A commercial driver simply identified as Godwin has narrated how he escaped with 18 passengers from gun-wielding kidnappers along the Abonema-Degema-Emuoha Road in Rivers State.
Godwin said the gunmen wanted to hijack his fully loaded bus travelling from Abali Park in Port Harcourt to Abonema, a kalabari-speaking area in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state.
While speaking to a popular Radio station in Port Harcourt, Nigeria Info, monitored by our correspondent, he disclosed that the miscreants emerged from a nearby bush and tried to stop him, but sensing danger, he accelerated and continued his journey.
Godwin further said before he knew, they started shooting in his direction, but he managed to escape with all the occupants of the vehicle through a bad spot at a popular junction called Israel-Ama.
“Their target was to kill me qnd destabilise my movement so that they can get the bus and my passengers. But God gave me wisdom, I was able to jump through the gallop and save everybody,” he explained.
The commercial bus driver who sustained gunshot injuries, however, expressed dismay that none of the passengers he risked his life for showed concern when they got to safety.
“I was the only person that sustained injury. But as soon as I reached there (destination), all of them dropped and went their way. They were only telling me sorry.
“The gunshot, pains, everything. It was only my union that was able to take me somewhere that they removed the bullet,” he added.
Godwin called on the police officers that mount checkpoints along the Abonema-Degema-Emuoha routes to extend their services to the bad spots on the road to prevent repeated attacks by the gunmen, saying the operatives are aware of the repeated attacks there.
He said, “The police are fully aware, but they don’t stand in the more dangerous areas at night. They can stand close to that place during the day time.
“But in the night hours we need them because that road is lonely. They don’t usually stand there.
“They (operatives) will pack themselves to one side. As soon as you drive past them, the distance between that place and Kalabari is still far. Because of the gallop, vehicles cannot speed.
“Our Kalabari people don’t seem to see the importance of doing this road. But this is the only access road to three local governments. And time and again, we have been suffering from kidnapping and armed robbery.”
He also spoke on why commercial drivers continue to use the route at night despite these attacks.
“The transport system is like markets. And the system in our parks, the local government vehicle must load first. Our union exco vehicle too. If it is the day that the vehicles did not move fast, by the time they load and the turn gets to the floor member, it is towards the evening.
“It is not every day that we get that fast flow. Other local government areas, they travel anytime. Our passengers don’t understand that it is when the people come that we carry them,” he stated.
The route has witnessed several hijacking of buses and kidnapping of passengers by gunmen in the last three months.