Lives have been lost in Abuja not because of health related issues but accident related, as a result of growing portholes in both federal capital city and its satellite towns. Ezeh Fred writes on its challenges on motorists.

It is surprising that the management of the federal capital territory, FCT, has gone on “official slumber” thus abandoning their primary duty of managing a world class city like Abuja, which is privileged to serve as the seat of Nigerian government. Also worrisome is the deep and obvious portholes in virtually every corner of the city that is causing a costly damage on the cars plying the roads, and in some cases untimely terminate the lives of Nigerians using these roads to commute to and from work on daily basis.

Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, whose officials occasionally ply these Abuja city roads has either turned blind eyes on these roads, which ought to be pride of Abuja, or have deliberately refuse to act on it, thus endangering the lives of motorists using the roads. Driving from one end of the city to another, motorists are compelled to drive with utmost care to maneuver their way against the daily increasing and expanding deep potholes, or manholes, which the past FCT Administration had blamed on scavengers, thus exposing the roads to several deep openings without appropriate attention.

Funny to note that while the potholes on the roads in Abuja city center gets deeper by the day, the ones in satellite towns are worse because of the substandard nature of the road at initial construction, as well as the neglect that some of the roads have been subjected to over the decades of its use. However, findings have revealed that FCT Administration has either turned deaf ears or paid little or no attention to the several calls to salvage FCT motorists whose lives and vehicles are in serious danger as a result of the bad condition of the roads. Also, some motorists have attributed the increasing potholes in virtually all the roads to corruption, especially when a contractor would deliver a substandard work to the people, and the government through different supervising ministries and agencies would approve the payment. Some residents said that the blame should not be on the contractors alone, but the contract awardees that collect larger percentage of the contract sum, thus leaving them little percentage of the money to the contractors to execute the job. However, as a city with daily influx of people from different part of the country and the world, many lives have been lost as a result of an avoidable accident due to these potholes, especially among first time visitors in the city who neither expect potholes on the beautiful roads nor know their different locations, so as to avoid them.

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Every morning, the officials of the Federal Road Safety Corp, FRSC, Police and other sister agencies, will be struggle to remove vehicles which have either somersaulted upon suddenly running over the potholes or have been thrown into the nearby bush or drainage trying to avoid the potholes. A road traffic official who pleaded anonymity at the popular power house junction in Asokoro, Abuja, said that he has witnessed several accidents caused by the deep potholes along that junction and that of deeper life junction, as well as others within Asokoro and other part of the city center. He observed that most of the accident at that junction, especially at night was as result of the potholes.

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“Most of the times when I had to resume work early, I will be greeted horrible incident of either a smashed vehicle, or one thrown off the road, as the driver is trying to avoid the pothole. Indeed, it has become a death trap for motorists, and the earlier the authorities respond to it the earlier lives of motorists will be saved” he advised.  A commercial motorist, Mr. Kehinde Segun, reminded our correspondent that apart from the abandoned potholes in the roads in the city center, there are other several bad portion of roads along Abuja-Keffi expressway and even the recently constructed AYA-Kubwa-Suleja road, resulting in the lost of many lives on the road.

“Between Mogadishu barracks and Karu Junction, on your way to Nyanya, is a dead zone to new driver on that road. Several potholes which have received no attention by the appropriate persons have resulted in the loss of lives of motorists”. Mr. Segun expressed worry that the current city managers lack the competence and political will to manage the city, especially as regards the life saving system. “It may be because of paucity of fund, but no matter what, the maintenance of city that would result in to improved health of the people ought to be given priority” he suggested.

Nigerian Pilot metro caught up with a visitor, Mrs. Thelma Grace, who expressed disappointment with the level of decadence and depth of incompetence of the federal capital city managers. She said: “Am highly disappointed with what I have seen in the past few weeks that I have spent in Abuja, unlike what I saw in the past few years that I visited. It is indeed a clear sign of bad city management. “Dirt everywhere, over grown grass on the streets, dilapidated infrastructure, dark night, insecurity, hooliganism, destitute littered everywhere, hawkers and the high accident on the roads as a result of obvious malfunction traffic lights. Apart from the wrongful siting of the traffic lights, I observed a situation where the traffic lights will be showing green, yellow and red at the same time, thus confusing drivers and the result is obviously, head on collision”. She challenged the FCT Administration to “wake up” from their “official slumber” to the task of managing the city which is the pride of Nigeria.

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“Recently, attention of the world leaders have shifted to the side of Nigeria, and it is proper that the management of the city ‘sit up’ to their duty. However, the federal capital territory administration, FCTA, under the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Obinna Chukwu, has made several efforts to re-strengthen the recently constituted Special Task Team on City Cleaning and Management under the chairmanship of the FCT Police Commissioner, Wilson Inalegwu. Engr Chukwu was quoted as saying, “Let’s manage FCTA very well. It’s not business as usual as the system must work. No vacuum must be allowed to exist in the entire FCT Administration. When you see anything going wrong in another department or agency, it beholds on all of us to quickly draw the attention of the schedule director. He, however, urged the members of the task team to exercise caution in dealing with environmental defaulters in the city by following due process and avoid any situation that will lead to violence.