Officials of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council under the Federal Capital Territory Administration, on Saturday, March 24, 2018, carried out an exercise to remove shanties at the Gosa Market along the Abuja Airport Road. The whole idea behind the removal, as was stated, was to clean the area and free it from obstructing traffic moving into the city of Abuja.
Prior to the demolition, these officials, in line with laid down regulations, met several times with the owners of the illegal stalls to make them understand the need to keep the airport expressway free from obstruction so as to save lives and property against frequent accidents.
The case was also made that the airport expressway being the main gateway to the country could not afford to have such unsightly and unplanned structures littering the whole area, giving visitors a wrong impression about the country. It was further agreed that the traders would limit their activities to 500 metres away from the expressway.
Unfortunately, these illegal stalls continued to spring up and spill right onto the expressway, thereby endangering the lives of motorists plying that very important gateway to the city and leading to numerous accidents with casualties.
One could therefore understand why the FCT Administration took the path it did in clearing these illegal structures to save the Abuja master plan from needless distortions. This is because some of these developments, if left unchecked, have the potential to derail the city from the visions of its founding fathers and turn Abuja into an urban slum.
However, following that demolition, some of the aggrieved persons cashed in and set up bonfires on the road leading to traffic obstruction and heavy gridlock on that very important road. Some of them even claimed that they were not informed before the demolition took place which clearly is not the case because these traders, mainly of the Gbagi extraction, had in the past staged similar protests against the planned relocation of the market.
Much as one may want to sympathise with the traders whom it would seem have had their major source of livelihood cut off abruptly, the fact however cannot be overlooked that their activities along the airport road had become a major source of concern due to the danger they posed to motorists and the city’s ambience.
Those familiar with that route would agree that the uncontrolled expansion of the Gosa Market led to the pedestrian paths and service lanes becoming part of the market, further making it a nuisance to road users. The place equally became inundated by commercial vehicles and the road began to witness cases of recklessness on the use of the roads.
This is the reason for some of the accidents being witnessed on that road due to regular cases of gross violation of traffic rules with motor cyclists and cab drivers running against traffic in order to do brisk business. Travellers on the Airport road on a daily basis, especially on Fridays also suffered untold hardships on their ways, to and fro Abuja, as they had to endure gruelling traffic hold-ups occasioned by traders blocking the road which also resulted to missing of flights and time wastage.
The action of the FCT Administration therefore became inevitable which no doubt is with a view to saving lives and arresting gross violation of traffic rules on a major gateway to the city.
But the administration also proved it still remains sympathetic to the cause of these traders as what it has done so far is to remove the empty stalls in the area, sparing the containers that were under lock and key with wares inside them but with further instruction that they must be removed before their next visit.
It is also gladdening to see that another location has been identified much deeper into the Gosa community with a capacity to accommodate over 1,500 traders as well as a parking space for about 500 cars.
So, rather than staging protests and taking the law into their own hands by obstructing the expressway with bonfires and roadblocks, the affected traders should go into dialogue with the FCTA to fast-track the process of settling into the new location that has been set aside for the market.
Danladi Akilu, Gudu District, Abuja