From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Florence Adindu graduated with a second class upper division from the University but after years of fruitless job search, she settled to be a cab driver in 2019.
Till date, she has not totally convinced herself that she made the right decision because the job has come with life-threatening challenges.
While she is aware that putting food on the table would not be an easy endeavour, battling muggers, carjackers and armed robbers were never on the cards.
She has escaped being mugged on several occasions by hoodlums pretending to be hawkers. She has also been attacked by carjackers in a bump and run scenario, but providence has been the reason she has not lost her life or her car to them. Her worry is heightened by the fact that the assailants see women cab-hailing drivers as easy prey that can not put up stiff resistance whenever they strike.
The development forced her to close by 7pm each day despite being the peak of operations.
Adindu, a Bolt driver, in a recent chat with Daily Sun, said she would have quit the risky job if better money-making opportunities come her way.
She said: “I own a Toyota Corolla that I use for the Bolt Service. About two months ago, around the Apo area, I had just dropped off a passenger and as I was about to hit the expressway, I just heard this bang on the rear bumper. I looked through the inner mirror and saw a black Durango SUV. This was a few minutes to 7pm. I attempted to stop to at least assess the extent of damage. But as I was about to pull over, the SUV almost intercepted and blocked me. Two men jumped out almost immediately. All I can recall is that I hit the accelerator pedal immediately. It was full speed ahead, not minding whether I could ram into the car ahead of me or not. My instinct just kicked in. I don’t know how I managed to escape. It was God.
“I narrated the incident to a neighbour of mine who is a civil defence officer and he said they could be kidnappers or carjackers. He said most criminals see women as soft targets and easy prey. He said a Toyota Corolla is quite attractive to carjackers because it is in hot demand in the automobile industry. It could be easily sold in whole or butchered and sold in parts.
“I told him I installed a tracker in mine and he said that is the reason the vehicle is often butchered and sold in parts. It’s really a scary development but what can I do? This job puts food on the table. It gives me money to take care of my siblings as a first child with aging parents. I just have to keep praying, be careful and do what I’ve got to do to make a legitimate income”.
Another female cab driver, Ejiro Johnson said she miraculously escaped a ferocious attack by three female passengers penultimate Sunday.
She narrates the story. “It was a Sunday morning and I had a booking to lokogoma from lugbe along the airport road. My passengers were three young women. Once in my car, they struck a conversation with me, talking about the terrible economy that may have propelled me into becoming a cab driver.
I recall telling them I love what I was doing. As the conversation got warmer, I felt a cold and sharp object on my right ear. Lo and behold, it was a dagger.
I was ordered to park. In panic, my car ran into the gutter. That was what saved me. They jumped out and hopped into another car they trailed behind. Unknown to me, other members of the gang were in it, another Toyota Corolla like mine”.
According to Johnson, her friends who are also taxi drivers have had close encounters with female carjackers.
Carjacking is a robbery in which the item taken over is a motor vehicle. In contrast to car theft, carjacking is usually in the presence and knowledge of the victim. A common crime in many places in the world, carjacking has been the subject of legislative responses, criminology studies, and prevention efforts.
Police sources told Daily Sun that efforts have been intensified to flush out criminal elements from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
They said the issue of car theft and carjacking were not new, adding that both passengers and drivers should be security conscious at all times and report their experiences to appropriate quarters.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation Task Team recently raided criminal hideouts across the city and arrested 14 suspects.
The task force raided shanties around Bolingo hotels, Church Gate Towers, all located in the Central Business District; Wuse and Jahi districts which led to the recovery of an unspecified number of weapons.
Chairman of the task team, Ikharo Attah, told journalists that most of the undeveloped plots of land in the city had been turned into criminal hideouts.
Attah who decried the rate at which criminal elements were illegally converting all available spaces to hiding places warned owners of the undeveloped plots to rid their properties of criminal activities and also commence development.
He noted that the discoveries made at some of the places raided were spine-numbing, assuring that the exercise would be sustained.
According to media reports, some crime hubs in Abuja include; the bridge before the ship house, under the bridge of Bolingo hotel towards the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN); under the NNPC station towards Wuse mega filling station before gsm village; under the bridge between Area 11 to Unity House before KIA Motors, among others.