With the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari only few days to come to an end, there is need for the Federal Capital Territory Administration
(FCTA) and federal government to pay more than passing attention to the safeguard of critical infrastructure in Abuja.
This is even as the relevant security agencies and officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) responsible for the infrastructural development of FCT must tackle open manholes menace in Abuja.
Prompt News investigations revealed that most
manhole covers in FCT are without the covers as miscreants and unpatriotic citizens, and maybe non-citizens of Nigeria, have removed all the covers of the manholes in Abuja.
The theft of manhole covers by scavengers popularly called ‘Baba Mbola’ in FCT cut across the six Council Areas of Abaji, AMAC, Bwari, Kuje, Kwali and Gwagwalada but the most hit is AMAC which houses the seat of federal government and its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) offices.
A drive around Abuja metropolis revealed that most manhole covers have been removed and carted away by the thieves without any trace of who they are and where they take the stolen items to for disposal even as accusing fingers always point to scavengers aka Baba Mbola.
Worst hit areas where manhole covers have been removed by the thieves are Wuse, Garki, Apo, Maitama, Asokoro, Katampe, Jabi, Life Camp, Utako, Gwarimpa and Lugbe.
Others areas are in Gudu District, Games Village, Apo Resettlement, Lokogoma and many places in the city where such infrastructure exists.
Manhole covers have also been removed along the busy Umaru Yar’Adua Expressway or Airport road, IBB Way, Yakubu Gowon Road, Okonjo–Iweala road and Kado road.
High level of vandalisation of public properties including the stealing of manhole covers in Abuja have continued unabated over the years despite the clarion call by the House of Representatives on the FCTA and FCDA to tackle open manholes menace in Abuja.
The House had in June 2022 also mandated the Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
This followed a motion under matters of urgent national importance raised by Hon. Musa Mohammed Pali, APC Bauchi, who lamented about the ugly trends of removal of manhole covers in Abuja, defining a manhole as “an opening used as an access point for an underground public utility, allowing inspection, maintenance and system upgrades.”
He regretted that manhole or maintenance hole which usually has a removable cover and an opening which is large enough for a person to pass through are been made death-traps.
“Manhole covers in the Federal Capital Territory are being stolen by unpatriotic individuals,
leaving the manholes open and posing a grave danger to unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians.
He again worried that many people have sustained permanent injuries as a result of falling into open manholes while many vehicle tyres have been damaged as a result of running over the manholes
Indeed, the activities of scavengers (Baba Mbola) and other unpatriotic individual is responsible for the theft of manhole covers that are not secured or locked.
It therefore means that if the federal government and FCT fail to monitor the illegal removal of manhole covers in Abuja, it will degenerate to the vandalisation of critical infrastructure including private and public properties in Abuja during this transition period.
Prompt News reports that key infrastructure like the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Project embarked upon by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to stem the spate of insecurity across Abuja and the entire country was stopped immediately his regime ended in 2015.
Vandals carted away the cameras, iron poles, solar panels that would supplied power to the CCTV just as all the huge money budgeted for the project went down the drain.