This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
The Abuja - Kaduna expressway is notorious for kidnapping and frequent armed robbery activities. The route's reputation is fast becoming that of the most dangerous road in the country as it now a hub for robbers who see abduction and murder as lucrative.
The 211-kilometre expressway, which is the link between the FCT and the Northwestern part of the country makes a good spot for kidnappers because many travellers plough the road. Bandits kill, rape and collect up to millions of naira as the ransom for their victims.
They mostly evade the eyes of security operatives by hiding in strategic positions along the road. Security operatives are almost always at U-turns, which these kidnappers clearly avoid. Many times, they come in motorcycles and ambush motorists by blocking the road.
Despite the constant arrest of suspects and presence of police officers on the road, the robbers continue to have the upper hand. So much so that the Kaduna - Abuja rail line records higher patronage - people would rather go by rail, which is relatively safer than the road.
But kidnapping and armed robbery is not the only problem with the area, lack of routine maintenance has left the highway with craters and potholes, many times causing ghastly accidents and damage to vehicles.
Security operatives will have to do more than be present at checkpoints on the highway. Evidently, the robbers and kidnappers who understand this tactic, avoid the police spots.
Intelligence gathering on the path of security operatives must be adopted. Information on the hideouts of kidnappers and how they operate, for example, will be useful.
Ultimately, till the roads are fixed and the bandits fished out, anyone linking the North-West from Abuja is not safe.