Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Tackling traffic congestion, the Southern Park Way model

As one of the fastest rising cities in Africa, the nation’s capital, Abuja, has experienced unprecedented population growth in recent times, as thousands throng into the city on a daily bases in search of greener pastures.

This population bloat has stretched facilities and infrastructure, including contributing to traffic congestion on major roads across the city.

Recognising the issue of urban migration, the FCT Minister Mal. Muhammad Bello had recently quoted information from the UN Habitat projects that about 70 percent of the world’s population would migrate to the urban centres by 2050, hence the need to plan for this massive influx in the FCT.

It is therefore not surprising that the Federal Capital Territory Administration has recently devised ingenious ways of addressing some of these challenges.

From constituting a ministerial traffic task team on traffic decongestion, to the opening up new roads, the FCT Administration has continued to come up with sustainable solutions to the daunting traffic problems across the territory.

The recent opening of the one-way directional road traffic on the Southern Park Way is one of such approach at tackling the traffic congestion in the Federal Capital City.

Barely one week since the official opening of the road, commuters are already experiencing free traffic flow from the NTA headquarters, through the Central Mosque and the Yar’adua Centre.

Speaking at the official opening of the 21kilometer road, the FCT Minister Muhammas Bello, explained that in the last few years, the FCT Administration has spent a lot of time and resources in the completion of major arterial roads within the city while expressing joy that most of them have reached the level of completion and could now be opened to the public.

“This is one particular project on which we have spent an enormous amount of time and resources because without completing this project, the northern and southern sectors of Abuja would not be connected. We’ve allowed traffic movement for the last few months just to allow construction to continue. But we have reached a certain milestone where we will now start enforcing the traffic system”.

He described infrastructure in Abuja as second to none in Africa, the Minister commended the efforts of Engineers of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, and SETRACO, the contractors handling the project, for a job well done while urging the contractors to expedite efforts to ensure 100 per cent completion of the project.

He said, “I’m so pleased to say that the partnership between the FCDA and SETRACO Nigeria Limited has been very beneficial to the city because I’m sure all of you know that the twin bridges were concluded about the same time and you can see how these bridges were able to link the northern and the southern parts of the city”.

He commended President Buhari’s desire to fix basic infrastructure in the country adding that it is the foundation for any meaningful development.

“They approved two very important projects- the continuation of phase two of the Abuja Light Rail project as well as the widening of the Greater Abuja Water Works.  These are all very fundamental legacy projects, the benefits of which we will see in many years to come”, he said.

“For us, this is a very important project. It also underscores the cardinal principle of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, which is infrastructure, because the way that Nigeria is growing and cities like Abuja are growing, if we do not complete major infrastructure projects, it will affect our economic development.”

The Southern Park Way, which is the cultural spine of Abuja, is a road complex traversing four key roads in the city’s main business districts of Garki and Central Business District with a complex network of access ways connecting the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and the Nigeria Television Authority.

The remaining stretch of the road which ends at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway has also been completed.

To also ensure rapid development in other segments of the transport sector, the minister assured a delegation from the Aviation ministry that the FCT Administration will provide complementary infrastructure services to ensure that the Nigerian Aviation Sector Roadmap is successfully implemented in the FCT.

Bello described the Aviation Roadmap as a legacy project that would have immense impact on the economy of the FCT and country as a whole, especially in the areas of infrastructure development, job creation and contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

He noted that the geometric rise in Abuja’s population has led to increased demand for aviation services, said the Aviation Roadmap was coming at a very good time.

Bello said as part of its efforts towards improving the city’s aviation landscape, he said the FCT Administration recently rehabilitated the nearly two kilometers stretch of road leading to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in order to cater for the ever growing need of the airport.

He also revealed that the Administration is working towards the eventual relocation of aboriginal settlements around the airport to widen its base, adding that provisions have been for the payment of compensation and resettlement of the inhabitants of these villages.

The Minister further disclosed that efforts were being made to link the Abuja Airport rail station to the main terminal. To this end, he said the first set of coaches meant to be used for this purpose have been shipped already.

According to the minister, “What we have presently are coaches that were meant for the trial phase. But the real coaches in the beautiful Nigerian colour of green, white, green will be here shortly and ultimately, before the end of the year, we will have like 12 sets meant to run the entire route from the city up to the airport and with the spur to Bwari and Idu.

“Ultimately, by the time about two sets of coaches arrive, we intend to run an Airport Express which will just take you from the Abuja Metro Station at the Central Business District to the airport in 18 minutes”.

The FCT Minister, while commending the Aviation Ministry for the  good work it is doing to reposition the aviation sector, said the FCT Administration will give all the needed support to the aviation roadmap, adding that FCT stands to benefit from the project, more than any other community in the country.

“It is very good news because of the multiplier effects in terms of employment generation, economic activities and of course also, providing needed IGR for us, either dire

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