Tudunwada: Pain and panic of Abuja ghetto dwellers
Tudunwada, a community in Lugbe by the Federal Housing, in Anak Area Council, is a suburb in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Like most other urban and semi-urban towns and cities, Tudunwada is a true reflection of a Nigerian community where you find indigenes from virtually all the ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Inhabited by close to 60,000 dwellers, the community lacks basic amenities and facilities needed to make life worth living. Most houses are privately owned and are lacking in toilet facilities. As a result, wastewater from kitchens and bathrooms seep onto the streets and roads. Interestingly however, at the beginning of Tudunwada, there is a major drainage begging for wastewater.
The reporter gathered that the only tarred road around the area is the Federal Housing Road, a major link road to the Gwagwalada-Abuja Expressway. Also, the road is the only road that has a drainage system. The one at Tudunwada junction has a gully, and many people are said to have slipped into the channel. The community has no single motorable road. None of the existing roads has drainages. You could simply say that there is no government presence in this part of the FCT.
Wastewater, therefore, gushes out onto the roads and streets, forming pools of stagnant water and leaving the whole environment muddy, oozing with stench. The entire place is an eyesore. This ugly norm further compounds the problem of the already bad roads.
Of all the roads and streets in the area, however, the most notorious in terms of dilapidation is the Tudunwada Road.
The road stretches from Tudunwada junction (Federal Housing road) to the end of the community. It is the hub of commerce in the community. With the absence of an organised market, virtually every structure along the road is a shop where about 95 per cent of trading activities take place. Wastewater from the over 15 adjoining streets also streams onto Tudunwada road. The common practice here in waste disposal is to put your refuse in a plastic bag and stylishly drop it off on the road.
Tudunwada road is uneven and rocky. It was gathered that from time to time, shop owners in the area are tasked to facilitate the filling of the road. There is also a Celestial Church that carries out maintenance work. But all the palliative works have been unable to solve the problem.
Residents are hoping that the government would soon hear their cry and rehabilitate the road and other roads in the area. But they are also scared that the FCT authorities might decide to take over the area and drive them out.
Mrs. Nkem Okoronkwo, a civil servant and resident in the area spoke on the pains of travelling on the roads. “The roads here are too bad. Often, pregnant women fall off motorbikes. The authorities do not remember people in Tudunwada. Tudunwada is like a ghetto. People who live here cannot afford the exorbitant rents charged in Abuja metropolis.
“In Tidunwada, the mode of refuse disposal is to drop it on the roads for cars to smash. We don’t even have a gutter anywhere, so water from bathrooms and kitchens flow to the roads and make the whole area stink. Tudunwada stinks. But we’re enduring it because people are afraid to speak out for fear of demolition.
“Some will tell you that if government knows about Tudunwada now, they will come and demolish it and one of the Senators will buy it and build estates. They can do it because they say that Abuja is not for the poor. But the poor people who live in areas like this go to work for the rich in the metropolis. For instance, some people live here and work as housemaids, cooks, drivers, gardeners and security guards for top government officials in the city. So, they should spare us. Or do they want us to live in the sky?” she queried.
Most traders refused to comments for the fear of being dislodged by the authorities. One of them who pleaded anonymity attributed the present manageable state of the road to communal efforts and the Celestial Church.
Her words: “Sometimes, the community people make us to contribute money. For instance, last year, the road was too bad. Even the bridge was broken. So, they collected N2, 000.00 from each shop owner
to buy stones for filling. Some big men who appreciated their effort contributed more than two thousand naira. Sometimes too, the Cele church will do the road during their harvest.”
Narrating their experiences, some motorcycle operators popularly referred to as okada riders who ply roads in the area counted their losses. One of the operators, who identified himself simply as Ibrahim noted that even for pedestrians, it is a painful experience trekking on the road, let alone, riding a bike daily on the rough and dangerous surface.
Said he: “We do wheel balancing and other repairs almost daily. Some parts of the bikes even break always. I feel pain all over now. This is one problem most of us suffer. We are suffering and we are not happy. We want government to come and do something about the road. They should construct gutters to at least drain water.”
Mr. James Idasho, who hails from Nasarawa State, is also a motorcycle operator in Tudunwada. He said he too experiences daily body pains.
“We are not saying government should turn this place to Aso Rock. Let them feel our pains and construct good roads for us. Are we not part of the electorate? We spend the money we make on drugs and repairs. The problem is worse when it rains and the stones they use in filling the roads make matters worse because they are too large. Sometimes, passengers fall into the water. No matter how slow you go, after the day’s work, you must suffer the pains,” he said.
A female truck driver, Hajia Oluwatoyin Adesina, who was distributing beverages with her truck, also narrated her ordeal plying the roads in Tudunwada.
“I’ve been driving this truck for a year now. It is the struggle for survival that drove me into driving a truck. I own it and use it to distribute soft drinks. But I am not enjoying it. A few days ago, one of the tyres got burst. Again today, the back left tyre got burst. I changed it a while ago,” she told the reporter.
Daily Sun visited the Celestial Church of Christ, Supreme God Parish that was said to be maintaining the road. The Shepherd in-Charge, Most Superior Evangelist Isaiah Odubanjo, who said the church had existed in the area for 11 years, spoke on why the church decided to pay attention to the road.
He said the reason was to ensure free passage during the church’s annual harvest thanksgiving celebrations. “That’s why the elders of my church said we will be putting the road in good shape every year. We do it purposely because of our harvest. The road is not motorable. It is so bad.”
He said the church spent between N500, 000 and N600, 000 annually on the road, adding that it is a mark of exemplary leadership.
“We have over 30 churches in this community. But, this Cele church takes it upon herself to rehabilitate Tudunwada road. There is no form of development here. No road. No drainages. No water. In some areas, there’s no light. Some people have houses here with no toilets,” he said.
He told the reporter that the area had remained that way because residents fear there might be a demolition and acquisition by government if the ttention of the authorities is called to the plight of people of the area.
He recalled that under some former FCT ministers, there were attempts to demolish the area. He explained that through God’s intervention and some personal efforts, the moves were stalled. “We pray against demolition of Tudunwada. We bought these lands from Amak Council Area. But the condition of this community is so bad now,” he lamented.
“This place houses more than 50,000 people. If you come in here in the evening or at night and see how people troop to this place from their various places of work, you’ll realise that it would be a disaster to demolish Tudunwada.”
He disclosed that some of the villages in the FCT had been duly registered, noting that such places no longer had any fear of demolition. He said the desire of the people was for Tudunwada to be included in that list.
“We will thank the government because every year here, we pray for the government and do vigil for God to sustain Nigeria,” he stated.