As Abuja’s demography continues to grow rapidly on a daily basis, the need for and importance of pedestrian bridges or crossings in the nation’s capital cannot be over-emphasized.
These, mainly connect people from one point to the other, and are used in some basic dimensionsfor crossing highways, natural physical obstacles such as water bodies and railways.
Pedestrian bridges, in the nation’s capital, no doubt fall under the highway crossing category. Ultimately, safety and convenience are the overarching objectives of these essential footbridges wherever they are built.
Obviously, pedestrian bridges have a direct relationship with increase in human population, urbanization and city development.
According to The Safety Routes Guide, “the location selected for any bridge (including footbridges) is an important factor in its effectiveness” hence the imperative for strategic location of these structures across Nigeria’s Capital Territory.
Compared with the age of Abuja at 43, pedestrian bridges are a relatively new development here, apart from the ones located at Mogadishu Cantonment, popularly known as Abacha Barracks, and Nyanya, a satellite town on the boundary between FCT and Nasarawa State. This footbridges within Federal Capital City (FCC) and other parts of the Territory are a novel spectacle.
Before the World Bank pioneered construction of six pedestrian bridges within the FCC, in addition to the two earlier built by the FCT Administration (FCTA), several calls were made for the provision of this important facility which hitherto were non-existent.
From having no pedestrian bridges, the core of the nation’s capital presently boasts of many footbridges. Some of the bridges include the World Bank-funded footbridges located at NICON, Banex, Wuye and Old Secretariat Junctions, all along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Way; while the others are by the Sheraton Junction and Mabushi on the Shehu Yard’Adua Way.
Also, the 10-lane Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Kubwa Expressways all have a number of pedestrian bridges along them.
However, FCT residents are clearly shy of using pedestrian bridges where they exist, largely detesting them. Many residents rather prefer to walk, sprint or dart across the busy Abuja highways which in most cases are directly under those bridges.
There are varying reasons adduced by residents for not using the bridges. Some of these include inappropriate location, insecurity on the bridges, especially at night, conversion of same to markets, among others while others claim it is a waste of time having to use this life-saving facility!
Our investigation reveals that though some residents either flagrantly abuse or avoid the pedestrian bridges, many others appeal to the government to provide more bridges at really-needed strategic points.
They assert that due to unavailability of the bridges at the right spots where human beings converge in large numbers, they are compelled to scale road medians to cross the highways rather than walk long distances to where the bridges are located.
While we commend the authorities for constructing iron gauge fences along some of the highways to prevent ‘jaywalking’, it is at this point instructive to also call on the authorities to secure the bridges for 24-hour crossing and keep them tidy at all times by removing the petty traders on them.
It will also be impactful to launch effective, sustainable sensitization of members of the public in local languages on the importance and necessity of using the pedestrian bridges.
With the foundation for construction of new pedestrian bridges recently laid and work ongoing on the four sites along Abuja-Nyanya highway, Kubwa Road and behind Wuse market, Abuja Digest can only urge speedy completion of work and appeal for more, because there is no denying that the facilities have indeed saved many lives so far, even with just less than 50 per cent level of compliance by residents.