By Waliu Adeyeri
A major reason I barely go out in Lagos is the inevitable Lagos traffic. I doubt the traffic was considered in naming the State as a Centre of Excellence.
It was a Monday morning, at exactly 5:10 a.m. I left my apartment on the outskirts of Ikorodu for the popular Ikorodu roundabout – which many call Garage – to catch the early morning bus to Mile 12.
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I took my Cowry Card, I knew using the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) is the best way to beat the morning Lagos traffic. Ready for the trip. Unaware of what Lagos has for me. Like Wole Soyinka said, I “set forth at dawn.”
It is just 5:10 a.m. My street was still dark and deserted. Well it has always been, even during the day. I got to the junction, after a few minutes walk to the junction, I met two people, dressed to depict they are going to their places of work.
I thought the official time to resume work is 8 a.m. Why leave home around 5am?
Few minutes later, I got a ‘keke napep’ – a tricycle ready to transport me to Ikorodu Garage for N200 (the flat rate) from Elepe.
Did I say my street was deserted? At exactly 5:40 a.m. we were at Ikorodu Garage. The crowd of people walking briskly as though they were already late caught my attention. You may be pushed off balance if you walk slowly at that moment. Remember the Lagos popular saying ‘Eko o gba gbere’ – Lagos does not condone sluggishness.
Road side traders were already at their places of work advertising their wares.
The Hunt for Bus
From different angles of the roundabout, which houses the ancient statue of Oga, the great founder of Ikorodu, voices and megaphone coincide to birth deafening noises.
“Ilorin! Ogbomoso! Ibadan! On lo niyen ooo…
“N200 Ketu, Ojota, Mile 12, Oshodi…
“Eko Eko Eko! Iyana-Oworo! Iyana-Ipaja!”
First, I headed for the BRT Terminal. I was greeted by a crowd of early morning workers and traders. When did they leave their houses for the terminal? I wondered.
Speaking with one of the waiting persons, she said, she left her house around 4 a.m. to get the early morning bus but turned out to meet other people waiting for the few buses available.
Some Lagosians prefer to wait in the queue just to beat the envisaged traffic. Maybe I should have waited also. But fortunately and unfortunately I fell for the weed-rhythmic coated voice of one of the bus conductors calling passengers into a yellow 18-passenger bus popularly called ‘danfo.’
My Journey through Danfo
My journey through the commercial bus, danfo, was no different from a military expedition. Talk about the inconvenience, and the height of all, the traffic.
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The bus moved at exactly 5:40 a.m. half occupied. The smooth going trip was severed by the traffic. Buses began to move ‘bumper to bumper’, the ‘clever’ drivers were already on the BRT lane or facing oncoming vehicles. JUST TO BEAT LAGOS TRAFFIC
Just To Beat the Traffic
Recall I said, Eko o gba gbere. It is just a fact about many Lagosians. They don’t take chances when it comes to traffic related issues. They are ready to beat the traffic at all cost even if it would be at the detriment of others.
Already, passengers were already murmuring and advising the driver to join other ‘clever’ drivers, flouting the rules because everyone is in haste.
Everyone is in Haste
There were about three JAMB candidates on the bus who were heading for their centre at Agric. Some traders were also on the bus heading for their stalls.
Some took the opportunity to take a nap, while our bus driver made a turn at the U-turn point around Aruna to face the one way.
No sooner had we moved than we were intercepted by a Police officer in the company of about 3 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). One was identified for his strictness. If my brain didn’t fail me, he was called ‘Ibro.’
He opened the driver’s side door, ordered the driver to get down authoritatively. To my surprise, the driver made a sharp and fast reverse, which forced Ibro to leave the door.
We reversed to where we made the turn and rejoined the ‘unintelligent’ drivers. I asked the driver why he had to make the dangerous reverse, he said:
“If I was arrested I would be fined N5,000 – N10,000. I won’t be able to work for the day because I would be released around 12 noon or 4 p.m.”
BRT buses were also stuck in the traffic as impatient motorists and motorcyclists plied their lane.
After about 1 hour of ‘bumper to bumper’ vehicular movement, we made it to Agric. Nothing other than danfo drivers picking passengers on the road, touts collecting tolls, Security personnel and LASTMA officers struggling to direct traffic on the road.
We didn’t face any traffic till we got to Asolo where we faced another ‘sun kere, fa kere’ – traffic jam.
After the short congestion, I arrived at my destination, Mile 12 at exactly 7:10 a.m., stressed out on a Monday morning.
Guess what, I must not allow that to affect my day. 4:00 p.m. is another time to face another traffic.