A few weeks to the end of the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration, the nation’s capital is witnessing fresh installation of traffic lights, PUNCH Reports:
Residents of Nigeria’s capital have suddenly discovered that major junctions of the city are sparkling with lights shortly after the declaration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Our correspondent observed the rehabilitation of old traffic lights, which had stopped functioning for years, and the installation of new ones at road junctions that previously had no light.
Some of the new traffic lights are at Jabi, Utako, Kado, Gwarimpa, Garki, Maitama, Asokoro, Kubwa as well as in the satellite towns. But many residents are quick to attribute the action of the Federal Capital Territory Administration to the impending change in government because the contract had been awarded a long time ago with the contractors fully mobilised. Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent, said that the installation of the traffic lights was belated, arguing that the project would have taken another two to three years to actualise if the Peoples Democratic Party had won the election.
For instance, Mallam Kabiru Sani, a taxi driver, alleged that the FCTA was rushing the project so that it would be able to retire the money already voted in its 2014 budget. He said, “The FCTA claimed that it had installed Closed Circuit Television in every nook and cranny of Abuja, yet there were bomb blasts all over the place without the police being able to arrest the perpetrators. “The management of FCTA knows that the incoming administration will probe its extravagant spending. I am sure this explains why the contractors are rushing the projects.”
According to a journalist, Mr. Taiye Odewale, the project is a welcome development because it will bring about orderliness and sanity in vehicular traffic in the city. He said, “Most times, the traffic wardens are not always at their duty posts, especially in the afternoon and during downpours, thereby causing commotion”.
Also, Mr. John Okafor, a businessman, urged the FCTA to extend the facility to the Arab Road area of Kubwa, one of the new satellite areas where the Federal Government is currently constructing rail lines. He said, “The extension of the traffic light to the area would help to prevent accidents whenever the trains begin operation.”
In his reaction, the Acting Director, Public Transportation in the FCTA, Mr. Vincent Igberaese, attributed the delay in the execution of the project to budgetary constraints. He said that 74 new traffic lights were installed in addition to already existing 88. According to him, Abuja now has 162 traffic lights in the various major junctions across the FCT.
But the leadership of the All Progressives Congress accused the Jonathan administration of engaging in a last-minute project execution ahead of the May 29 handover date. The party’s Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, in a statement, alleged that reports from the media as well as information gathered from reliable sources suggested that the outgoing administration was engaged in rushing award of contracts. The party also alleged that the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, had embarked on secret recruitment of about 500 fresh members of staff into the Federal Capital Development Authority.
The APC therefore asked Jonathan to caution his officials, lest they engage in actions that could later embarrass his administration.