“Sleeping inside the vehicle till the next day is not funny; it is risky. But what can one do when houses in Abuja are expensive for low income earners?”
Saidu Ibrahim, 38, has special love for his Honda Acura car. He makes anybody around him to know that. “I worship this car you are seeing. I am ready to die with anybody that plays with it,” the insurance worker told Daily Sun.
Ibrahim’s love for the car is not because of its sleekness or cutthroat cost. It is not on account of the fact that the car facilitates his movements. Rather it is because it serves as his home. “The car is my home and my everything. Losing this car is like losing my soul and liver,” he declared.
Ibrahim is not alone on this. Growing number of residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are converting their vehicles to bedrooms.
Every morning, some are seen crawling out of their vehicles where they pass the night. Not only do they sleep inside, they have their belongings tucked inside the booths of the vehicles. They always have sachet water, toothpaste and brush, and possibly mouthwash.
When the day breaks and Ibrahim wants to take his bath, he visits nearby hotels, pays a token of N100 and cleans up.
Investigations show that most people who indulge in the emerging lifestyle are men. They are seen everywhere, especially in hotel parking lots, motor parks, churches, school premises and sometimes, beside the fences of some homes.
This act is sometimes, facilitated by security personnel manning the areas, who tax these people before allowing them to park and doze off.
The growing habit has largely been attributed to the lack of affordable accommodation. Some people are of the opinion that practitioners are those who are involved in some domestic issues with their partners.
For 35-year-old commercial driver, Peter Jonas, the act is usually carried out when he travels outside his area of residence and does not have money to lodge: “I sleep inside my vehicle whenever I ferry passengers far from my home. Rather than risk my life or spend unnecessary money, I park in a safe place and sleep.
“If the heat is too much I wind down the glasses; but when it is cold, I wind up. You have to do that carefully so that you don’t die of suffocation. Even at that mosquitoes feed on us. But there is nothing someone can do. We must work hard to fend for the family.”
He also disclosed that the act has become very popular amongst drivers and traders, especially when there is fuel scarcity: “We, drivers, sleep in our vehicles to enable us wake up early to get fuel when we hear of scarcity. Not only that, when our houses do not have parking space, we give vigil inside to protect our battery from thieves.”
The case of Biodun Ajayi, 40, is different. Since he lost his job and unable to pay his rent he has turned his car to his bedroom. He explained that the continuous harassments from his landlord forced him to adopt the strategy pending when he would raise enough money to pay up the rent:
“Life is not easy. I stay in a two-bedroom apartment. Since I lost my job about one year ago, life has not been fair to me laced with the constant harassment from my landlord.
“Sleeping inside the vehicle till the next day is not funny; it is risky. But what can one do when houses in Abuja are expensive for low income earners or jobless youths?”
Mr. Musa Abdul, narrated how he was severely beaten the day he slept in his car when it packed up. “It was in December last year, when my car was faulty around the Central Business District. Since it was late, I decided to sleep inside till the next morning. In the middle of the night, some guys, banged on my car and tried to open the door. As soon as they noticed that someone was inside, they intensified the banging until I opened the door.
“They dispossessed me of my money, phones and removed my car battery not without beating me thoroughly. Since that encounter, I have made up mind to always go home no matter how late to avert such brutality.”