If there is one prayer many residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who move around by commercial vehicles would want God to speedily answer is that there should not be rain either on their way to work or in the evening when they close. Reason is that each day such rain falls they are made to pay dearly for that. They are either made to cough out higher fare or left stranded at bus stops.
Ms. Patience Onoja, a civil servant told Daily Sun: “I always know that I am in for a harrowing experience any day it rains in the morning or in the evening. When it rains, it is always difficult to get vehicle to office. When you see one, the driver will triple the fare. At the bus stop you will find thousands of people wearing long faces and fighting for a space whenever any vehicle stops.”
The coming of rain is greeted with mixed feelings. For farmers it is a welcome development, considering the cultivation of crops. As soon as it rains, especially in suburbs like Mararaba, Nyanya and Kuje, the environment gets so messy and oozes unpleasant
stench due to the heaps of dirt strategically located in the areas. As if that is not enough, commuters would have to brace up to the hike of transport fare. Ordinarily, fare for Mararaba to Area 1, which costs N100 on a normal day is often jerked up to N150. That is for buses. For a cab, commuters would have to cough out N200 to N250 depending on the distance.
Even at that, passengers are lumped together four passengers sit behind while two passengers manage the front seat. There are times unavailability of vehicles caused by the rush is mitigated by private car owners who pull up to assist the stranded passengers. In a bid to avoid going late, most commuters would go as far as boarding motorbike from Mararaba to AYA round – of course, at an exorbitant fare.
And when bike riders notice that officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), are not monitoring the situation, they resort to taking one-way endangering the lives of the passengers.
Another disturbing agony is the heavy gridlock. Most drivers do not buy the idea of driving when it rains. So they would park pending when the rain would subsides, and as soon as it does, everybody would like to move almost at the time leading to heavy traffic and stalling movement.
For Juliet Joseph who is a trader, the rainy season has been frustrating. She said her shop is in an open space, leading to her shutting down when it rains. She wants “the FCTA to build shops and also at an affordable rate.”
Mary Odey said she leaves her house at Mararaba as early as 5.30 am any day it rains: “The rainy season is not man-made; it is a natural occurrence. So people who intend to eke out a living must be ready to hit the street. Like me a banker, I have to hit the street as early as 5:30AM just to get to the office on time. Places one pay cheaper would ordinarily increase due to the rain and the rush. And I have to pay in order to get to the office on time. And you know that in financial institutions, time is money.”
For Abiodun Idowu, a courier deliveryman not even the raincoat shields him from the effect of rain: “Man must survive. Most customers do not care to know why or what leads to delay inasmuch as they have paid for a product they want it delivered at the expected time.”
This reporter discovered that most people do not understand or care to read weather forecast at least for them to put on clothes to fit the weather or carry umbrella.
Odu John, a civil servant, appealed to government to refurbish bus stops where commuters can get shelter when it rains: “It would be good for the government to establish modern bus stops in strategic areas to help those without cars.”
He also appealed to the Federal Capital Territory Adminstration (FCTA) to provide more buses to meet up with the demands of the people.