Abuja residents have been observed to be notorious for avoiding use of pedestrian bridges. They prefer dashing across the road, risking being hit by speeding vehicles but there is another risk at night on the bridges. Hoodlums waylay pedestrians, making the bridges a no-go area at night.
Aso Chronicle gathered that at least three deaths have been recorded in the past few weeks when cars on high speed knocked down pedestrians attempting to cross the highway instead of using the pedestrian bridges.
An unidentified pedestrian was reportedly dismembered when he was knocked down by a vehicle with several other vehicles running over the mutilated body at Finance Junction, Wuye District of the city about two weeks ago.
Reports have it that a week earlier, two other unidentified persons were killed while attempting to cross Airport road at Lugbe.
It will be recalled that students of the University of Abuja earlier this year blocked the Abuja-Gwagwalada highway, the main expressway into the FCT in protested against the killing of their colleague.
The students alleged that a reckless driver had killed the student and also hit four other students leaving them seriously injured. A pedestrian bridge and several bumps have since been provided by the entrance of the university.
Findings revealed that many posters have been provided in the city appealing to pedestrians to use pedestrian bridges provided at strategic places on the highways to avoid accidents. But while many flagrantly disobey these entreaties even during the day time, others said lack of security and lights on the bridges at night made it dangerous to use.
A Lugbe resident, Temitope Awodeyi, who works in Zone 2, Wuse District, said she was accosted on the pedestrian bridge at Finance junction some weeks back and her bag containing her phone and some money snatched from her.
She said since the incident which left her traumatised, she had resorted to crossing the highway, despite the risk of being knocked down by a vehicle.
“I was lucky because they could have raped me aside collecting my belongings because the place was dark and deserted. Even if I had screamed, no one would have come to my rescue.
“Unlike the pedestrian bridges in the city area that are deserted and dark, pedestrian bridges in the satellite towns, like Lugbe, have been turned to market place both during the day and at night. At least, with the presence of activities on these bridges, it is difficult for miscreants to attack us unlike what is obtainable within the town,” she said.
Williams Adesina, who resides in Wuse 2, also narrated his ordeal in an encounter within hoodlums on a pedestrian bridge.
“During the day time, the bridges are relatively safe, but once it is dark, it is dangerous to use them. I learnt my lesson the hard way as I was robbed and beaten up by some boys last month on the pedestrian bridge at Mabushi area,” he said.
Residents are of the opinion that while government ensures security on the pedestrian bridges, there should be sanctions on pedestrians that cross the highway where there are secure pedestrian bridges.
When contacted, the coordinator of Abuja Municipal Metropolitan Council (AMMC), Umar Shuaibu, a town planner, said the FCT administration has not abandoned the fixing of street lights on pedestrian bridges but things, he said, have to be done accordingly.
“If you look at some of these bridges you will see that we have even provision for light there. There were some that we provided and were immediately stolen by cable vandals.
“There are some instances along the Outer Southern Expressway (OSEX), that you would find that the cables meant to supply light to power street lights are dug out and taken away by these vandals.
“Just two weeks ago, the security agencies apprehended some of them and they were paraded at the police command where they confessed that they are not the direct people involved in the business of stealing the cables, they have people they work for, and if there are no buyers then the stolen items would be irrelevant to them, so it is the buyers that are sponsoring vandalism in Abuja; so these are the major issues,” he said.
Shuaibu also explained that the other challenge AMMC is facing in terms of vandalism and insecurity are low turn outs of security patrol.
He said securities have not been on the patrol of these areas most times adding that the AMMC is not the only agency involved but other stakeholders in the security agencies including the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
“Even if the generators are perfectly working, power has to be supplied on these streets by the AEDC to power the street lights and make Abuja bright and mostly we all know that our power supply is always epileptic, so these are the problems but we gradually have to solve them one after the other,” he added.
He said the AMMC is doing all it can as soon as possible to synergise with other stakeholders involved to get it right.
Spokesperson of FCT Police Command, Anjuguri Manzah told Daily Trust that it is not true that there is absence of security personnel on and around the pedestrian bridges in the capital city.
“We have put in adequate measures at those points; we have deployed both uniformed and plain cloth operatives to these points to provide security for those who use the pedestrian bridges.
“The command also went further to identify some black spots and carry out massive raids of these spots where suspects have been arrested.
“All the divisions have been given directives by the Commissioner of Police and they have been complying with these as arrests are being made on daily basis. We have been receiving reports of the progress of these directives. We have suspects in courts and we have those we are still investigating. It is a continuous effort,” he said.
He also confirmed that the command has been arresting several hoodlums that specialize in vandalising and stealing of electric cables and several of them have been charged to court.