Commercial drivers plying the 100 km Gusau-Dansadau road in Zamfara state have gone on strike to protest incessant kidnappings and armed robbery, Daily Trust gathers.
The highway stayed empty of commercial vehicles for a fourth day on Thursday as drivers refused to work.
The chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in Dansadau, Isihu Ticha told Daily Trust that the strike was to draw the attention of authorities to their plight.
Three drivers have been kidnapped along the highway recently, and bandits seized a total 16 motorbikes within a week.
“Kidnappings and armed robberies are happening almost on daily basis. Last Friday, the driver of a vehicle conveying bride and other wedding guests was shot dead, the bride and guests were abducted near Mashayar Zaki, a very dangerous spot along the road just 15 km north of Dansadau town. The vehicle somersaulted and this did not stop them from seizing the people onboard,” said Ticha.
“Even before then, at least three drivers plying the road were killed. In the same vein, four drivers were kidnapped and they have spent at least 40 days in captivity. Their abductors have not made any contact to demand ransom and we don’t know whether the abducted drivers are alive or not. We are really in a very horrible situation here,” the NURTW chairman said.
“A spot called Tashar Maikorai is the most dangerous along the road. The armed criminals usually lurk around Hannu Tara, a ghost community located 13 km north of Dansadau town to intercept any moving vehicle.
“There are soldiers stationed along the road but I don’t think the number is enough to stop the activities of these criminals. We are calling on authorities to add the number of the check points especially at the most dangerous spots,” he added.
A resident of Dansadau town, Bilyaminu, said some drivers from Gusau are ferrying passengers up to 75 km to reach Yar Tasha Sahabi community.
But from there the drivers would tell the passengers that they would not risk completing the journey to Dansadau which is up to 25 km.
“The passengers after the stop over at Yar Tasha village would take commercial motorbikes to reach Dansadau. For the commercial riders, that is a very dangerous mission as the rider and the passengers could be abducted or killed before reaching Dansadau or at a much safer side have his motorbike seized,” he said.
“Even with this, at least seven motorbikes were seized from the commercial riders by the armed bandits since the start. Nine commercial riders had also lost their motorcycles to armed bandits las Friday.
“I can tell you that we are under siege because the refusal to ply the road by the commercial drivers have made the prices of the available commodities in Dansadau town to begin to sky rocket, especially tomato.
“From Dansadau if you move to the south like you are heading to Dandalla or Madada communities you would meet armed criminals not up to one kilometre. Likewise, if you head to west side, not up to one km you would come across different gangs of armed bandits.
Bandits administering justice
Apart from Malele, Ruwan Tofa, Mai Awaki and Zama Lafiya, most of the other communities in Dansadau district are under the control of armed bandits.
The armed criminals are the ones, adjudicating between residents.
For instance, in Babbar Doka community a middle-aged man was summarily executed by the bandits in the presence of residents after he was accused of witchcraft.
However, the state police command through its spokesman SP Muhammad Shehu said the command is up and doing to secure the road.
Shehu said the residents should be assisting the security operatives with vital information on the movement of criminals adding that there are so many check points along the road.