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How gaps in FCT transport system endanger residents’ lives




INSUFFICIENT number of commercial vehicles in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has resulted in more security risks for residents.

With the influx of people into Abuja, available vehicles are no longer sufficient to meet the transport needs of residents, leaving many at the mercy of private car owners who convey passengers to different destinations for a fee.

Criminal gangs have also capitalised on the situation to dispossess residents of their valuables as they patrol the city in vehicles, disguising as transporters.


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Fake transporters who engage in such acts are called “one-chance drivers” in Nigeria.

In an encounter with one of such gangs, an Abuja resident, Patience Caleb, lost the sum of N117,000.

Caleb said she stood below Banex bridge one evening in August 2021, waiting for a vehicle heading to Lugbe.

There was a large crowd at the bus stop, and the few cabs that stopped to pick passengers attracted a mad rush from bystanders.

She had waited for over 40 minutes without success when a vehicle stopped very close to where she stood.

Although the vehicle was not painted in the green and white colours of most Abuja taxis, Caleb hastily jumped into the car, and the driver sped off.

“There was a man also sitting at the back, I thought he was a passenger. At first I was a bit worried that the driver didn’t wait for others to enter. But he gave the excuse that he didn’t want the crowd to damage his car,” she said.

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A few minutes into the journey, the other occupant ordered her to hand over her belongings and brandishing a knife, he threatened to kill her if she failed to comply.

“It was like a movie. He brought out a small knife and threatened to kill me if I didn’t give him my bag. I didn’t have much money on me, and when he found out, he started beating me.

“They took my ATM card and pin from me and drove to a machine where they withdrew all my money after which they threw me out of the moving vehicle,” she said.

Caleb said she sustained several injuries from the encounter that left her hospitalised for days.

Many residents of the FCT have similar experiences as the criminal act is not new within the city.

The ICIR had reported how 43-year-old Richard Atoo sustained over thirty knife injuries after an attack by “one-chance drivers” in 2019.

He had boarded a vehicle at Area 8, Garki, occupied by the driver and two other men who posed as passengers. His mobile phones were collected from him, through which his bank account was accessed.

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Atoo had left his ATM card at home, which made it difficult for the criminals to withdraw the money without being traced.

“I guess that infuriated them. They started stabbing me in many places. They had a gun too. I think at a point they thought I was dead because there was blood all over the car. The whole place was messed up. Anytime they struck me, I would feel blood splattering everywhere!” he told The ICIR.

Attempts to eradicate this act led to establishing the Anti-One Chance Squad by the FCT Police Command in 2018, but the criminal activity persists.

A failing transport system

The problem of “one-chance drivers” is worsened by a failing transport system in the FCT, despite the presence of the Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited (AUMTCO) established in 1984.

The AUMTCO was created to develop a sustainable transport system within the FCT, but according to a report by The ICIR, poor planning has contributed to the scheme’s failure.

While residents struggle daily for means of transportation, vehicles commissioned under the scheme can be seen parked along the Kubwa expressway in bad condition and disuse.

Head of Administration and Human Resources at AUMTCO, Musa Bello, had told The ICIR that the company was finding it difficult to break even. He said the lack of enforcement of transport regulations prohibiting private car owners from picking passengers was a contributory factor.

He also cited the high cost of maintenance, lack of profit and a decline in investors as reasons why damaged vehicles remain out of use.

Out of over 500 vehicles commissioned under the AUMTCO, only about 150 are functional.

Left with no other alternatives, residents continue to patronise unregistered taxis and private vehicles, exposing themselves to the attendant security risks.

The ICIR contacted the Public Relations Officer of the FCT Transport Secretariat, Ifeanyi Ughammadu, on steps being taken to address the transport challenges, but he could not be reached at the time of filing this report.

As at the time of filing this report, Public Relations Officer of the FCT Police Command Josephine Adeh did not respond to enquiries by The ICIR on steps being taken to address the  ‘one-chance’ menace.

Author profile

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org or @ije_le on Twitter.

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