Motorists in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are getting frustrated due to bad roads in some parts of the city, with little or no attention being paid to the situation by the relevant authorities.
Abuja has one of the best road networks in Nigeria. However, driving on these roads has of late become has become a nightmare. This is because of many faulty traffic lights that regulate vehicular movement at various junctions within and outside the city centres.
In addition, many street lights are not functioning, giving cover to hoodlums and criminals to freely operate and unleash terror and misery on residents particularly at isolated locations. Some of the traffic lights are either not working completely, leading to periodic manual control of traffic or they are malfunctioning, thus misleading and confusing motorists, which most times, result in crashes.
Undocumented complaints were also received from motorists that some of the traffic lights were “not properly” located. Some were fixed at close proximity worsening traffic challenges originally designed to solve.
The impatience of motorists also contributed to the problem. Motorists seem inconsiderate while on the road leading to crashes. These faulty traffic lights are conspicuous at busy junctions within Wuse, Maitama, Garki, Central Area, Asokoro and few in Kubwa and some other places.
Traffic lights at National Mosque junction beside Tofa House, Three Arms Zone Junction by the Head of Service which was recently removed, Sheraton Junction, Access Bank Junction by Lion House, Bolingo Junction, Paniel Apartment Junction in Wuse 2, Garki Area 1 by Shopping Centre, among several others, periodically lead to avoidable auto crashes.
Director, Traffic Management Department, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Etim Abak, attributed the development to the aging state of the traffic lights. He admitted some of them require urgent replacement with improved quality and efficiency:
“Howbeit, contracts have been awarded for the upgrade of traffic light signals in 25 intersections in FCT. Unfortunately, the contractors claimed they have not been able to get the imported items out from the seaport to commence the work. Also, we used to maintain some of the traffic light signals in-house but currently, there is no financial provision to do that.
“It is very instructive to know that some traffic lights in Abuja were installed in isolation, meaning that they are not linked with each other to enhance efficiency neither was there a central monitoring system for them. What we need is Urban Traffic Control (UTC) system to correct that. UTC means synchronization of the traffic light system and connecting them to the central monitoring centre, from there, we can monitor the functionality of each traffic light.
“We began the process of doing that in 1998, but regrettably, we have not been able to succeed after four different ministers. They all claimed there was no money. We even got a befitting location at the Police Headquarters, Abuja, in 1998, but we are yet to develop the place because of N1.8billion involved in the design.”
Motorists described the state of traffic light system in Abuja as shameful, particularly at the city centre, the pride of the nation. An Uber driver who pleaded anonymity at Garki 2, Abuja, said he has been harassed and extorted several times by traffic officers:
“Police and other road traffic agents have taken advantage of the faulty system to extort drivers in Abuja. They strategically positioned themselves at these locations with their motorbikes and chased after motorists.
“They have done that to me several times until recently that I had to confront them. I made them understand that it was not my fault and but that of faulty traffic light system. I had to argue with the policeman until he saw reasons with me and that was after many people faulted his actions.”
Another driver, Effiong, made reference to the faulty traffic light at Three Arm Zone by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Abuja, which he said, has not received attention from the relevant authorities for very long before it was dismantled some weeks ago:
“The traffic light can best be described as confusion. I almost had head-on collision there some months ago. I was coming from Police Force Headquarters to Maitama. I never knew the light was working because there was no indication to that, only for me to see another driver from National Assembly axis, rushing to the road. I narrowly escaped. Few weeks ago, I saw accident there and it was a result of faulty traffic light system.”
Another motorist, Grace Ekele, had a terrible experience with another motorist who bashed her car at Wuse 2, by Paniel Apartment, because of faulty traffic light: “The light passed my lane but completely went off at the other side. The man thought the light had gone and jumped into the road with speed and ended up brushing my car. It was when he stopped that he realised that the light was working but with faulty bulbs.”
An electrical engineer, Abdulkadir Yushau, attributed regular failure of the traffic light system to poor maintenance, in addition to epileptic power supply which powers most of the traffic lights. He suggested increased patrol of various locations and most importantly, established a seamless communication channel with the public, and encourage them to regularly report any faulty traffic light system via a text or whatsapp message:
“Except for few traffic lights that are powered by solar energy, other rely solely on public power supply, which is not readily available at all times. In addition to that, some of bulbs get burnt and nobody is readily available to change it.”
He supported the building of UTC through which all traffic light system in Abuja could be monitored for improved efficiency.