By Idris Isah, Abuja
It has been a running battle between the Federal Capital Territory Joint Task Force (FCT JTF) and the FCT Taxi operators including the Painted Abuja Taxi (PAT) operating in the city center over the last four years.
While the FCT Transport Secretariat has insisted on decongesting city center roads from indiscriminate parking, traffick blockages especially by taxi drivers, the taxi operators have accordingly demanded delineation of official pick and drop parks to reduce their costs, instead of wandering without passengers to pick.
FCT Transport Secretariat in its own designed directed that taxis operating in the city center can only pick and drop while on the move without any special park.
Since 2017, there were pockets of protests by the duo of Painted Abuja Taxi (PAT) and Concern Taxi Drivers (CTD) of AMAC against the FCT Ministerial JTF harassment at their temporal Wuse market bridge park close to the PAT’s national secretariat, Garki area 1 and other places.
While the PAT backed up their demand for non harassment with its previous letter to the FCT Minister demanding temporary park pending official permanent allocation, CTD too had its official request letter earlier submitted and acknowledged by the office of FCT Commissioner of Police dated August 16th 2016 at hand.
An Assistant Director and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Transport Secretariat, Mr Ifanyi Ughamadu said their policies guiding taxi operators in the city center approved only pick and drop for taxi operators without park.
Ughamadu said, “Taxi are to pick, and move. If you allow them, they will usually pack to pick passengers on the road, blocking traffic. The buses have packing spaces to pick passengers”.
“To provide parking space for all taxes in the city is not possible, they can pick passengers from those bus stops created for buses. Why we crested terminal park for Mass Transit Busses is that the FCT Administration banned Araba (Painted buses) from operating in the city center so that taxi can pick from the terminus”.
However, the President of Painted Commercial Taxi Association (PCTA), Shehu Shugaba Yar’adua told the News Direct during the weekend that the association has temporarily resolved the issue of parking space with the FCT Transport Secretariat. He however remained worried over the activities of illegal (kabu kabu) operators in the city.
“The Transport Secretariat headed by Rev. Kayode has ensured there is temporary park for us to pick and drop passengers. The creation of park for our men in Wise zone 6 here, has helped to stabilise our operations and everyone is happy for it”.
“Those who are using their private cars to operate in the city commit crime involving ‘one chance’. Those are the kabu kabu we are talking about. People don’t generalise all taxes as kabu kabu. These are the only challenges we have for now”.
However, the case of those referred to as Concern Taxi Drivers of AMAC, FCT is still pending and so, they are still operating on illegal basis.
One of the drivers told the News Direct “ Though we operate along road side by zone 6 garden by Wise market, loading Life camp, Karimu and Zuba, our members are registered with NURTW, NARTO, SECDA. Our appeal to be re – allocated another part is yet to be realised, making JTF to be chasing us each time they comes around here”.
“We drivers don’t supposed to be working as if we are criminals. We are supposed to work with confidence, serving the people and making a living and not and criminals to be chased about and we pays revenue to the government”.