Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Driving in Lagos - different folks,different drives!

*Blows dust from blog* Its been a while since i posted, and my excuse is that i have been busy and i have not really had time to blog, i will try and do better .

 I have wanted to write on driving in Lagos for the longest time, here goes...

I would label driving in Lagos as an art of some sorts.It took me years to conquer my fear of driving in Lagos, and i am not a fearful person by nature. Driving in this city is just, well chaos, and there are several reasons for this. One of the factors that contribute to the insanity that is called driving in this state are the players. These are my observations from driving in Lagos, i might be exaggerating ....

There are several classes of drivers in Lagos, the major ones are below:

Okada Riders
The motor cycles are locally called Okadas, and most Okada riders are in the business of transporting passengers commercially.They are in demand because we do not have a very good road network and frankly due to the highly unpredictable nature of Lagos traffic, taking a Okada can sometimes be the difference between getting to work on time and getting to work an hour later, traffic from CMS to VI anyone??..I did this severally just after i had my son, i was breastfeeding for hours at night and just could not meet up with the staff bus most of the time, and on the days when hubby could not take me to work, viola! ( please don't judge me). Okada riders usually do not follow traffic rules, they run red lights and generally cut you off in traffic without a thought to safety, most do not wear helmets and they are never at fault even if they clearly were. They risk their lives and that of their passengers daily, am certain they believe they are immortals. When driving avoid them.

Keke Marwa Drivers
The tricylcle from India, made popular by the military governor of Lagos state in the 90s, Colonel Marwa, is another nuisance on the road, The Keke Marwa drivers try to squeeze into every crevice when there is traffic and cut corners carelessly, i wonder a lot at how they drive, don't they know that they are not as balanced as the conventional car with four wheels and could topple over very easily? does this fact stop them?, of course not .. be ready to press your brakes at a moments notice when they are around.

Taxi Drivers
Taxi drivers in Lagos are popularly known as Oko Ashewo , please don't ask me what that means, if you were a newbie in Lagos and you happened to be driving behind a taxi, you would mostly likely see an elderly looking man ( they are usually elderly), and you would assume that he was a seasoned driver and that you had nothing to fear right?..WRONG. The Lagos taxi man might be a good driver, he might, but on any given day he is more concerned about getting passengers than about the safety of other road users. Taxis will stop in the middle of the road once they are flagged by a potential customer without hesitation. So if you were driving behind a taxi man, be on your guard, because you will need to press your brakes in a split second to avoid running into him, that, i promise you. The taxis we grew up with were usually old cars and were either unpainted cars (locally called Kabu Kabu) or cars painted in yellow with black stripes. However in recent years there have been an influx of numerous taxi companies, these companies have really nice cars, some complete with uniformed drivers.  Pictures are below for your your viewing pleasure ..you're welcome!

Good old Taxis
New Taxis

Danfo Drivers 
The most popular commercial bus in Lagos is known as a Danfo. The average Danfo driver has homonal imbalance in my opinion, either that or they are possessed by some spirit of self destruction, they drive like they get a medal every time they bash or scratch their vehicles, and they have no problems scratching yours. Who else would change lanes without indicating or race into an express road without looking out for other drivers knowing very well that he does not have the right of way?, Danfo drivers of course...they have never ceased to amaze me with the kind of risks they take, the norm for them is for the conductor to hang by the door, and shout to attract passengers, they just seem unable to sit down in the bus ..smh..I have boarded /heard of Danfos who have done one/more of the following misdeeds:
Having no spare tyre even though his four Tyres are thread bare
Having no carjack for changing said Tyres
Has a faulty radiator yet had no container of water (note water is free,all that is required is a container)
No side mirrors
Brake lights and pointers that do not work
No rear view mirrors
No doors
Windows that cannot be shut ( imagine when it rains)
Leaky Roofs (imagine the rain again)
Clearly the Danfo drivers are unpredictable and unwell, plus they think they are stunt men, please exercise extreme caution when it comes to them

Molue Drivers
The now nearly extinct Lagos city transport were called Molues. The people who drove them were renowned for their trade mark driving styles which comprises of bullying and intimidating other road users with their size, they are fine with running you off the road if you stand in their way and they break every traffic law imaginable.  We hardly see them anymore on Lagos roads and i have only mentioned them here because they have upgraded to another form..

BRT Bus Drivers
 The BRT buses are a favorite among Lagos commuters because they have their own lanes and they are a good and safe way to beat traffic. The drivers of BRT buses on the other hand, must have been the same one who drove molues before they were phased out because they drive in the same exact way ( with a modern twist of course) the only differences being that their vehicles are much nicer and they can't break traffic rules because they are a law unto themselves.When crossing BRT lanes while driving, please do so cautiously.

Trailer Drivers
The trailers who transport shipping line containers are accidents waiting to happen, it seems all the people who drive such vehicles are perceptually high on a narcotic, because they carry containers without securing them and still drive at top speed, seriously, who drives like that? (smh). These trailers have tipped over on other cars, causing death ( sadly) more than once, when driving keep them at a safe distance and if you happen to find yourself in the next lane to them, move as soon as possible.

Tanker Drivers
Also as dangerous as trailer drivers, these drivers are also constantly high on something , they can often be seen driving at top speed, with their horns blaring, they are telling you CLEARLY that they will not slow down for you, even if you have the right of way, if they are anywhere around you ..flee !

The Regular Drivers 
Then there are the  rest of us who drive everyday defensively with ogboju*, and who have Psalm 23 vs 1* engraved on our hearts...

* Bravado
* The lord is my shepherd, i shall not want


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