Many residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) avoid using the pedestrian bridges, due to one reason or the other, DAVID ADUGE-ANI reports.
Crossing the highways in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is becoming more deadly. As we speak, many residents, in their efforts to cross the major highways, are being knocked and killed by fast-moving vehicles on major junctions, especially at the city centres. Investigation conducted by LEADERSHIP has revealed that averages of five persons are killed daily in all the major junctions within the territory. These flashpoints, according our findings include, include Area One Junction, Area 3 Junction, Apo Bridge Junction, NICON Junction, Finance Junction, Berger Junction, Mabushi Junction, Lugbe FHA Junction, and even Dei Dei Junction.
These are the spots where many residents have lost their lives and have continued to lose their lives as they attempt to cross the highways. But the funny aspect of it is that few metres away from these killer spots, lie pedestrians bridges, built recently by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), to reduce deaths and carnage on the roads.
An official of the FCTA told LEADERSHIP that the administration has spent millions of naira in the construction of these pedestrian bridges, with the hope that it would reduce motorists from knocking down people crossing the highways.
However many residents have not been comfortable using the bridges. Among the reasons given for abandoning the bridges is that they are too far from the bus-stops and point of crossing. For instance, it takes about 15 minutes for to reach, climb and descend most of the pedestrian bridges, before returning to the junction. John Ameh, who insisted on running across the highway, at Finance Junction, in Wuye district, told our reporter that it takes him about 15 minutes to cross through the bridge in a journey he could make in less than two minutes, if he runs across the highway.
“How do you expect me to trek 15 minutes through the pedestrian bridge before returning to the crossing point. This is a journey that takes me less than two minutes, if I run through expressway. I believe that those who constructed the bridges did not want pedestrians to use them, which was why they constructed it far from the junctions and bus-stops.”
Also, insecurity is another reason residents give for not using the pedestrian bridges. Some people who spoke to our reporter explained that several persons have either been robbed or beaten on the pedestrian bridges, especially at night. Abdullahi Musa, a resident of Utako village said he was robbed recently, when he tried to use the pedestrian bridge at Mabushi area. He added that since the incident, he has continued to dash through the highways, not minding the risks involved.
‘Although, using the pedestrian bridges is safer, despite the distance, but the dangers of it is that they are not safe, especially at night. Most of these bridges don’t have light at night and are mostly deserted, so hoodlums take advantage of this situation, to rob any person crossing it at night,” he said.
Again, LEADERSHIP findings also show that some of the bridges have been turned to mini-markets, where people hawk and display their wares, especially at night. At Dei Dei in Bwari area council, half of the bridge is usually taken over by hawkers, thereby leaving the remaining half for pedestrians, who struggle to use the bridge. Recently, the FCTA constructed stronger barricade, around the Dei Dei Pedestrian Bridge.
This is coming after several people have lost their lives on that spot, while dashing across the highway. Most people are now forced to use the bridge. But the challenge is that high numbers of pedestrians, who use the bridge, have to struggle with other pedestrians as well as with hawkers, who have taken over almost half of the bridge.
Some time ago the administration had embarked on sensitization of residents on the needs for them to use the pedestrian bridges. Posters were displayed at strategic places and announcements were equally made using the public address systems. However, these efforts have not yielded the much desired result, as many residents still prefer to avoid the bridges, based on the reasons.
In addition, the FCTA also constructed wire barricades around these pedestrian bridges in Area 3, Area 1and NICON Junction. But these barricades have at several points been destroyed by pedestrians, in their efforts to cross the highways.
This is why many residents now want relevant agencies of government to apply sanctions on people who either break the barricades or refuse to use the pedestrian bridges. This, in their opinion, would increase more traffic on the bridges and reduce insecurity. “You see, if there is sanction against people who cross the highways, many people will be forced to use the pedestrian bridges, and the activities of hoodlums will disappear. I believe that hoodlums have taken over the bridges, because they have been desserted.”
But the coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Shuaibu Umar told LEADERSHIP that the administration lacks the needed resources and manpower to force Abuja residents comply with the use of pedestrian bridges, across the territory. Umar was of the opinion that the administration has done its own part, by providing the bridges and barricades to avoid the loss of lives.
He also expressed disappointment at the levels in which the barricades, around the pedestrian bridges are being vandalized, stating that the administration should not be held responsible for any loss of live on the highways. “If you go Area 1, you will see the barricades, around the pedestrian bridge, but people are vandalizing them, so that they can run cross the major road and avoid the bridge. Government has done all the necessary measures to make people use the bridges. We have also sensitized the public on the use of the bridges. You cannot blame the administration for the loss of lives because it has done its own parts to safeguard lives.”
The coordinator however disclosed that there are plans to erect stronger barricades, around the pedestrian bridges, like the type in Dei-Dei, in Wuye, Area 3 Junction, as well as NICON Junction, to force residents use the bridges.
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