From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
David Ogar, sells or rents hats to tourists who troop to Crushed Rock, Mpape, Abuja, for fun or just to take pictures. Although he has been living in Mpape for 12 years, he only discovered the spot last month, when he noticed the frenzy of recreational activities around the spot.
One of the characteristics of Abuja is that there are many rocks adorning its landscape. This feature keeps those in the business of blasting rocks busy in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). They extract stones from these quarries scattered across the city.
One of the sites is called Mpape. This particular site, like the rejected stone, was abandoned due to the large volume of water gushing out of the rock after a large part of it was quarried some years back.
The water has now formed a kind of lake. The Crushed Rock, Mpape, has now turned a new recreational spot in Abuja. From a vantage position, the rocky walls give the water a serene outlook. It is not certain whether people can swim in the water or how deep it is but the effect of its presence is therapeutic all the same.
There are different levels and elevations from which one can look at the water. The second is the most popular and the topmost level has a dizzying effect, which will not be advisable for anyone with acrophobia.
Ogar hinted that some people engage in water diving from the peak of the rock. But swimming activities have not been popularised there probably because, there is a warning that beneath the water are abandoned rock harvesting equipment, which will be extremely dangerous for divers.
According to some of the youths who claim to be maintaining the area, it was also abandoned after several accidents of dislodged crushed rocks destroyed homes, caused various degrees of injuries some of which led to fatalities.
Ogar said he and his neighbours in Mpape no longer suffer from miscreants who used to brake into their homes while they were at work or experienced armed robbery. This is because visitors to the crushed rock share the picnics food with them and pay them token amount for the little services rendered.
Peter, one of the young men keeping the area clean said the spot was made popular by musical artist, Tekno, who shot one of his music videos at the Crushed Rock Mpape: “Since then, Crushed Rock Mpape has caught the attention of tourists who troop there and post their pictures of their visits of this beautiful serene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.”
It has since become a spot for celebrating birthdays, photo shoots, relaxation, explorers, hikers, musical bands and food vendors.
Mpape is just some few minutes’ drive away from Maitama District. In fact, some parts of Mpape are referred to as Maitama Extension. Peter said Mpape was a spot residents openly defecated, hideout for miscreants and drug addicts: “But seeing the number of people it attracts at weekends, the youths of the area looking for daily bread have taken it upon themselves to police and clean it on a daily basis.
“The spot is busiest at weekends beginning from Fridays through Sundays. A live jazz/classical band is a frequent feature there entertaining fun seekers. The hemp smokers are still around though and they smoke it openly.”
Minister of State for FCT, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, said government may gazette it as a tourist spot and consequently put adequate security in place there: “Government is considering public/ private venture to turn the budding tourism site into a venture that would benefit residents of Mpape. The water will be recycled and treated for the consumption of the residents.”
Obinna Goodheart Johnesther who resides in Apo, Abuja, said: “Recently, my friends and I went on an adventurous visit to the Crushed Rock. We went picnicking under Excel Hikers, an adventure and hiking group. Before now, the Crushed Rock was unpopular, but now, it has grown to become the most sort-after adventurous site to visit in Abuja.
“We joined other folks who have formed the myriads of people calling every now and then at the tour haven, to experience the beauty and ecstasy of the quarrying site in Mpape, now turned a tourist attraction in Abuja.
“All callers and visitors at the Mpape Crush Rock would simply agree with my description of the haven, as a Nature’s Wonder in Abuja, worth exploring further and building on by all relevant government authorities in the FCT and Nigeria as a whole, in order to harness and expand the great potentials the tourist attraction brings to the tourism industry of Nigeria. If you are in Abuja, and or in any of the North Central States in Nigeria, make it a surprise visit to the Crush Rock, and thank me later.”
Toju Moses Boyo, a resident of Lokogoma, said: “The first time I heard about Crushed Rock, I felt like maybe pictures were just made to look fine, I was like Mpape, no, this can’t be real. But to clear all doubts, I had to go myself.
“I visited the place on a weekend and there was so much crowd and it was amazing. My expectations of the place was exceeded, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Crushed Rock has so far been my favourite place to go on a date because of the really cool pictures you can get from the place that makes you feel like you’re not in Nigeria.
“I definitely recommend visiting crushed rock to anyone coming to Abuja for the first time.”
Urunmatsoma Uduoghor Ethel, who resides in Arab Road, Kubwa-Abuja, doubted the spot is in Nigeria: “I was so amazed when I got there. I never believed I would see such a place in Nigeria it was superb the view was so beautiful.
“It’s indeed a crushed rock, a place where you can go with your crush for sightseeing and beautiful photographs. It was fun, I love the view and the weather was cool, it’s a nice place one can visit for picnic, little get together, nice place for pictures.”
The downside is that during rainy season, the road leading to the site is muddy and can be a turn-off for newcomers. The road veers off the main market of Mpape, which can be chaotic especially at weekends.
In addition, gangs barricade the road to collect passage fees from visitors. They can at times be unruly about it. However, since the FCT administration has shown interest in developing and listing the site, these bottlenecks would be taken care of.