Abuja-Kaduna Gridlock: Thousands of travellers spend the night on road

Abuja-Kaduna gridlock as tanker drivers blocked the highway.
Abuja-Kaduna gridlock as tanker drivers blocked the highway. [PHOTO CREDIT: Mohammed Lere]

Despite the reopening of the Kaduna-Abuja road, as announced by the Kaduna State Government, thousands of road users passed the night on the road as the gridlock persisted.

The Kaduna-Abuja road was blocked by angry tanker drivers in the early hours of Friday.

The drivers insisted that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna meet with them before they remove their vehicles.

The drivers’ protest followed the killing of one of them by a police officer allegedly for refusing to pay N500 bribe.

Hours after the gridlock started on Friday, the Kaduna State commissioner of internal affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the state government has reached a truce with the tanker drivers.

Mr Aruwan said the road has been cleared for free movement and the state government has sent a delegation to condole with the family of the bereaved.

Despite the assurance of the Kaduna government, however, thousands of commuters were still stranded on the road.

A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, who was caught up in the gridlock and spent the night with other commuters, on the road, described it as a lifetime experience.

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Mohammed Lere’s vehicle arrived at the gridlock at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday and only arrived Kaduna on Saturday morning.

Travellers’ Experiences

Some travellers who spoke to our reporter said this was their worst experience ever on the road.

Malam Hafiu, who was travelling from Enugu to Sokoto, described it as a disaster.

“This is really a disaster for me. I never experienced this type of gridlock on an express road like this. We came and met this lockdown at about 3 p.m. on Friday. Nobody was moving. Thousands of cars were stranded.

“Only in my car, two little girls fainted. Children were crying in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

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A corps member, Elizabeth, told PREMIUM TIMES that she left Abuja for Kano to spend the Sallah break with her family.

“As we speak now I am so scared because it is not about just the gridlock, the road is notoriously known for banditry and kidnapping and here we are, free for kidnappers to feast on. I have been praying since we fell into this trap,” she said.

Another traveller, who identified himself as Simon, said the message by the Kaduna commissioner that the road had been cleared deceived him to embark on his journey.

“When I read on the news that the state has intervened and the road is free, I thought it was true.

“Look at me now, I would not have made the trip till Saturday,” he said.

Many travellers complained of hunger and lack of water to drink during the traffic jam.

A journey of two hours eventually became about 12 hours for many of the motorists, many of whom eventually got to Kaduna on Saturday morning.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who participated in clearing the gridlock, has thanked travellers for their patience and perseverance.

He once again commiserated with the family of the driver that was killed, saying the killing of the driver as a most unfortunate incident that must be thoroughly investigated. He welcomed the arrest of a police officer in connection with the case, assuring that the state government is awaiting the result of the investigation, the state government said in a statement.

“The governor apologised for the distress stranded commuters endured due to the road blockage,” the statement said. “He said that the reaction of the drivers who protested the killing of their colleague by blocking the highway amounted to unlawfully inflicting distress on innocent citizens. The consequence of the blockage was so so severe that it took several hours for the gridlock to clear, even after the barricades had been removed and the road opened.”

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