Govt doing nothing about rising urban poverty – FCT residents

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) residents have continued to accuse the government of nothing doing nothing to tackle the rise in urban poverty. This situation they say is responsible for the rise in crime, pointing out that many young persons who have nothing to do resort to crime as a means of survival.

On a visit to Dutse Alhaji at the Bwari Area Council of Abuja which is 15 kilometres away from the Presidential Villa, one is greeted with a terrible urban poor situation with the residents living in a huge infrastructural deficit that further complicates their poor living conditions.

In the entire community, which is estimated to be over 1 million population with overcrowded housing, residents have no safe drinking water and there is no provision for sanitation, drainage, and waste collection. A situation that makes maintaining hygiene in the area impossible.

Deplorable Street at Zone 4 Dutse Alhaji
Deplorable Street at Zone 4 Dutse Alhaji

In different narratives, residents who spoke to MAWA recounted how poverty is hitting them, making life very difficult and challenging. A situation many of them warned about can lead to uncontrollable insecurity if not addressed by the government.

Apart from two streets, the first and second gates, there is no street in the community has is tarred while residents go through hell accessing their homes.

Commercial motorcycle operators known as Okada Riders who spoke to MAWA, decry the deplorable condition of roads across all the communities while calling on the government to help fix them.

Mr. Chuks Simon, an Okada Rider while speaking to MAWA accused the government of not showing any concern in providing a decent living for the poor.

“From Dutse Alhaji to Abuja city centre is less than 15 kilometres, see how dirty and undeveloped the community is, the government does not care about the poor”, Simon told MAWA.

Mr. Issac Abraham, who claims to have lived in Abuja for over 25 years, while speaking to MAWA, said there are many communities in Abuja that are in worst condition compared to what is obtainable in Dutse Alhaji.

“The urban poor situation in Abuja is one that should worry every sane mind, I can assure you that what you see in Dutse Alhaji is far better compared to other Abuja settlements like Mpape or Gwagwa”, Abraham said.

Some of the houses visited in Zone 3 and Zone 4 areas of Dutse Alhaji have no toilets while a good number of the residents defecate inside the gutters. A practice that contributes to dirty hygiene that is often responsible for cholera and typhoid.

Deplorable Street at Zone 5 Dutse Alhaji
Deplorable Street at Zone 5 Dutse Alhaji

And this is though the community has no government hospital that has the capacity to deliver healthcare to the residents.

A senior official of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) who spoke to MAWA and wants his identity concealed, described the poor urban situation in Abuja as unfortunate.

According to him, the claim by the government that Abuja is the fastest-growing city is a huge lie that must not be allowed to continue. He pointed out that Abuja has six Area Councils, Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kwali, and Abuja Municipal (AMAC) and in all of them, only AMAC has a resemblance of development.

“The claim that Abuja is the fastest growing city is a huge lie, Abuja has six Area Councils, and in all of them, only AMAC has a resemblance of development. All the remaining five are rural villages, and that is not development”, the FCTA official told MAWA.

Mrs. Margret Azim, an estate developer who spoke to MAWA in her Gwarimpa Abuja office, while faulting the narrative of Abuja being the fastest growing city, said Abuja is far from developing considering the huge infrastructural deficit across the six Area Councils and the rise in urban poor.

According to her, for one to consider Abuja as a developed city, the six Area Councils must have some level of development one sees in AMAC. And the rise in urban poor that is seen across all the informal settlements in Abuja has to be addressed.

“A situation where all civil servants leave their houses and head to the city centre every day of the week is not right to say Abuja is developing, if you want to compare Abuja to a developed city as we have seen in other countries, decentralize the town and let all the six Area Councils develop at the same pace”, Azim said.

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