Traffic Congestion In Abuja

Traffic Congestion In Abuja: A Growing Concern

Traffic Congestion In Abuja

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Abuja is one of the leading states in Nigeria with the best road network. The roads are not just parlous but well lit with street lights, greenery with a beautiful range of mountain landscape that allures visitors and residents as they commute daily.

Abuja being first, the administrative epicentre of Nigeria’s government has mostly civil servants who cannot afford the high cost of rentage in the city living in the satellite towns and suburbs and making daily commute into the city, as well as businessmen and women whose businesses are clustered within the city.

Abuja has three major roads leading into the city; Abuja-Keffi (Nyanya-Maraba road), Airport Road Lugbe and the Kubwa expressway, these three major access road corridors are ladened with massive congestion and traffic gridlock during the morning peak period when commuters are going to work, places of business and, in the evenings, when commuters are returning from work.

The dearth of an efficient public transport system has negative effect on commuter’s experience. For example, commuters who flow into the city in the day for economic and commercial activities are exposed to serious air pollutions especially particulate matter from the exhaust of automobiles; report has it that an average Abuja commuter from the suburbs spends about 26 days in a year in traffic while about 2 million deaths are attributed to air pollution from road traffic. The unpredictability in estimated travel time and/or wait time at both designated and undesignated points also has impact on commuters’ productivity and efficiency.

Very recently, commuters experience has worsened due to the adjustment in premium motor spirit (PMS) price where private commercial public transport operators peg their charges at will with no regulation. These drivers do not only demand outrageous amount from passengers but further subject their comfort to ridicule by carrying more than the approved passengers. Passengers who dare to object are requested to drop thereby extending their wait time or endure being sandwiched against each other. Interactions with commuters in Abuja have revealed that majority of them resume at their offices tired and fatigued, with little or no enthusiasm to undertake task for the new day. Others complain on the impact the recent change has had on their mental health; some complain they no longer look forward to leaving their houses.

The transport sector drives the economy of any country and an efficient public transport system has far-reaching gains and shouldn’t be ignored.

Unfortunately, Abuja does not have an efficient public transport system as such there is high automobile-dependency which is worrisome. Majority of the population depend on automobiles to move around and this comes with a box load of challenges; the long wait on the roads by passengers exposes them to exhaust emissions that are detrimental to their health, the indiscriminate picking and dropping off of passengers due to lack of bus stops disrupts the orderliness and traffic flow on our roads, aggravating the already existing problem of congestion. Touts popularly known as Agberos are now marshalling popular car stops in the city contributing to traffic overflow as they most times struggle to extort monies from drivers or ferment trouble with them.

Abuja only has few designated bus stops within the city, with no firm rules and regulations guiding their use, because of these passengers and drivers are emboldened to wait and or pick passengers indiscriminately.

A great way to start in fixing this issue is overturning the automobile-dependent nature of the city, exploring other viable options such as walking, cycling, bus rapid transit system (BRT) etc. the more options we encourage, the more diversified and efficient our transportation system becomes. In Latin American cities for instance, the BRT System has proven to be an effective transportation system. Interestingly, this system has been adopted in Lagos, although not optimally efficient but commuters on the BRT buses are guaranteed of a designated lane, designated bus stops, and a fairly predictable travel time.

With Abuja rapidly urbanizing; there’s something to learn from Lagos, which is to avoid the traffic situation they are currently experiencing but more importantly to adopt the BRT model to optimize commuters travel experience. The city administrators can adopt the BRT system to reduce the vehicular traffic and waste of productive man hours in traffic. An effective public mass transport system will discourage private individuals from moving everywhere with their private vehicles which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that is largely responsible for climate change. Clean air in cities is desirable and all of this can be achieved with the right systems in place. The goal is to ensure that less vehicles are on the road and traffic congestions are reduced or eliminated and only then can the true vision of Abuja being a 15-minutes city be achieved.

Also, we could have dedicated lanes for walking and cycling within the city, to encourage more persons to embrace these forms of transportation which is quite healthy.

With the removal of fuel subsidy, this is a better time to introduce the BRT transport system, it will catalyze the seamless movement of persons, goods and service as well as reduce and/or ameliorate the sufferings faced by residents of Abuja occasioned by the regime change in price of PMS.

 

Bassey Bassey is a sustainable urban enthusiast and Executive Director at HipCity Innovation Centre. He can be reached via basseyita@gmail.com

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