From Esokawu Dorcas
For residents of Abuja, commuting is a frustrating experience, especially for those whose only means of movement is the public transport. Their daily prayers is for their cloths not to get stained, ruffled or torn due to the kind of taxis that ply the Federal Capital Territory. Most of the taxis could best be described as rickety- worn tyres, cracked windscreen, deplorable interior.
That is not all. They come with head lamps broken, faulty exhaust pipes, expired fire extinguishers for those that even have and missing side view mirrors. Surprisingly, even those that appear to be road-worthy are seen broken down at strategic areas, especially in traffic
Popular places where rickety vehicles operate are Nyanya, Mararaba, Jikwoyi, Masaka, Aleita, Tungamanji, Lugbe, Gwagwa, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Pyakasa, Deidei and Zuba.
Even as rickety as they are, drivers violate the Federal Road Safety Corps rules of ferrying one passenger in front and three behind. The quest for more money prod drivers into ferrying two passengers at the front seat, and four at the back seat, leading to the cramming of passengers.
The problem started when the FCT Administration banned buses and only allowed 350 high capacity buses to operate with a promise to increase it by 600 in line with the policy, which it claimed was aimed at providing efficient transport operation in the territory.
Daniel Emmanuel, a carpenter gave his own encounter.
“The situation is disturbing as nobody is ready to salvage the situation. If drivers like let them carry five passengers we don’t have any option but hop so long as it takes us to our destination.”
He continued: “Until the FCTA provides more vehicles, this palaver won’t disappear.”
Augustine Odu, a driver gave reasons why they carry four behind and two in front. “If we don’t carry like that we won’t make our money. Fuel is N145 and when you don’t carry four, how do you regain your money. If you check properly, private car owners are also operating, and struggling for passengers with us.”
Balogun Idris, another driver said the cost of maintaining a tax is expensive.
“How much do I make a day that will enable me fix all the faulty parts? So far as my vehicle can move I am okay. All those things you are asking me to fix are not too important. Man must survive,” he said.
However, bad roads is also a contributory factor. Major roads in the FCT are impassable which orchestrates the breakdown of vehicles.
Not even the government-owned vehicles, popularly called El’Rufai are immune from dilapidation. Apart from cramming passengers, the windscreens are also broken while the tyres are old.
However, it is the saving grace for commuters as it is cheap and it could also accommodate so many people.
Efforts to get the insight of FRSC was fruitless as the interview date was postponed indefinitely.