Thousand of commuters in the Federal Capital Territory were stranded on Monday as mini-buses popularly called “Araba” were disallowed from entering the city centre. The decision to restrict the operation of the buses to certain areas in the suburbs was in line with a policy which would ensure the replacement of the minibuses with high capacity buses.
Operations of minibuses have thus been restricted to satellite towns and area councils within the federal capital. Street Journal reporters took a trip round and as early as 6.30 am, passengers had gathered around bus stops waiting for buses to convey them to Wuse in the heart of the territory. Most were however disappointed as the bus drivers refused to take the risk of getting to Wuse. Passengers around the Gaw Gwa and Karmo axis were offered the choice of alighting at Life Camp as that was the closest they were allowed to go to the city centre. Having waited for some time without seeing any high capacity bus, most passengers decided to trek to places where they could get cabs to convey them.It was the same for passengers coming into town from the Nyanya axis. Many got to work late as a result of the policy change. Minibus operators too cashed in on the opportunity to hike their fares, for instance, the fare from Idu to Life Camp which was N 50 before the restriction order was hiked to N 100 on Monday. Despite the increase however, passengers rushed to enter the few minibuses that were available.
Senator Bala Mohammed, the FCT Minister disclosed that the high capacity buses will move people in large numbers and also reduce the time spent in traffic. The Minister also noted that the policy which he said would improve the economy of the FCT was in the overall interest of all residents and visitors coming into the Federal Capital.
It has also been stated that with the new policy, tricycle operations would be restricted to designated housing estates and satellite towns. One of the commuters who spoke to Street Journal opined that “most policies in Nigeria are not in favour of the poor. Now where are the high capacity buses? You can see people walking to work, Nigerians have adapted to suffering so with time, we will adapt.” In the view of Chuks, another passenger, the security situation will be affected by the policy. “The police will have more work to do because the crime rate will increase. Remember that these Araba bus owners have families, how will they feed them? and these days that graduates don’t even have jobs, what is the chance that an agbero (tout) will be employed? I will just advice that when you are coming from work in the evening, hold your bag well because boys will soon be getting angry”.