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Inside Kaduna’s Mararraban Jos trailer park

Mararraban Jos is a sprawling community on the ever-busy Kaduna-Zaria highway, just 16km from the city. It got its name from being the spot where travelers to Jos, Plateau State, take their course.

But it is the presence of trucks and other articulated vehicles haphazardly parked beside – and on – the road that put the area on the consciousness of the regular commuters plying the road, which links all the seven northwestern states.

Several attempts have been made in the past by different governments to decongest the road without success. A nearby land meant to host a trailer park was abandoned.

Work in progress: Governor El-Rufai with developers at the site

In 2017, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai decided that to do everything possible to ensure the completion of the trailer parks in Mararraban Jos and its Siamese twin Tafa, on the border with Niger State. El-Rufai said at the time that as long as trailers continue to park on the road, people’s lives will continue to be at risk.

Some vehicles at the park

Three years after, the trailer park at Mararraban Jos is substantially ready to host the articulated vehicles, and El-Rufai wasted no time in serving a quit notice – after an ultimatum – to the drivers, mechanics and others to vacate the road with immediate effect.

Warning for erring drivers, others

Many complied with the governors’ directive, but others resorted to cutting corners. Some drivers complied but refused to make use of the park. So they will drive further from Mararraban Jos but still park on the highway. Others resorted to parking in front of people’s houses inside the town.

Last Monday, the governor visited the trailer park to see the level of compliance with the directive. While some complied, others dragged their feet. The governor gave them a last warning.

One of two trailers on the road after the governor’s visit last week Monday

“I observe that some people are still parking in front of people’s houses in Mararraban Jos. Trailers must go to the park, not inside the town. I have asked the DPO and the traditional ruler to inform the people. Whoever allowed a trailer to park in front of his house would have his house demolished because he has broken the law. This is because he was given permission to build a house to reside in, not a garage,” the governor said.

El-Rufai was in the area on Wednesday as he promised.

Evacuating trucks to the park

When Dateline Nigeria visited Mararraban Jos, an official of the Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Authority (KASTELEA), who identified himself as Umar Umar, Corps Marshal Assistant, said he was saddled with the assignment of evacuating the trucks parked by the road side to the new park.

On queue to enter the park

“It is a pity that some people do not appreciate the work we are doing, probably because they don’t have the futuristic view of what will become of the park. We have tried to persuade them, even begging them to move and giving them all the necessary support for them to move into the park. As you can see the governor has provided all the things needed for the place to work.

Commercial motorcyclists outside the trailer park

“It would even be more conducive for them, better than where they will be causing havoc, harbouring criminals and thieves. But you can see we are doing the job now. The place is clear now. This shows the commitment of KASTELEA, especially the corps marshal, to ensure that the directive of the governor is implemented to the latter. We have been doing this together with him under the sun.

“If you enter the park, you will see the vehicles in there. Several hundreds have already passed through this park, in fact beyond expectation. It is one of the largest trailer parks in the country. The governor is determined to ensure sanity on the highway. All the relevant agencies have worked to ensure this success of this project. The unions too have cooperated with us and things moved well. Those who violate the law will be prosecuted. For instance, people should know that indiscriminate parking on the highway is a violation of the Federal Highway Act,” he said.

Unions speak, make case for more amenities

Dateline Nigeria also spoke with the representatives of the union at the park.

Alhaji Salisu Maraban Jos

The Deputy Chairman, Open Body Alhaji Salisu Maraban Jos, said “We are happy with this idea, because whoever visits Maraba today will notice the development, no congestion, no lawlessness on the road and so on. Even accidents will reduce. Our members, especially the drivers, have also given us 100 percent cooperation. We have been trying our best to ensure that no vehicle goes back to parking on the highway.”

He added that some mechanics and spare parts dealers have also relocated to the park in anticipation of the provision of space for them. “We are also serious about security. From 7pm we don’t allow anyone in the park apart from drivers and their assistants. This is because we want to safeguard the people’s property.

Yunusa Lawal Garba

“We will want the governor to hasten the provision of other amenities like resting place for drivers, food vendors, mechanics, spare parts dealers and so on. Those who were operating shops close to the trailers have relocated to the park to continue with their business. I have in the transport sector for 37 years. From tankers to open bodies, this place can accommodate hundreds of vehicles.”

Also commenting, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers’ chairman, Mararraban Jos branch, Yunusa Lawal Garba, said “We are happy to be here. We have some things available as you can see. We also have some that are still not available. The things that we don’t have include enough toilets, hotel, club centre and others. The people are cooperating. All our people are obeying the directive.”

Going round the park

On Tuesday, a Dateline Nigeria reporter visited the trailer park in Mararraban Jos and was shown round by officials. The park has a space of about 71,000 square metres of parking area alone. A second phase is also under construction to accommodate as many trailers as possible.

A land, within the park, has also been cleared accommodate spare parts dealers, retail shops, restaurants and hotels, among other facilities to make users comfortable.

There are also points for firefighters. The park is to be divided into two, one for tankers and the other for open bodies, for safety reason. “You know safety knowledge is different.”

There were lots of food vendors, mechanics, vulcanisers and spare parts leaders, some operating from makeshift stalls.

Some of the toilets at the park

Dateline Nigeria learnt that to access the facility, each trailer pays N700. Out of the amount N500 is for ticket, while N200 goes to the unions. “For now, the amount covers three days. We did this because some drivers will complain that they have some repair works to do before leaving. So our understanding is that three days is enough to do all that. But we will adjust when the need arises,” an official Tasiu Tafida said.

“You have heard the demands of the unions. They are, for instance, concerned about the number of toilets and bathrooms. But all these are things that the government and the developers are working to put in place.”

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