Dark clouds they say do not last forever. This will be the case of residents of the Abuja-Keffi axis of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as they may soon heave a sigh of relief when the Apo-Karshi Road is ready for commissioning. This is in a bid to salvage the decade long nightmare commuters face daily, while commuting to and from Abuja.
A good number of motorists and commuters who stay in the axis were recently held up in a gridlock caused after a petroleum tanker fell near the Nyanya Bridge. Motorists who could not abandon their vehicles were forced to bear the torture of sitting in their cars for long hours, while many commuters having paid fares charged by commercial buses and taxis they boarded, resorted to trekking from AYA Roundabout in Asokoro up to Karu Bridge before getting a commercial motorcycle to convey them home.
The tanker fell at a crucial period when there was an influx of commuters on the road who were returning home from work on a Monday evening and were hopelessly stranded at different points for long hours. This is one of the sad experiences residents go through when they ply the Abuja-Keffi Road. For many workers in the FCT, it is tough as the road is the only link to the neighbouring Nasarawa State where thousands of civil servants and other categories of workers who cannot afford the exorbitant house rents in Abuja live. They continue to witness heavy traffic which delays them for hours either while going to work or returning home. The heavy traffic situation along the road has resulted in mixed appointments by commuters who reside in suburbs like Karu, Jikwoyi, Orozo, Kurudu, Kpegi, Mararaba, Masaka and Aso.
Many residents of these areas leave their homes as early as 5am daily to beat the gridlock. To address the situation, the Karshi-Apo Road was considered an alternative route for many motorists as it affords residents few minutes’ drive into the heart of the FCT. New National Star gathered that majority of workers do not get to work until about 11am and majority of them rush back home as early as 3pm as they are subjected to the same experience on the way home. Commuters who spoke with this newspaper lamented that they spend hours on the road that ordinarily, should not exceed more than 30 – 35 minutes depending on their final destinations because that is the only access road to the city centre.
They blame the situation on the government, accusing it of not taking into consideration the people living in the Nyanya – Keffi axis while planning the road network into the city. For James Chinedu, a trader who sells thrift clothing at Utako Market residing in New Nyanya, a neighbouring town in Nasarawa State, although he is used to the gridlock having spent the past three years plying the route, it will be a great relief if the Karu Road currently being expanded is completed. He also noted that he does not open his shop on time due to the fact that he leaves his house by 10am in order to beat the traffic because by that time, many workers would have left for work, thereby reducing the gridlock.
Others Like Oluwamuyiwa Godwin, an IT consultant living in Kurudu blamed the situation on the number of people trooping daily into Abuja in search of jobs. According to him, people who relocate to the Federal Capital Territory and are unable to afford accommodation in the heart of town, resort to staying in the outskirts of Abuja. “One cannot control the influx of people coming in every day. For some, it is as a result of displacement from the crisis in the north and for others, it is the hustle for greener pastures. Traffic will definitely build up because of the ever rising population of those living in these areas.
It is a natural law,” he asserted. Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recently noted that the administration is hoping to open the Apo-Karshi Road. He added that work is at an advanced stage, assuring that the 13.25-kilometre road, first awarded in 2011 to Kakatar Engineering Company will be completed and open for public use before the raining season commences. The road designed to ease the gridlock will link the city centre with some of the highly populated satellite towns. ‘‘The Karshi-Apo Road is a project that should have been delivered by now. One of the main challenges faced in that road has to do with an error in the design whereby a huge rock outcrop on the alignment of the road corridor became very difficult to be able to arrange. “But, we are very happy to say that it is now almost taken care of.
I believe within a few months time, hopefully before the onset of the rains this year, that road would be open. Already, a portion of that road which links Tundun Wada on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway via Old and New Karshi is now very motorable because of the bridge constructed there by the Ecological Fund, which was commissioned about a month ago. “I believe this road would help on the Abuja-Keffi Expressway, particularly the portion from the military formation right to Nyanya, which I’m sure you aware the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing is working on.
It’s been widened and all the alignments for the road proper have been graded,” the minister disclosed.