For sometimes now, motorists plying the Mararrabar Jos Expressway have been under nightmares, occasioned by the indiscriminate parking of heavy-duty trucks and petroleum tankers along the highway. This has left many dead and others injured. In fact, more than two persons died every month as a result of accident. MIDAT JOSEPH examines how terrible the situation has been.
If nothing urgent is done to address the rampant crushing and killing of human beings at Mararrabar Jos occasioned by moving vehicles on daily, weekly and monthly bases, lives will continue to be lost while many will as well continue to be maimed.
This is so in view of the recurrent accident which has become a nightmare to both residents, passersby and other road users.
Kilometer 12 along Kaduna – Zaria express road, or Zaria-Kaduna express road is not a new spot to many road users. The road serves as a Three-way (T-Junction) connecting Kaduna State to states like Kano, Jigawa, Plateau and others.
Mararrabar Jos located in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State because of proximity to these states has served as a much deserved ‘stop over’ point for vehicles most of them the heavy duty trucks and petroleum tankers.
The recent crisis in Kaduna State did not help matters as most vehicles heading towards the North that usually make a stop over at the popular Abuja Junction have virtually relocated to Mararrabar Jos.
Following this development, every parking space available in Mararrabar Jos has been taken over by heavy duty trucks and tankers. Some even parking reckless has caused death and havoc to both road users and residents.
There is also belief among most motorists and residents that the truck drivers are ‘above the law’ because of their refusal to move to the garage provided to them by government to enable them relocate from the highway in order to bring to an end the obstruction and the accidents, which their continued highway occupation is causing.
A motorist who gave his name as Bala, while speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY at Mararrabar Jos, said the indiscriminate parking of the heavy duty trucks had been a nightmare to motorists plying the expressway for a long time.
He said; “the obstruction caused by heavy duty vehicles, which are parked on either sides of the highway in the area, is a serious cause for concern for both motorists and the residents. Tanker and truck drivers, who move goods and petroleum products from the South to the North, and vice versa, have since turned the edges of the highway into a garage of sorts”.
Another resident, Abdulrahman Mararrabar Jos, also lamented the reckless parking of the tankers Drivers, saying “there is hardly a day that we don’t record accident here; we have lost a lot of lives here. Something should be done about this issue because it’s consuming everyone”.
Abdurahman alleged that politicians, top government officials and other influential Nigerians who own the petroleum tankers and the heavy duty trucks are the ones who turned those garages into their parking lots, forcing the truck drivers to be parking on the highway.
The magnitude of this left the federal government, in collaboration with Kaduna State Government, with no other option but to provide alternative parking space for these vehicles and advised all vehicle owners to start immediate use of the newly provided parking garage along Zaria – Kaduna highway.
This attempt by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and Kaduna state government to relocate the drivers and their trucks into the nearby garages were not successful, as both the agency and the Kaduna State government have not been able to put the new garages into good shape.
This is among other reasons why reckless and uncontrolled parking along the highways in Mararrabar Jos has turned this once quite town to a nightmare for all road users.
According to the secretary of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) heavy duty vehicles section, Mararrabar Jos Section, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Maigana, “the Union itself is not finding it easy because of the accidents and havoc that these reckless parking have wrath on many lives.
Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Maigana in a sharp reaction debunks the claim by Kaduna State Government of providing a new parking garage for the unions in Mararrabar Jos.
In his word, “Honestly, the claim by the government to have provided parking space for the Union cannot be accepted because in Mararrabar Jos here, we have two Unions, the NURTW Heavy Duty Vehicles Section and Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association.
“The government has not handed over any garage or parking space to either of these Unions as I am talking to you. If such parking spaces have been provided, it would have reduced some of the problems we the Union are facing, because reckless parking is a problem to the two unions”.
Although the NURTW secretary said he is aware of a land fenced by the government but the gate is under lock and keys and it has not even been graded and in view of this, no vehicle can be parked in such place.
“Yes I am aware that a piece of land has been fenced off and it is being rumoured that it is the new parking garage for Mararrabar Jos; but I tell you today with the condition no vehicles can be parked inside and to show we are also interested in the project, we have sent series of correspondences to Igabi Local Government Area Council to speedy up the project and hand it over to the two unions, but as I am talking to you today we have not received any response”, he said.
Maigana added that the provision of any garage in Mararrabar Jos will alleviate the problems currently faced by the two unions because the unions are constantly at log-a-heads with drivers in order to get them park their vehicles properly.
He said the two unions recently came out with a resolution that vehicles should not be parked on the lane but at the centre dividing the highway to reduce the problems of collision.
“This new decision of not parking on the lane has greatly helped us to control accidents on the road and unless there is other problem the issue of vehicles especially passenger buses running into parked articulated trucks and tankers has been reduced”.
Alhaji Maigana urged Kaduna State Government to take the construction of the new parking space serious and complete it because every month, at least out of scores of accidents, two lives are being lost and this transforms into twelve innocent lives in a year and this should be a source of concern to the government not to talk of those who are permanently handicapped.
The office of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, Mararabar Jos refused to comment on the same issue of reckless parking along the express road but rather directed our Correspondent to the State Chairman of PTD, Alhaji Gambo Tuge for comment.
All attempts to get Alhaji Tuge, including calls to his GSM line could not yield meaningful result.
On the claim that the large numbers of trucks and tankers in Mararrabar Jos is a result of flourishing night life and drugs trade that most of the drivers stop to enjoy themselves in was also debunked by the NURTW secretary.
Although he accepted that in the past such claim can be substantiated, “today with the activities of the Union, such things have been brought under check”, and according to him most drivers of the vehicles or tankers have their families residing in Mararrabar Jos village and whenever they are on their way either from Kano (north) to Port Harcourt (south) or vice-versa, some of them stop in Kaduna to spend a week or more with their families before proceeding on their journeys. Most times, these women are their wives”.
But a young patent drugs vendor in Mararrabar Jos, Isah said; “human beings are not created the same, some have high sexual urge while some don’t.
So, the issue of free women is not totally a lie, because if you are on a journey and such urge suddenly arises, how do you satisfy the urge? You have to look for a woman, and you cannot be traveling with your wife all the time and that is why you have lots of women in Mararrabar Jos to help in this way.
The secretary of Petroleum Marketers in Mararrabar Jos, Ibrahim Bagobiri said “Mararrabar Jos, like any other town, cannot be a ‘saint’ village, so, what obtains in other towns is also obtainable here. Although the union is working round the clock with various security agencies to arrest the situation.”
Alhaji Ibrahim Bagobiri said; “what should be of utmost concern to the government and Mararrabar Jos residents is the issue of bus drivers who do not abide by the rules of driving”.
According to him, “most of these bus drivers know they are approaching a town and a junction, but they will still maintain a high speed, and when they see somebody trying to cross the road, they try to manoeuvre their vehicles and in most cases run into a stationary vehicle and some times this results into fatal accident. So, drivers should drive by the rules and help to reduce problems”.
On its part, the Kaduna state government said it is considering another dimension of addressing the issue.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Zakariya Shamaki told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY on phone that government was worried over the happenings in the area.
He said “the state government inaugurated a task force that would look into all the issues regarding the completion of the new garages and the sanitising of the old ones.
Unless Kaduna State government, Igabi Local government council and NEMA do something urgently to address the parking problem along Mararrabar Jos road this town will continue to be a nightmare to all road users plying the Kaduna – Zaria or Kaduna – Jos express ways.