It’s fashionable for Abuja Drivers to disregard traffic laws in the fast growing Nigeria’s Federal Capital City. Hardly a day goes by without an incident of traffic accident within the city center, some fatal, many others unforgetable. KiNG JAMES YiYE takes a look at what has become a trend…
KiNG JAMES YiYE | kingjames.yiye@ASKiNGRADiO.com
From Abuja’s longest highways like Ahmadu Bello Way and Nnamdi Azikiwe Way to the intra-city exchanges like Herbert Macaulay Way and IBB Way, the situation is the same everyday.
A scene of intracity accident in Abuja looks like the typical intercity ones seen daily on Nigeria highways.
Friday, a middle aged man who is married with four children and who owns and drives a green cab says, this trend was introduced by the Lagos Drivers who migrated to Abuja for greener pastures when the capital city was moved from Lagos to Abuja, but Ayodele who drove in Lagos for 20 years before relocating to Abuja refutes this, saying, Lagos roads never offered them the space for maneuvers, according to Ayodele, the wide and smooth roads in Abuja should be blamed for the way “people drive anyhow in this town”.
Friday says, because he owns his taxi and has a family, he tries to be very careful, “but even when you are careful, those araba boys (referring to Lagos drivers) will still try to be fast, hustling for passengers, and you have to prove that you sef na pro”.
Nigerian Drivers generally have disregard for traffic laws but it seems Abuja Drivers are worse, and just like Ayodele says, many blame this recklessness on the smooth wide multiple lane roads in the city center. Nigeria’s traffic regulation stipulates that, commercial drivers should not exceed 90 kilometers per hour, while private drivers should not go beyond 100 kilometers per hour but Abuja Drivers do way above this especially during the weekend and at late hours, often times drunk, while fiddling with their steering wheels.
Another reason according to Road Traffic Journalist Simon Odey, “Abuja’s good roads are not a blessing but a curse”. He says. “Many Motorists claim to be big boys showing off their ego. They don’t obey traffic rules and regulations, and even when the Traffic Warden stops them, they don’t stop”
Mr. Odey says the use of mobile phones while driving is one sickness Abuja Drivers need to be cured of. “They are driving and at the same time trying to connect with friends, ignoring T-Junctions in the process”.
Even with series of Traffic Radio Programmes in Abuja like Oga Driver which has been on Aso Radio 93.5 FM Abuja since 1999, the culture of observing simple traffic rules like wearing seat belts while driving, is still missing in Abuja. However, pioneer Producer and Presenter of Oga Driver Salihu Ibrahim Kindo believes without the widely accepted radio programme, “the situation would have been chaotic with learners, inexperienced drivers and executive recklessness of people in authority on our highways”
I have also tasted the crude meal of Abuja Drivers first served me in 2003, I was involved in an accident while I boarded a commercial bus between Aso Radio and Gwarimpa Estate junction, a distance of just about about 3 kilometers.
Six people died in our bus alone, while the other driver also died instantly! It was a clear case of over-speeding on a wet road on a rainy day. I remained on my back for three months!
In 2009, I got involved in another accident on Ahmadu Bello Way, while driving myself. The traffic light showed green and I took off on the 8-lane dual carriage road, a van emerged from the right through a connecting street and drove right in front of me with the aim of driving faster to cross into the busy road, but because I was driving a V6 3.0L Engine which was obviously faster, and with the short distance between us, it was too late and I rammed into this van whose rear tyre pulled out instantly and the side door damaged. My car’s bonnet, radiator and fenders were completely damaged with the fan and compressor as well.
The driver, a man old enough to be my father went down on his knees and in tears admitted he was in a hurry to return to where his boss was holding a meeting. He said, he had sneaked to go have his first meal for the day and wanted to rush back before his boss would suspect he wasn’t waiting outside the meeting venue while it lasted, but the simple negligence of feeding a driver cost the van owner more than half a million naira fixing my car.
This attitude of starving drivers for long was one of the many reasons this Abuja Driver and many others involve in deadly crashes that keep diminishing the city’s population or leaving some with permanent disabilities.
KiNG JAMES YiYE reports from the FCT.
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