Sunday Trust investigations have revealed that the situation is worst around Area 2, Garki Market and around Wuse Market. The few parking lots when filled up, motorists are forced to park on the pavement and then incur the wrath of the law.
Mustapha Isa was seen parking on the pavement on Ladoke Akintola Boulevard and when asked why he was parking there he said: “I don’t know where else to park. As you can see, all around here parking spaces are filled up. It is a terrible situation but we that own vehicles are helpless, because we cannot create parking space for ourselves, the best we could do is park in the wrong places and then fall victims of the law enforcement agents who are ever too happy to remove our plate numbers”.
He, however, explained that sometimes it is not that there is no parking space, but that one is sometimes in a hurry and one thinks it will not cause any harm to park on the pavement for some few minutes before one finishes one’s business and moves on quickly. “Most times you are unlucky and the VIO beats you to it and by the time you come out your plate number is removed and confiscated.”
Another motorist who spoke to Sunday Trust said that when government in Nigeria plans, it does not project into the future and that is why there is a problem of lack of parking space. “If our government plans on the long term, we wouldn’t be having problem of lack of parking space, lack of this and lack of that. But they plan without thinking of the public interest and so everything is a problem. For instance, public buildings and commercial premises are approved by authorities without giving enough room for parking lot, so that is where the problem originally is,” Udeme Bassey said.
For commercial bus drivers, the situation is a nightmare as they don’t even have to park in places that are supposed to be designated bus stops. Except for long buses called el Rufai buses, the small, green, white green buses hardly park by Wuse Market. If they dare stop there, traffic police would commando style jump into the buses and prevent the drivers from reaching their destinations until they drop a tip.
“I don’t know what they want us to do. If they don’t want a bus stop to exist around Wuse then they should also remove the market from here. Otherwise people board buses to come to the market and where do they expect them to alight? Most times passengers don’t understand the situation and they end up quarrelling and fighting us as if we are the ones that don’t want them to disembark at their destinations.” Ebuka Ugwu, a commercial bus driver that plies Mararaba-Wuse route lamented.
Even around Berger Bus Stop as it is called, Araba, commercial buses do not stop there unless police and VIO are not present. Both disembarking passengers and those waiting to board have to be smart like Lagosians before they can jump down at the stop and jump up on the buses. Yohanna Loko said that it is as if government does not want poor people to live in Abuja that is why everything is against them. “The issue is simple, government does not want people like us to live in Abuja that is why they can’t even allow us park where we are supposed to park.”
Efforts to speak to the Chief Press Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammad Hazat Sule to explain what the FCT authorities are doing to solve the problem failed. The Public Enlightment Officer of (DRTS), Vivian Uttah could not be reached on phone too.