By McPatrick Michael Linus, Abuja
Taxis and trucks arrive and leave all the time, with their horns blaring, motor touts shouting for passengers; random noise from hawkers and street urchins among others. These are the sights and sounds of Deidei – one of Abuja’s most crowded suburbs.
The town is home to many Nigerians, mostly low-income earners; who are predominantly artisans, street hawkers, site laborers, drivers, food vendors, concoction sellers, just to mention a few.
This community is also notorious for so many activities and a safe haven for criminals, street urchins, beggars, not forgetting hawkers of mint Naira notes.
As early as 5 am, these members of the society are already awake for the day’s activities. Their homes are usually makeshift tents, scattered all round the community.
Others simply take cover at worship centers, kiosks and under the bridge; where they wake up to harass law abiding citizens. To them, hustle is the name of the game.
A brief tour of Deidei by Neptune Prime’s correspondent shows a forgotten community. Needless to mention that social amenities completely elude this part of the nation’s capital; just like similar suburbs.
The pedestrian bridge has become home to the homeless who use their bag of belongings for pillows for a night’s sleep.
Dei-Dei’s drainages are completely blocked with refuse dump.According to the residents, operatives of Abuja Environmental Protection Board only come around to extort the poor traders instead of carrying out their primary duty of keeping the city clean.
“Deidei is a forgotten community; we’re at the mercy of God. Criminal elements have taken over the affair and determine what happens here; despite being bordered by the biggest mobile police barrack in the country,” said a petrol station manager who did not want to be named.
Thuggery and all forms of madness are at its apex in Deidei. Drug abusers, ladies of easy virtue among other unsavory characters rule the streets here.
Neptune Prime’s reporter, during a tour of the area, witnessed how young men lay on the streets and bridges, albeit lifeless from abuse of substances, high from drugs and other substances, and rolled around on the ground while crowds gathered to watch.
A great number of them wake up to the day’s business from the many shacks scattered all over the community. In fact these illegal structures constitute about 40% of the houses in Dei-dei.
The community is unique for several reasons. In fact, Deidei is one town that falls within two area councils – Abuja Municipal Area Council and Bwari at the same time. Driving to Zuba from Kubwa express way, the right side falls under Bwari while the left is AMAC.
It is on this high way that most of the traders prefer to transact their small businesses ignoring all warnings from concerned citizens and authorities. Hardly does a week pass without a vehicle knocking down either a pedestrian or a trader who tries crossing the ten lane road against using the beautiful pedestrian bridge constructed for this purpose.
As stated earlier, impunity of commercial drivers reaches its peak on this express way. They park, load and disembark passengers right on the middle of the road, consequently holding other road users to ransom. You either keep horning till they make way or patiently wait for them to finish at their convenience.
Accomplices to all the madness are members of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). Instead of warning the drivers to leave the highway and make use of designated parks and carriages, they rather encourage them to obstruct the free flow of traffic even on freeways damning the consequences.
Neptune Prime gathered that a truck ran into a group of street hawkers a forth night ago injuring many and destroying goods worth thousands of Naira.
Similarly, businesses were halted about a month earlier when a tanker fell and blocked the road at the front of NNPC mega station leading to massive traffic gridlock for hours.
However, amidst all these unsavory activities, legitimate businesses still thrive at Deidei. Traders and roadside food vendors daily smile to the banks. To them, the chaotic daily experience in the community is a blessing in disguise.
Furthermore, the community is of course famous for building materials and other related products. And large numbers of those in this sector are the Igbo people. Although they also complain of poor patronage as a result of the recession, they say business is not too bad because; their products and services are in high demand as construction projects are constantly ongoing in Abuja.
Nevertheless, the residents of Dei-Dei are appealing to the FCT administration to double their presence in the community. Top on these demands is the deployment of law enforcement agents to help curtail and tame the menace of motor touts; who constitute 80% of the lawlessness at Deidei.
By McPatrick Michael Linus, Abuja