The authorised park operators within Nyanya and Mararaba, FCT satellite towns, have advised passengers to desist from patronising roadside motorists, saying it will endanger their lives as insecurity persists across the country.
The operators, who were reacting to the insecurity situations in the country, gave the advice when they spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Friday.
Also some commercial drivers in the FCT decry low passenger turnout due to the prevailing insecurity situation in the country.
According to them, some of the roadside motorists disguising themselves as members of Transports Union are agents of kidnappers who hand over some of the victims to their adopters while on transit.
Mr Benedict Aondoakaa, the Manager of Pleasure Travels Motor Company said it was unreasonable for any passenger to board vehicles on the road without knowing its identity considering the present situation in the country now.
“Due to this issue, we sometimes in the past had face-off with some unidentified people in the front of our park, who always disguised as staff to deceive passengers to board unknown vehicles.
“There was a time they came in and destroyed some of our vehicles here inside the park because we are stopping them from operating illegally. ”
On security measures in the park, Aondoakaa said they normally screened their passengers before they were allowed into the vehicles in addition with the hired armed policemen on ground to forestall any threat on customers.
While appreciating Nasarawa State government for creating a multipurpose motor park, Aondoakaa explained that the gesture had reduced crimes like burgling, snatching of people’s belongings, “one-chance’’ robbery and so on within the area.
Similarly, Miss Angela Chioma, the Manager Peace Mass Transit, said her company had taken cognisance of security threat to hire armed policemen to guard the company premises to avoid intruders in their business.
“No doubt, the recurring insecurity situation has, however, put us on alert not to allow only our own internal security on operation that is why we hired armed policemen to guard the park.
“As you can see besides the armed policemen, our security men are conducting checks on vehicle before taking them into the vehicles and we do this on daily basis before embarking on journey.”
Chioma also used the medium to advised passengers to board vehicles from authorised park to ascertain their safety.
She, however, appealed to Nasarawa State government to intensify efforts to rid the area, especially Mararaba of roadside transport operators who were operating outside designated motor parks.
According to her, it will enable passengers to patronise the authorised motor parks and to ensure safety of lives and property.
“While we are collecting N6, 000 here, the roadside motorists are ever ready to collect N3,000 to N4,000 from them and people will rush after that even if they know the danger involved in it by entering unregistered motor operators, ” she asked.
China added that the situation was a threat to their businesses.
On his part, Mr Livernus Sunny, the Manager of Sunny Bright Mass Transit discouraged the idea of boarding vehicles from unauthorised motorists by the roads.
Sunny said that it was not ideal to doing so as most reports of missing people, kidnapped ones were traced to such acts.
Also, Mr Bulus Maaji, the Chief Security Officer at New Nyanya Transport Company, condemned the idea of patronising roadside motorists by the passengers.
“In our park here, we have security, we have spare vehicle to respond to any breakdown of vehicles on transit or should there be any emergency on the roads and we make sure our passengers are secure.’’
Maaji, however, appealed to Nasarawa State government to establish more motor parks, considering the huge population within the region so as to decongest the road from traffic.
Meanwhile, Mr Bernard Mark, a passenger at the park appealed to the Federal Government to put more efforts on security measures, especially at motor parks across the country to secure the lives of citizens.
“I am a regular customer here at New Nyanya Company; I think I am enjoying their services. But monitoring of people, I don’t think private motor park owners are capable enough considering the situation at hand.
“I am appealing to the governments at all levels to be on their feet as security situation in the country is getting out of hands,’’ Mark said.
Meanwhile, other commercial drivers in the FCT decried low passenger turnout due to the prevailing insecurity situation in the country.
They told NAN that the situation was leading to serious hardship for them (drivers) as they could barely get money to take care of their families.
A driver at the Utako park, Mr Godfrey Ondah said: ”I have been driving for over 10 years from Abuja to the Southern part of the country and what we are witnessing now requires God’s intervention.
”For some of us who do not have other means of livelihood except driving, we are no longer finding life easy, some of our children are even out of school.
”Many people avoid travelling these days because of the insecurity situation in the country. And when people don’t travel, we as drivers do not make money.
”We understand the government is making effort to resolve the security challenges in the country, but a lot still needs to be done.
”We pray government increase efforts to tackle insecurity, to enable people travel freely, so that hunger will not kill us and our families.”
Another driver, Mr Chukwu Onyeka, also reiterated the need for the Federal Government to tackle insecurity in the country.
Onyeka said majority of the drivers who traveled to the South-eastern parts of the country worked hand in hand to secure themselves and their passengers but the government had a major role to play in that regard.
”Most of us who travel to the South-East, we know ourselves and because we follow the same route, we easily communicate with ourselves whenever there is problem on the road.
”It is only God that has been helping us. Because some of us still do night journey. When we perceive danger, we park for some time and then continue when the road is clear.
”Even though we know it is risky travelling at night, we do not have a choice because as man we to take care of our families.’’
Similarly, Mr Kaseem Abu, a driver at the Jabi Park said very few passengers now traveled to the north, unlike before when we used to have many passengers at weekends, especially.
Abu said: “recently one of us narrowly escaped kidnappers on the road to Kaduna. This is a very serious matter because even the FCT is no longer safe.’’
Mr Taiwo Yahaya, the Secretary of Ibadan Unit, Jabi Park, said in spite of the insecurity and even fuel crisis in the country, the cost of fair had not changed.
”As a union, we understand the plight of our passengers, we are aware the economic situation is very bad generally and insecurity is on the increase.
”When the cost of fair at the park is high, passengers tend to go to the road side to board vehicles, which in most cases happen to be dangerous.
”So in spite of the situation, we have not increased fair to encourage our passengers. Even though this has not changed the reduced number of passengers we witness now.
”One of the measures we take to ensure safety is to check passengers and their luggage before they board out vehicles.
”This has however not been easy as some passengers feel you are encroaching on their privacy.
”We also observe the passenger, as they say appearance speaks volume. If we suspect the way you appear and we are not comfortable with you, we do not allow you board our cars.
”We also ensure our drivers mobile phones are well charged, so we can communicate easily when they are on the road.’’
A passenger, Olivia Jacobs, said if she had a choice, she would not travel through Kaduna road because she was scared of being attacked in the road.
”I am not from Kaduna but my parents live there. I have an emergency which has compelled me to make this trip, if I had a choice I would not travel.
Another passenger, Esther Lukah said: ”I used to travel every weekend to Kaduna to see my friends and family but that has stopped since insecurity increased in the country.
‘”Sometimes I wonder if the government is even doing anything about it because the situation is getting worse by the day. I fear for my generation honestly,”Lukah said.
Also Mr Daniel Sani, who planned on travelling through Kaduna to Kano, prayed the government to intervene in the economic situation of the country.
According to Sani, the cost of flight from Abuja to Kano now is close to N100, 000 and only a hand full of Nigerians can afford it.
Sani said: “I am going on an official trip to Kano but when I saw the cost of flight, i had no choice but to use the road.
”People are really suffering this days in the country and some can barely even feed. The cost of items in the market has skyrocketed and people’s incomes have not changed.
”If nothing is done soonest about this, there will be very big challenge for the country going forward.”(NAN)