The ban was enacted to reduce traffic in the city centre.
Thousands of commuters in Abuja are finding it difficult to get to and from their places of work, following the new transport policy in the Nigerian capital.
On Monday, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, commenced the implementation of a directive banning commercial buses popularly known as Araba from plying routes within the main city centre.
The Secretary of the Transport Secretariat of the FCTA, Jonathan Ivoke, at news conference, said that, henceforth, only licensed high capacity buses would be allowed to provide mass transit services in Abuja; while mini buses would operate at the satellite towns and other area councils. He added that the purpose of the policy is to move people en-mass, reduce the time wasted in the traffic and improve the economy.
However, on Monday and Tuesday, there were long queues at bus stops as the number of high capacity buses provided were low compared to the number of commuters. Also, there were traffic jams on some major roads as proper parking slots were not provided for the buses at the regulated bus stops.
At about 10 a.m. on Monday, Ngozi Olu, a nursing mother was seen at Area 1, with her four months old baby in her arms, futilely struggling with other desperate commuters to board a private car.
“I’ve been out here since 7am hoping to get an araba to take me to the hospital for my baby’s check up. It’s now 10 a.m. and I’m still here. Private cars have tried to help but before I get there people will rush and struggle to get in, I cannot struggle with them because of my baby,” she said
Those coming from high density areas like Massaka and Mararaba also found it difficult thanks to the ban.
A commuter who simply identified himself as Chuks told PREMIUM TIMES that it was difficult getting from his home in Masaka to his workplace in Wuse as the FCTA buses do not get Masaka.
“There is no place for (the buses) to park in Masaka. I had to trek from Masaka to Nyanyan where I hoped to get a bus. On getting there, I found only a few buses and a very long queue,” he said.
Christopher Chukule, a public servant, expressed his disappointment in the authorities approach to enacting the ban.
“It’s sad that people are stranded, thinking that the government policy is going to work for them but there is insincerity in their approach. The government should be steadfast in whatever they are doing,” he said
The commuters also complained about the bus fare, which instead of being affordable was higher than expected.
Kenneth Nwalla who lives in Masaka said, “I usually pay just N150 from Masaka to Wuse but now I have to pay N200. Also, rather than a direct bus, I have to get to Nyanya first where I’ll then get a bus going to Wuse.”