By David Attah
Like birds out of the cage, residents of Kaduna State on Friday left the state capital in droves.
This exodus followed the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew imposed on the state as a result of the current outbreak of violence in which many people were killed.
The state governor, Patrick Yakowa, had on Thursday in a statewide broadcast relaxed the 24-hour curfew by four hours to allow Muslims to observe their Friday prayers.
He had asked the residents irrespective of their religion to pray and fast for a quick return of peace to the state after the Sunday bombing of three churches in Kaduna and Zaria and the attendant reprisals.
At the various motor parks and on the roads, residents as well as visitors to the state, who were apparently caught up in the violence, were seen in their hundreds leaving the state.
In most cases, they were seen stopping or waiting for vehicles en-route to Abuja; the situation forced fares to rise by 100 per cent.
For instance, before the crisis, a journey from the state capital to Abuja cost between N800 and N1,000, but as of Friday, the fare shot up to N2,000.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation, observed unending queues at fuel stations as residents besieged the various fuel stations that had the commodity in the metropolis.
A gallon of fuel, which sold for between N400 and N500 before the crisis, now goes for between N700 and N1,000 at the black market.
The various motor parks visited were full of passengers, who wanted to leave the state in order not to be caught up again in another round of violence.
Besides, residents of the metropolis besieged markets and other business centres to make quick purchases before the four-hour grace given by the state government lapsed.
They stormed the various Automated Teller Machine centres to withdraw cash, thereby causing a high human traffic.
At the Sabon Tasha and Ungwan Sunday market areas, all in the southern part of the state, residents who had been caged for the past few days were making frantic efforts to purchase one thing or the other.
In fact, the prices of most items like meat and other household commodities had gone up.
In some of the markets visited, there was vehicular as well as human traffic as residents trooped to the markets to buy foodstuffs.
A kilo of meat that previously sold for between N700 and N800 now sells for between N1,000 and N1,200.
Most of the people our correspondent spoke with claimed that they had run out of foodstuffs in their homes and stressed the need to stock food in case of any eventuality, just as those leaving the state said they were caught unawares by the violence.
Some of the travellers said they had to leave the state as they could no longer cope with the harsh conditions, while others said they had to keep their families away from the state in view of the current situation.
Also, residents were relocating to areas they consider safe havens for them. Many commercial motorcyclists were seen speeding off from places they considered as no-go-areas.
Via The Punch