15 December 2012

Nigeria: 'From Abuja, How Not to Go to Jos Through Nasarawa

A fortnight ago I travelled to Jos from Abuja for the first time without passing through the popular Nyanya-Mararaba-Keffi or Akwanga routes. Rather, I went through Bwari-Jere-Manchok route to Jos and I loved it.

Personally, I felt it was a thrilling experience travelling from Abuja to Jos, the Plateau state capital without going through the hectic traffic that characterises the popular route, especially around the suburb of Mararaba, that is so densely populated located at the border between the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Nasarawa State.

However, another exciting part of the trip was the fact that on our way back to Abuja, we did not experience the frustrating traffic that is often caused by the security check points around Masaka, some kilometers after Keffi.

The few people I spoke with agreed that at the moment the Bwari-Jere-Manchok is a better alternative to Kaduna as well as Jos. Most peoples' reasons for choosing the road are as a result of less pot-holes and most and traffic gridlock one experience on the 'new' route.

The road was actually new to me, but a good number of my friends and acquaintances confirmed its existence and the fact that it is now their preferred route to either Kaduna or Plateau States. In fact, my friend and his wife that we travelled along with said as much.

When we set out for the trip that fateful Saturday, we were all making comparison of how better it is to go to Jos through Bwari-Jere-Kafanchan, and then Manchok. In the twilight of the journey, I discovered that it was indeed a better road to follow. My friend and his wife had since made up their minds on that. Summarily, we got ourselves discussing 'how not to go to Jos through Nasarawa State.'

Right from Bwari to Jere, the stretch of the road is considerably less busy in terms of traffic. In any case, even if there are check points (very few), the police hardly trouble anyone and the military, mostly around crisis- prone areas of Kafanchan handle their tasks with high sense of decorum and professionalism.

A good part of the road is smooth, paved and free of robberies as those who use the road frequently confirmed. This is not to talk of the exquisite and breath-taking scenery one experiences just as one drives, most especially as one approaches Manchok, leading to Vom, near Jos,(the beautiful scenery and the road in-between the rocks).

We bought banana at reasonable prices. We stopped by at Manchok to say hello to some friends, and in the process, we were given some food stuffs (dwarf specie of yam, okra, peanuts etc).

On our way back to Abuja from Jos, we took the same road. This time around the journey was a faster because we had become familiar with the terrain. We set our clock to determine how long it would take us to Abuja.

When compared to the other regular roads to Jos, the difference was like 20 minutes. A usual trip from Jos to Abuja or vice versa through Keffi or Akwanga takes an average of three hours with a slight margin of error. However, our return took us some few minutes less that.

The fuel scarcity that is presently biting hard around big cities in the country, Abuja inclusive has also found its way to some of the villages we passed-by, especially in Kaduna. Though the product is not completely scarce, the prices differ from what is obtained in Abuja and other cities.

In Abuja, regardless of the queues, we bought fuel at the official rate of N 97 per liter. When we wanted to add some more fuel in Kafanchan and (surrounding communities), we had to dole out N 130 per liter.

Aside the excitement we experienced on our way back, we also had to pay a small price. We searched for a decent suya spot, but couldn't find any. Our intentions and effort to eat while in transit was fruitless as there was no eatery handy.

However, we maintained our pace while music of Yanni the Jazz master from the car stereo entertained us all the way.

It was a Sunday afternoon and a football match between my favourite English Premier League side (Arsenal FC) and another club was about to kick-start. At this point, I wished the road was much shorter or the car could speed faster so I can catch up with the football match.

My friend drove all the way. All I did was gist and nod my head to the music to word off boredom. Before I knew what was happening, we had exited Kaduna State and I saw us appraoching the junction that leads to Bwari .

Just by the junction leading to Bwari, there is a market where travellers shop. The place is actually a stop -by market. A market that bubbles only on Sundays, we learnt. Cars, mostly exotic ones, parked to purchase food stuff basically.

We pulled-over as well and joined in the shopping spree before we headed to Bwari and to our destination in Kubwa.

We then arrived at the major junction that leads to Abuja when exiting Bwari, and there was a military check point, we halted and were searched very briefly, unlike what obtains at the other check points we deliberately avoided (the Masaka- Keffi axis).

After a safe and thrilling experience, we finally arrived home. Since then, I have been encouraging friends to ply that road, either to Jos or Kaduna. It was truly an exciting experience.

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