Lagos is the former capital of the most populous country in Africa. It’s the commercial nerve centre of Africa. The population of Lagos is around 25 million. Lagos is a land of opportunities. Everyone can get something to do no matter the level of work or education. In Lagos are seaports and airports. These and many others makes the daily entry into Lagos so many. Many graduates and non-graduates think of Lagos first before other places when they think of making something worthwhile with their lives.
I have been in Lagos before and even schooled and worked there. Recently, I travelled to Lagos and the commercial driver of the vehicle I boarded said ‘one has to be mad or crazy to live in Lagos’. That got us talking and got me thinking too. Why are people who live in Lagos said to be crazy or mad? Here are some thoughts and reasons.
- Lagos roads almost never sleeps. The roads are busy 24 hours and round the week and month and year. People are always on the road and on the move.
- The traffic in Lagos is something else. If you are going from one point in Lagos to another point you will need to live your destination at least 2 hours ahead of your appointment time. Due to the heavy traffic a trip of 20 minutes can last 2 hours.
- Running to board a bus. People run to board a bus. This is because of the limited buses for unlimited number of people. At a bus stop where 20 people are waiting to get to Oshodi, a bus may stop by but with 2 spaces. This makes the 20 waiting to rush one of the 2 spaces left. People actually run at the bus before it stops.
- Buses not stopping at the right bus stop for the people to alight. This happens when one wants to alight from the bus. The driver is in a haste to reach the final bus stop and get new passengers on time for more cash. The conductor calls all the bus stop at a go not minding whether people hear or not. Sometimes the conductor is outside as he calls the bus stops, so most people don’t hear. Anyone who does not answer his bus stop on time will find himself at the next bus stop. Anyone who does not get down on time at his bus stop if the bus stops will find himself at the next bus stop.
- The conductor does not sit in the bus but stands. The conductor fills the bus with no space left for him to sit so he has to stand as the bus moves the passengers to their destinations. When a passenger alights along the way the conductor still makes frantic effort to get more passengers into the bus while he still stands.
- Doors of commercial buses are opened most times. Most commercial buses have their doors open except if the conductor gets to a specific bus stop where they close the door because of policemen. Passengers who sit by the door have to hold something so that they will not fall off in motion.
- Bus destinations are not clearly spelt out in the call for passengers. A place like Ikorodu is called “Koooduooo”. Agege is called “Gege”. Dopemu is called “Pemuooooo”. Obalende is referred to as “Balendeoooo”. All these makes it difficult for a first timer to locate the bus to board except s/he asks around.
- Companies are located on one side of the divide while workers are on another side. This factor in addition to over population causes heavy traffic mostly in the morning and at evening closing hours. Most people commute to work at VI or Ikoyi from Alimosho, Agege, Ikeja and Sango axis and return back home after work. Traffic towards the island is heavy in the mornings and light at closing time by 5pm.
- Bus conductor can fight and abuse over money or other flimsy issues. Bus conductors and drivers can fight and abuse any passenger that is trying to be smart by not paying. The conductor can merge passengers going different ways together to share change of say give them 200 naira and ask them to split it to 100 for each person. They can merge 3 passengers to share 200 naira as their change. So the passengers alight and instead of going their different ways they start looking for change. Most passengers forget or leave their change with the conductors.
- Security men in uniform claim staff and don’t pay for buses. Most security personnel do not pay for the ride. They sit in front most times and claim staff. The drivers like the deal as such helps them to ward off police checks on the road. However, if there are more than one security personnel in the bus the second has to pay or join the next bus if he does not want to pay.
- Landlord increase rent almost every year. Due to the demand for housing, landlord increase the amount they rent out houses every year.
- Sizes of rented apartments are quite small. In comparison with other towns in Nigeria, the sizes of apartments are quite small. A room in Lagos is smaller but costs more than a bigger one in other towns.
- Agberos collect money from drivers and conductors at will. Agberos or area boys stay on the road and collect money at will from the drivers or conductors. If the driver fails to give them money they will tamper or remove something removable from the vehicle. Most drivers don’t want that so they cooperate with them but sometimes with some resistance. Such moneys may be collected 3 or 4 times a day. When the driver says I paid in the morning now, the area boys will say this is afternoon money or evening or night money.
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