If you currently live in Nigeria, you know exactly what is in vogue. At the risk of turning this blogpost into a Nigerian telenovela script, I won’t bore you with the usual listing…you surely do know what we are going through. Nevertheless, I’ll write about one mishap we are all familiar with especially in Lagos State.
I remember reciting some analogies way back in primary school. My English teacher then was Mr. Boateng, a tall “Guinness black”man with the body of a wrestler. For some reason, Ghanaian teachers were in high demand back then in Nigeria. According to some people, they are highly skilled especially in English Language. I still can’t fathom though, why they pronounce the word “her’’ as ‘’hare’’ or ‘’come’’ as ‘’kam’’. Always sounds off to me! Every morning, he would make us recite new analogies immediately after the morning assembly.
Shoe is to leg as water is to drink. Shirt is to wear as book is to read.
Somehow your formed analogies had to make sense or else you can as well forget about writing properly for the next hour or so. Mr. Boateng would knock off the knuckles of your writing hand with a thick, long wooden ruler that seemed to compliment his stature. For some reason, I never was scared of Mr. Boateng like most of the other kids were. I was not his favorite pupil (if he ever had, he never showed) but somehow, I kept visualizing him in Santa’s outfit, our very own black Santa Claus (known by most of us then as ‘’Fr. Christmas’’). Those were the years…
….Air is to breathe as Lagos is to traffic.
In Lagos, you can literally sit in traffic for about the amount of time or more it will take you to bake a cake, boil beans, wait for your dstv decoder to scan, breast-feed triplets, wash dishes that fed a party of 40, all timed up together. The real test of a patient man is to drive in a non-moving Lagos traffic, the kind where to your left is a fuel tanker; your right is a fully loaded trailer and then in front of you is a sand tipper truck. If throughout this ordeal, you do not utter profanities or flare up at the people journeying with you, then St. should be a prefix attached to your name. You surely are not from around here (by here, I mean planet earth).
Some weeks back, I went on a ”by-force” excursion around Lagos all in a bid to avoid traffic. The simple route from Marina to Festac that would have cost me a maximum of an hour thirty minutes, took me 5 hours, no joke! I tried passing through detours, short-cuts and routes I felt wouldn’t have been congested by then. Unfortunately for me that day, it was as if a new road into Lagos was commissioned and about a million migrants came in that Wednesday. With the fuel scarcity looming, getting petrol is a blogpost for another day. Today, the ridiculously long queues at filling stations are a major cause of the traffic now.
Sly is to fox as convenient is to BRT .
Most days on my way back from work, I take the BRT bus. Riding the bus eases the pressure and tension a bit as you’re neither driving nor have to sit skin to skin with the next person. Simply put, there is some amount of space for you to breathe. I once rode in 14 seater bus with 22 people seated. Additional seats were made and attached to the normal seater, accommodating 3 people, to allow 5 people sit in. As if that wasn’t enough, the original 3 seaters of the bus were adjusted to create space for yet another seater placed in between. Altogether, there were 4 seaters with 5 people on each seater plus 2 passengers in front, 22 people. Obviously, the driver and his conductor must have thought we were tubers of yam straight from the farm to be dropped off somewhere. Even their driving was that of express delivery men.
And then it gets worse.
Imagine this particular bus right behind a coaster bus with a bad engine that emits black fumes straight into your face. Of course there is never AC in such buses to be turned on as the windows of the bus are always down, to allow air in. Sweat, sticky bodies gummed together, babies crying right beside you as they can’t stand the heat, conductors shouting while spurting out saliva and hanging on to the bus with one arm, exposing a mass of armpit hair that has turned almost red with dirt. Some lady is on the phone, speaking her language at the top of her voice. With the way she was screaming, you’d think the person on the other side was partially deaf. Haba, network can’t be that bad naaa! If you per chance are an asthmatic patient seated here, surely, your next stop would definitely be the next available hospital.
Lagos traffic can never be complete until cars get bashed; that’s when the real drama begins. Owners slowly turn off their ignition, come down from their cars and then release their inner Harvey Specter and Mike Ross. By the time cars start moving ahead, most of them are so engrossed in practicing street law that they have caused an obstruction, creating a mini-traffic in an already built traffic! Most robberies take place in a traffic hold-up. The ”real” owners of your possessions come by to pick them up, sometimes with a gun to your head, other times with a slap that keeps you dazed during and two weeks after the operation.
Lagos, NA WA!
I feel one major solution to this problem is decongestion of our roads and drainage systems to allow for easy flow of water and debris especially when it rains. Also, our water ways can be opened up with a well planned, safe means of water transport adopted. Let there be a good number of commercial ferries taking people to the island and back again. With this in place, a good number of people would leave their cars at home thereby reducing the volume of cars on the roads. This happened when BRT buses were first introduced. I am sure it would happen again. In addition, there should be a time for trucks, trailers and tankers to use the roads and this should be enforced. Seventy percent of the time, major traffic and fatal accidents are caused by them. Found out that has been put in place but it is still not adhered to by these drivers.
On the matter of the prevailing fuel scarcity, some of us are hoping that our Petroleum minister cum President would visit Nigeria soon as he tours the world. Hopefully, we would see him sometime this year to solve this issue once and for all.
We Need Fuel.
(At least pending the time we go solar or start making use of alternative sources of energy).
For most of us irrespective of tribe or ethnic group, religion, belief and all that makes up a community, Lagos is home. No matter what happens here, we adapt and keep on living. If you can’t shape up, then you ship out. If you can’t ship out even to our neighboring Cotonou…well, you had better sharpen up. No dulling. No time to waste. So, to all my Lagos people, the real hustlers, I salute.
Eko o ni baje oo…o ba je ti!
PS: Sorry if you don’t know what this means. There are some native language words that just become bland when translated. This is one of them. 🙂