Every city has a lot to offer in terms of social and economic life. In Nigeria, several cities offer a lot of stories about the economy and social life. For instance, Alaba Market speaks volumes of commercial life in Lagos, just as Terminus is of Jos. Also, Obalende in Lagos and Zone 4 in Abuja are thought to be hubs of social rendezvous in these cities.
For the capital of the nation’s nature’s gift state of Taraba- Jalingo, ‘Road Block’, happens to be the center of rendezvous. Perhaps, because of its strategic geographical location in the city of Jalingo, this area was named ‘Road Block’.
Located at the meeting point of the two major link routes that welcome you to the capital city, this area is a beehive of activities all day round.
It is the meeting point of the Jalingo- Wukari road, on the southern axis, the Jalingo-Numan road on the northern axis, and the busy Hammaruwa Way, which connects the city center.
Located at the meeting point of the two major link routes that welcome you to the capital city, this area is a beehive of activities all day round. It is the meeting point of the Jalingo- Wukari road, on the southern axis, the Jalingo-Numan road on the northern axis, and the busy Hammaruwa Way, which connects the city center.
In fact, the level of human and vehicular traffic on this area cannot be compared with any within the city of Jalingo.
‘Road block’ is of great economic significance to the city of Jalingo. It is home to the largest motor park in the state, which rakes in a lot of revenue to the state. Other smaller parks exist too along this axis.
Also, several trailer vehicles can be seen parked along the road in all directions. Their presence has been a source of worry to the state government, especially the Taraba state House of Assembly, who earlier on passed a resolution, on the need to relocate them to an appropriate place considering the menace they pose to the society.
However, long after the resolution was passed, this category of transporters,alongside those operating illegal parks, still persist in their activities with impunity.
‘Roadblock’ is also be a hub for spare parts dealership and automobile workshops It is therefore no wonder that the area experiences heavy human and vehicular traffic all day long.
However, ‘Roadblock’ is indeed a classic example of ‘different strokes for different folks’. While commercial activities like buying and selling of wares, transportation and spare parts thrive during the daytime, night time attracts its own unique kind of businesses.
The type of business at night actually complements the daytime business. The hospitality business and services offered along this axis is second to none. From food vendors to bar services to drug peddlers, pimping and prostitution, the list is endless.
The activities of these drug peddlers, have of late become a nuisance to the society and a source of concern to the law enforcement agencies, who at several times raided these dealers. Drugs like marijuana, codein and other psychotropic drugs are sold and used openly by young boys and girls, who happen to be either pimps or commercial sex workers.
Investigation by this reporter has it that most of these commercial sex workers are indigenes of the State and residents of the adjoining residential areas and some come from distant areas to consume drugs and perhaps hook up with any interested client.
The pimps who hang around usually hook up interested customers who may not have the boldness to approach a hooker. Usually, these hookers use their personal cribs for services or may follow their customer home or the nearest lodge around. As a matter of fact, several of these lodges exist around that axis.
Amazingly, this reporter learnt that, certain hollow areas were used by some of these sex workers at night for a ‘quickie’, just in case the customer does not have enough cash to hire accommodation.
The activities in the ‘Road block’ area, has unfortunately, predisposed it to a lot of criminality. Crimes like rape, robbery, gangsterism and violence are a daily occurrence. Most of the victims happen to be commercial sex workers, who are mostly in their mid twenties and thirties.
Their phones and earnings from this trade were usually robbed by drugged gangs around the area. Unfortunately, the security agencies happen to be indifferent or simply didn’t see the need to be there, perhaps due to the negative societal perception on practitioners of this type of business.
But why do ladies living in their own state of origin engage in such a risky business which is widely perceived as business of strangers?
This reporter tried to find out from some of those sex workers. Julie, (not real name) from Yorro, is a girl in her early thirties. She is daughter to a retired soldier and lived most of her life outside the State. According to her, she was a victim of child abuse by her dad who maltreated her while she was younger.
She could not endure the maltreatment and had to fend for herself. She added that the work had taken her to cities like Lagos, Kano and Jos.
The pretty lady who is usually dressed in pants or jean trousers and sling tops, revealed to this reporter that she now supports her family including the dad who use to maltreat her and even has her own building project which is under construction.
Halima (not real name) is Fulani from Yola. The lady disclosed to this reporter that she was forced into prostitution because her family wanted to forcefully marry her to a stranger she didn’t love.
Since she couldn’t resist them, she had to rebel against that decision by walking out of her father’s house to become independent.
As a matter of fact, pathetic stories like these are reasons why most of these sex workers go into this risky occupation. Survival is the driving force!
From the look of things, these ladies can become responsible, if their vulnerabilities are addressed.
Therefore, there is the need to get rid of the drug businesses from this commercial hub as well as secure employment for them through skill acquisition. Also, they would require rehabilitation and a sense of belonging. This is the job of the law enforcement agencies and government alike.
Above all, the ever busy ‘Road Block’, would require a serious social and civil engineering in order to make it more habitable and economically viable. It must not be a breeding ground for pimps, drug addicts, robbers and prostitutes as well as other forms of criminals.