Abuja-Lokoja highway reopens, 16 hours after blockade

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The blocked Abuja-Lokoja Highway has finally been reopened for motorists and commuters 16 hours after blockade by aggrieved tanker drivers in Kogi.

The reopening was effected after an undisclosed amount of money was given to family of the deceased’s tanker driver.

An anonymous government official said the reopening of the road took longer time because the drivers insisted the family of the deceased should arrived at the scene from Nasarawa State.

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“When the family members came, we were able to reach an accord with the provision of some money to them as a show of concern.

“Of course, no amount of money in this world can bring the dead driver back to life,” the official said.

The Kogi Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Sector Commander, Steve Dawulung, expressed gladness over the final reopening of the road.

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“In fact, it has been so hectic and worrisome for not just for my officers and men, but other security operatives.

“We are grateful to Governor Yahaya Bello, who, through his special adviser on Security Matters, facilitated the peace brokered with the aggrieved drivers,” Dawulung said.

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However, with the reopening of the road, it would take some reasonable time before the gridlock will clear for free and normal flow of traffic on the highway.

Trouble allegedly started on Monday evening, when the security operatives asked the tanker driver to stop at a military checkpoint  but he refused and was chased.

The driver was said to have stopped his vehicle on noticing that he was being chased, attempted to run into the bush, but fell into a ditch and was seriously injured. Although he was quickly rushed to hospital for medical attention, he died.

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According to one of the stranded communters, John Dare: “We are trapped and stranded, unable to move forward nor backward because of the blockade of the road by some so-called aggrieved tanker drivers.

“Can you believe we have been trapped here in Lokoja since Moday night, when we got here, all the way from Lagos?

“If one of the tanker drivers is killed as they claimed, is that how to seek justice by doing injustice to other people like us?

“To me, this is unfair and the government, especially the security agents, must do something drastic to reopen this road for us to move on to our respective destinations.”

Another traveller, Jumai Audu, said she was lost on how to describe the horror she went through as a result of the blockade.

“I can’t just imagine what is happening to me now. I have spent over 10 hours here stranded, not knowing what to do.

“We are so tired and hungry with no food at sight to even buy and eat. What kind of a society are we in nowadays?” she asked.

Ibrahim Bala, a bus driver, said: “This has always been the attitude of both tankers and truck drivers across Nigeria. Until the Federal Government takes decisive actions against this, it will continue unabated.”

He described the situation as ‘very painful and unfortunate’, considering the number of hours the aggrieved drivers had held travellers hostage on the highway.

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