Tanker drivers risking their lives to feed their families

Tanker drivers risking their lives to feed their families

Since this story was first published, the regional forces from Chad, Niger and Cameroon alongside the Nigerian military have recaptured most of the towns under the control of Boko Haram and made it safer for tanker drivers plying those areas. 

 

Most of those in the group drive tankers of petrol, diesel or kerosene to and from Maiduguri – the city at the heart of the Islamist insurgency in the north-east and the capital of Borno state.

Gathered at the Ogere Trailer Park, about 50km (30 miles) north of Lagos, they say they have all been affected by the six-year conflict.

“We are all concerned about the situation, we have all lost relatives, wives and children are kidnapped and houses have been burnt,” says Atiku Abubakar.

Speaking in Hausa, he and his colleagues describe the perils of the route to and from Lagos.

It takes two and a half days when a tanker is empty and four and a half days when full.

They say it is dangerous enough without the militants to contend with as there are so many potholes.

“Ten of my colleagues who ply this route have been killed in the last three weeks,” says Mr Abubakar.

“The militants stopped them and cut off their heads with an electric chainsaw and burned the trucks,” he says.

“Boko Haram is usually only interested in commandeering smaller vehicles, sometimes the fighters will take the lorries, but most of the time they burn them.”

Another tanker driver chips in to say that if a driver looks “powerful” he may be kidnapped and conscripted as a fighter, but anyone looking “weak” will definitely “lose his head”.

“If you reach Damaturu by five in the afternoon, you dare not continue on the final leg to Maiduguri,” he says, explaining that a driver may not manage the last 130km before the sun sets, when they would be most vulnerable to attack.

 

Excerpt from a BBC feature, Boko Haram crisis: The Nigerian truckers risking attack. To read more click here.

 

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