One of the most popular markets in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, is located in Karmo, about seven kilometres from Jabi junction.
Expectedly, it is held every Tuesday and traders usually troop to the market from Abuja metropolis and its immediate environs. That translates to huge human and vehicular traffic the moment one leaves the Jabi Airport Junction flyover and descends to Gwagwa axis.
Based on this, Karmo road gets busy every Tuesday as most residents from different locations in the FCT visit it to make their purchases or sell different wares.
Apart from Tuesday, the market also holds on Friday but it is mainly for those who want to buy or sell fairly used clothes, shoes and others, otherwise known as ‘Okirika’. It means that except for the main market day which is Tuesday, the road is less busy on other days and a visitor may not know the kind of traffic gridlock he/she may be subjected to if he/she were to use that road on a Tuesday.
For residents of Karmo and its suburb, the ordeal they are usually subjected to every market day is better imagined than experienced. A worker that fails to leave Karmo before 6am will hardly get to the office at the Federal Secretariat by 10am.
Apart from the vehicular traffic, the dilapidated state of the road and its narrow nature also constitute a problem. Those residing in Kado, Life Camp, Karmo and Gwagwa continuously grapple with traffic jam every market day.
In fact, the minimum time somebody from the fringes of Kado could spend on the road linking Karmo is 30 minutes and that is if the traffic is moving.
Findings by Friday Magazine revealed that similar roadblocks usually occur every Wednesday in Nyanya because of the market and the same goes for other satellite towns that have special market days.
A resident, Mr. Onyemauche Kalu told our correspondent that the kind of roadblock they usually experience on every market day scares them, especially now that the country is experiencing terrorism.
“Anytime I am stuck in traffic on every Karmo market day either when going or returning from my working place, my mind is never at rest because anything can happen at any moment, especially now that Boko Haram insurgents are terrorising the country.”
A trader at Karmo market said the gridlock they usually face on every market day is normal.
“I am not surprised to see this kind of traffic in Karmo because it is one of the features of a popular market. The traffic jam that people are complaining about here is nothing compared to with what we face at Nyanya market. Most traders usually leave for the market as early as 6am in order to avoid traffic jam, even the retailers do the same,” Rahma Ibrahim disclosed.
However, a taxi driver, Mmadu Ifeanyi, who usually plies that road every market day conveying passengers from Wuse bus stop to Karmo, said he makes a minimum of four trips during peak hours.
According to him, for an inexperienced driver business is usually dull. We know some short cuts and may not actually carry passengers all the way to the market. Because of patronage, we do not hesitate to increase fares, especially from Jabi to Karmo market. You never can tell what N50 per head can amount to at the close of the day’s business when we have to take stock or make returns to the owner of the vehicle.”
Another taxi driver said, “From Wuse bus stop to Karmo last gate is my route but I always avoid the road on Tuesdays because it slows down my business. Before the market day, we usually make between 10-11 trips, but because of the huge traffic on Tuesdays I am hardly able to go four trips. So, I have decided against plying that road on Tuesdays. I prefer to conduct my business on other roads and resume there in subsequent days,” he revealed.
Mrs. Rose Kelechi said “I buy food items there because they are cheaper compared with other markets in the town. The only thing that discourages me most of the time is the unpredictable roadblock that may even last between 20-30 minutes.
“Another thing is, even when one manages to go there, I find it difficult to park my car because the parking spaces are inadequate. So many people visit the market as it is popular and things are cheaper. Though it is always overcrowded and the traffic unpleasant, but I still prefer to do my shopping there. I try to reduce my stay in traffic by leaving very early. In fact, last week, I got to Jabi junction before 7am and a friend directed me to a near-by compound where I parked my car at the cost of N150 for four hours and then joined public transport to the market,” she said.
Another resident, Mrs Chinelo Iheme, disclosed that “the traffic gridlock is mostly caused by impatient drivers. They take advantage of every little space only to end up obstructing incoming drivers. Sadly, because of their impatience and non-adherence to basic traffic rules the road is usually clogged within seconds. Unfortunately, the traffic wardens are not very helpful. They often turn a blind eye after collecting a token from recalcitrant drivers.’’
According to her, the policemen are notorious for encouraging bad traffic behaviours along Karmo-Gwagwa road. “All you need to be convinced is to come to Karmo on a market day and casually observe what the policemen on duty along that road do. Sometimes, people even think that the presence of the policemen contribute to traffic gridlock. Though a handful of them attempt to assist, but majority often constitute nuisance, especially whenever they leave the responsibility of controlling traffic to chase after drivers that may have failed to pay their usual ‘tollgate’ or use their stooges to block any commercial vehicle that fails to comply.”

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