From Eko to the Coal City

Senior journalist and mentor, Kanayo Esinulo, plots in graphic details a sweet and sour journey from Eko to the Coal City for Christmas.

We left Lagos as early as 7.06 a.m. for Enugu.

There were just three checkpoints along the Ogun stretch – in fact, two were by FRS operatives while one was by unnecessarily ubiquitous Nigeria Customs. Otherwise, it was a smooth drive.

The Ondo section wasn’t crowded with checkpoints. But Edo axis was infested by horrible and greedy policemen who have turned that portion into unauthorised “Toll Gates” and they were rude, impolite, aggressive and visibly extortionist in style.

Edo State has about twenty one (21) police checkpoints. The few Military checkpoints posed no threats and no delays. They were very civil.

Delta was calm and cool – just three police checkpoints and armed only with their polite “Anything for the boys”. Time was 2.10pm.

Niger Bridge Wahala

Then, we got to the notorious Asaba end of the Niger Bridge.

Come see Wahala!

The traffic jam stretched from the Bridge to Asaba Town. Remember that we got to Asaba town by 2.10pm. We reached the Asaba end by 9.12pm – seven solid hours between Asaba town and the bridge. A distance of less than 10 kilometers!

It was unbelievable.

At a point, I had to come down from the car to ask a Mobile Police officer who was sitting on a pavement, looking tired what was really happening.

I asked what was really happening. He said he was sitting there to catch small rest. He said he was tired, really tired.

“The traffic is uncontrollable. Nigerians drive anyhow. I am tired. FRSC, Police, DSS, Defence and Security Corps, etc are all there (pointing towards the bridge) but nothing is moving.

“In fact, the Delta State Governor’s reps are here. My brother, we are doing our best. Nigeria is impossible”, he added in resignation.

We got right on the bridge and headed to Onitsha by 9.09pm. That was the end of the agony.

A smooth drive

It was a smooth drive from Onitsha to Enugu with just three military checkpoints in Anambra State – no time wasted, and four along the Enugu axis.

We got to the popular Millikin Hill by 11.56pm on the dot. As we entered Enugu, the whole town seemed to have gone to sleep. The Harmattan breeze welcomed us to the Coal City.. We reached our Trans-Ekulu final destination by 12.12am yesterday.

Yes, Edo State Police checkpoints wasted and wastes travelers’ time, and then the Impossible Asaba end of Niger bridge. Otherwise, it could have been a trip to behold and cherish.

Welcome to Enugu, the Coal City that I first visited in mid-December 1961 during Secondary School Christmas Holiday.

Bless Enugu always.

From Eko to the Coal City for Christmas