Abuja motor parks at yuletide: How safe?
As the yuletide sets in, the security of travellers at several bus terminals in the Federal Capital Territory has been on the front burner of discussion amongst stakeholders.
The concern of most residents about the parks has to do with ugly experiences of recent the past, and the need to prevent any acts of terrorist act.
Recall that a number of motor parks were hit in the peak of the Boko Haram saga in 2014 in some parts of the country including Abuja.
The Karota motor park was bombed in Kano, in April 2014, the deadly group attacked the Nyanya motor park in Abuja, killing several with many others injured. Barely three weeks after the initial attack, another bomb blast ripped through the neighbourhood of the park, killing 12 persons with 30 others wounded.
With the series of attacks in motor parks and other public places, it is therefore not surprising that many are worried that the ‘December’ rush in the motor parks may be disrupted with another attack. Some residents who spoke to METRO therefore called for more concerted effort in securing the parks.
Stakeholders in the transport sector have however assured residents that the security of lives and properties are guaranteed in motor parks in Abuja as measures are being put in place to wade-off miscreants from motor parks.
Speaking with our correspondent on the issue, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of New Nyanya Motors, Chief Samuel Heinz, said it is unfortunate that in recent times motor parks have become targets for attacks. He said management of motorparks need to partner with government to ensure the safety of lives and property in their parks.
He advised park owners to install basic security equipment such as body scanners, and cctv for monitoring.
“We as major stakeholders in the transportation business have not relented as we continue to ensure that our passengers get to their destinations safe. We all have a role to play in ensuring that we end the insurgency in Nigeria.
“For instance, we at New Nyanya, our terminals are fenced, with visible security presence, and well lighted street lights to ensure that nothing is hidden, even in the dark. We also partner with security agencies, who are always around to ensure orderliness, like the police, army, plain cloth agents. Government as the regulator is not also leaving anything to chance, we have met severally to discuss the issue and we have been complying with the measures agreed.”
According to him, stakeholders such as the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, need to be security conscious and report all suspicious movement to security agents.
Also speaking on the issue, a member of the NURTW, at the Area 3 motor park, Abubakar Umar, is of the view that security checks at the bus stops should be taken a notch higher. He said unlike before when travellers were weary of checks, now most Nigerians willingly allow security checks
He said, “We presently enjoy better cooperation from members of the public. Before now, most passengers don’t allow us scan their luggage, they get irritated at the least attempt to stop and ask them what they have in their bags, but now, it seems a lot of them understand that insecurity is a public concern that must be fought by all.
“We are very vigilant now, we search vehicles before they go inside the park and police is always around to arrest troublemakers, we are doing our best. But if government can provide bomb detectors to motor parks it will be better.”
On the successes so far recorded in the fight against insurgents, a passenger, Martha Odey, urged security agencies not to get carried away by the relative calm now being experienced in most parts of the country.
“Though we must acknowledge that the army has gained some grounds in the fight against Boko Haram, and that most parts of the country, especially the FCT, has been peaceful, the police and other security agencies should not relax, so that they are not taken unawares,” she said.
David Okolie, another traveller, is of the opinion that from December, going forward, Hijab should be banned at bus terminals, “if you wear it to the park you should remove it. Since those who carry out these bombings hide them under their hijabs. We must tell ourselves the truth if we want to end these killings, as soon as possible, especially during this festive season.”
Okolie hinged his suggestion on the fact that most of the recent attacks have been carried out by suicide bombers who conceal explosive devices under their hijabs. A number of male suicide bombers were also discovered to have disguised as women wearing hijabs to divert attention from themselves, before carrying out their nefarious acts.
METRO observed that human traffic was already building up at most motor parks as residents have started moving out of Abuja in preparation for the Christmas celebrations.