By ABDULHAKEEM ABDULLAHI
Legend has it that the present-day Kaduna was a breeding ground for crocodiles. The name Kaduna was coined from the Hausa translation of the word ‘crocodiles’. Well, as hundreds of years have passed, it seems the crocodiles have been replaced by something much more dangerous…Some call them ‘sleeping police’ or ‘speed bumps’! Whatever name they are called, they sure lay ambush to vehicles that ply the streets of Kaduna.
Technically, speed bump (or speed breakers) is the common name for a family of traffic-calming device that uses vertical deflection to slow motor-vehicle traffic in order to improve safety conditions. Variations include the speed hump (or speed ramp), speed cushion, and speed table(according to Wikipedia).
Yes, you read right! Speed bumps are traffic-calming devices. These devices are used to improve safety of all road users especially pedestrians in populated and/or residential areas. Speed breakers are intended to protect people but the proliferation of these modern crocodiles has defeated that noble objective.
The indiscriminate moulding of these bumps has adverse effects on the economy of Kaduna State: the costs are huge if computed annually and if hidden costs of time spent at repair workshop are included. Annually, billions of Naira is spent on car repairs by residents in Kaduna : Consequently the life of a vehicle is shorter in Kaduna than in places like Abuja.
Again from the infrastructural point of view, most paved roads start deteriorating at points where these bumps are located because they’re not made to technical specifications. Nowhere is this common than the streets of Kaduna where the bumps are lurking at every turn and can be as high as 9 inches.
The frustrating part is their spread or density per meter – for example, a drive from U/Dosa to Malali via Badarawa (a distance of about 5 kilometres will take you over 50 of these “crocodiles”, i.e. an average of 1/100metre) – although that’s not a clear indication as at some points they may be up to 3 at distances of less than 10 metres to each other.
The most dangerous negative impact of the bumps is the fact that criminals are utilizing them for car-jacking and kidnapping as they take advantage of the fact that motorists mostly come to a halt when approaching the bumps. So the issue of speed-controlling devices is a multi-faceted one including safety, economy, and security.
Ideally it’s not all bad having speed bumbs but there must be a balance between safety and economy as in this case they seem to be intertwined. The Kaduna State Government(KDSG) should as matter of urgency come up with legislation that will expressly regulate the setting-up of any traffic-calming device on Kaduna roads especially now that KDSG is making tremendous efforts on roads construction.