lagos by road and see things firsthand.