Enugu’s abandoned, weeds-infested bus stops
The sight of commuters waiting for commercial cabs and buses, under scorching sun, with streams of sweats cascading down their faces, is always a distressing one.
Matters are worse when there is a downpour, which usually gets commuters drenched before they could secure sheds to take shelter.
It was in a bid to put an end to these, address the indiscriminate picking up, and dropping off of passengers, and other such situations that the state government erected bus stops in strategic locations across Enugu city centre, to provide temporary shelter for transiting residents.
The initiative was to also ensure orderliness and put an end to the indiscriminate picking of passengers by commercial drivers.
Three years ago when the structures were erected, during the immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime, they were well received and well used by the residents.
Officials of the Ministry of Environment then undertook regular cleaning and maintenance of the bus stops, which were lit up at night.
Presently, however, these bus stops have become an eyesore, and are avoided by residents, who have returned to huddling under trees and other spaces while waiting for commercial vehicles.
This development has brought back the brazen disorderliness, which the old order represented as commercial vehicles now drop and pick passengers randomly
Beyond this, the location of some of the bus stops, aid and abet traffic gridlock, along major roads, especially when several vehicles are jostling for passengers, or lined up in anticipation of arrival of passengers.
In some other locations, the facilities were erected on pedestrian walkways, and in others, sited just inches away from traffic light stands. The presence of high number of users of the facility at any point in time, usually narrows the road and inconveniences motorists.
The Guardian found out that commuters’ discontinuance of the usage of the bus stops began when government neglected regular maintenance of some of them. Over time, many of them got encircled by grasses, which have grown taller than the bus stops as in the case of Asata and Dayspring bus stops.
In the same vein, some of the bus stops became structures for posting obituary, religious or political posters, served as refuse dumps, or accommodation for mentally challenged persons, while their environs also served as emergency toilets and urinals for pressed passerby and destitute of the city.
For the ones located in secluded areas, hoodlums found the “forested” surroundings, a safe haven to hide, from where they dispossessed unsuspecting road users of their valuables.
Stories abound of people losing money, handbags, phones and jewelries to these unscrupulous elements.
This was one of the initial reasons why some commuters preferred to hang by the roadside, while waiting for taxies and buses.
Not long ago, a member of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Paul Nnajiofor, moved a motion, asking concerned authorities to ensure the removal of posters that litter the facilities, and ban residents from posting handbills of any kind on them.
Nnajiofor, who had lamented that the facilities, constructed with public funds were not serving the intended purpose, owing to the activities of a few, urged the concerned ministry to take care of them.
Although the city dwellers were cautioned against plastering the facilities with posters, by the Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ESCTDA), it appears that the agency requires another motion of the state Assembly to tidy them up, as they are still heavily rubbish-laden.
A resident, Mr. Ugochukwu Onah, told The Guardian: “I really don’t think that our government officials are bothered about the present condition of these bus stops. They clear some road junctions that have been taken over by weeds and show little concern about the bus stops. The way some of these bus stops are, hardly can one believe that dangerous animals do not inhabit them.”
He expressed worries at the development, especially realising that, “these stands are located in the capital city. They have become unkempt and I think the government agency that is responsible should find ways of clearing them and ensuring they are put back to good use.”
Even as dishevelled as the bus stops currently are, spokesperson of ESCTDA, which erected the bus stops in 2014, Mrs. Amaka Eze, claimed that the agency has continued to maintain and cater for them routinely.
“We have always ensured that any of them that collapses is restored. We have also ensured that the surroundings are kept clean and tidied up at all times. The only problem is that we are in a society where anything goes. We are doing something to clear the bushes around some of the bus stops.”
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