Ola Baker lives on Tundun Fulani road in Bwari Area Council, Abuja. He said it is very difficult to walk up or down the pothole-filled road, with the condition worsening whenever it rains as it turns muddy.
“I come to my photo stand with both a pair of slippers and shoes. The slippers is for the rain and the shoe for normal weather because if rain starts the road is usually terrible,” he said.
He said the road becomes impassable to motorcycles and vehicles as water gathers in some portions after rainfall, adding that since the road is muddy most times, he preferred walking home at night.
“If I walk fast, I spend just over an hour but because I am usually tired due to the day’s work, I spend more than two hours on the road from T-junction to my house,” he said.
Baker, who has lived in Bwari for over eight years, said he also spent more than two months treating malaria which he attributed to several stagnant pools of water in his area. He said such pools of water abound due to the on-going construction on the Tundun Fulani road which he said had been on for several years.
The photographer said he spent more than N30,000 treating himself, wife and children for malaria though he makes less than N20,000 a month in his photography business, forcing him to resort to begging for money from people.
“They recently put laterite on the road but it has been washed away by rain,” he said, adding that he usually took his medical report to his photo booth which he used in begging for money from friends, relatives and sometimes customers.
Another resident, identified as Madam Joy, said she also spent a significant part of her earnings treating malaria.
A poor drainage system and the deplorable road are a source of concern to Madam Joy, a trader. She said, “When it rains, mosquitoes breed in the stagnant water and malaria is the disease which has been costing us lots of money to treat.”
Though Dan-O, another resident, did not have to beg to treat himself of malaria, he said he usually planned wherever he went especially during the wet season. Among his survival techniques is going to only places or for events that are extremely important.
The residents said good roads are rare in Bwari metropolis. “If the road to the area council secretariat has been calling for attention for ages then we the residents have no hope,” Dan-O said.
A taxi driver, Abdullahi Ndagi, described the road as a death trap, adding that it was getting worse by the day.
“The road in this town is a big problem that needs immediate government attention, it is getting worse every day. It is now a kind of death trap. Barely a month ago, a motorcyclist died on the road after he collided with a car while attempting to avoid a pothole at Zango junction,” he added.
Madam Joy said the situation affects business activities as traders find it difficult to move their goods thereby causing shortage in supply and rise in the cost of goods and services.
“Moving goods to market is a source of worry. Whenever we bring goods to the market, we sometimes suffer breakdown of vehicles, delaying our movement thereby cutting down on our sales and profit,” she said.
Some of the residents alleged that government has done little or nothing in alleviating their plights as some of the roads were awarded to contractors but were never completed.
Another taxi driver, John Onoh, alleged that the contractor handling the road from T-junction opposite Skye Bank to Deeper Life has suspended work.
“The renovation work has been abandoned. The town needs accessible roads for the day-to-day activities of the populace,” he said.
Yakubu Abbas, another resident, said, “Since 2014, the road has been dilapidated. Few months back FERMA began work on the road but after few weeks, they are nowhere to be found.”
He urged government to mobilise contractors back to site as accidents are becoming rampant in the area.
“Most politicians are only good at making promises, we need commitment and not promises, they should work toward improving the road up to the rehabilitated Government Girls’ College,” he said.
Another taxi driver, Vincent James, said rehabilitation of the T-Junction road to Kogo started about one month ago. He said the FERMA officials worsened the the situation by abandoning work halfway.
“The road is now worse, I buy more fuel now and make fewer trips,” he said.
John Owi said government raised the people’s hope when the project started, adding that the earlier euphoria has given way to disappointment due to the delay in completing the project.
A commercial motorcyclist, Isah Sanusi said, “These roads are bad. From the market to Kogo is very bad down to Deeper Life. I have lived in Bwari for over 15 years and these roads have always been like this,” he said.
“It makes my business really stressful. I use more fuel plying the roads, but if we increase the fare, customers won’t want to pay It is very tiring. Some days I wake up and do not want to even go out for business,” he said.
A sign board reading, “Contract for rehabilitation and repairs of Bwari-township roads” is situated at the T-junction in the town. The information on the sign board showed that the contract was awarded to Wadata Groups Ltd by Federal Road Maintenance Agency.
“They only mark some segments of the road for rehabilitation, but since then nothing has been done. The contractors should be mobilised back to site as life has continued to be unbearable for motorists on the roads. From Ijakoro junction to Kuduru junction it is too bad, government needs to come to our aid,” Hussein Hassan, a motorist lamented.
However, an official at the Information Unit of Bwari Area Council, Roy Emerson, has dispelled calls by the residents for the rehabilitation of roads as politically motivated.
“Their complaints are political, if I don’t know a thing I have to go to the source to find out. Area councils don’t do roads. It is not their exclusive mandate but to open up feeder roads in rural villages,” he said.