6 Things I Recently Learnt in Lagos
I have had the privilege of visiting the commercial capital of Nigeria twice in two months; September and October, 2018. On these two visits I had the opportunity of staying on the Island and on the Mainland. I therefore will like to share with you, the few things I noticed.
Forgive me, but I will tend to drift towards politics in the course of this article but you’d be fine, just go on.
- Island and Mainland are like London and Abuja:
In aesthetics, coordination, the difference of the Island from the Mainland is very clear. In the words of the Cab driver I interviewed, who drove me around the mainland, “For Island, if dem won do road, dem dey do am fast. For here, no be like that.” I will not take his words as fact because I am told the Island also suffers from the same predicament (the whole of Nigeria suffers the same predicament).
You may have heard Lagosians tell you that Lagos is improving, getting better, cleaner under this government or under that government. Truth is, most of those Lagosians stay on the Island or close to it, those on the mainland are seeing the same things they saw four years ago. How do I know, if I am just visiting Lagos? Well, I visited Lagos mainland 4 years ago and except for a few good roads on the mainland and an Improvement at the airport, nothing really changed but towards the Island, well the story is different. They even have billboards telling the weather and some other informative things for the next day. The Island seems to be under a different leadership as the mainland; the cleaners come out first thing in the morning and the traffic lights still work at night. On the Mainland even the Security Officers citizens normally depend on to help out in traffic during rush hour, close by 6pm or if they’re feeling good, 7pm.
- Lekki Tollgate is Expensive but Effective:
I think Lekki Tollgate is one of the few tollgates in Nigeria that actually works (I haven’t been to a lot of tollgates in Nigeria o) but it is too expensive. The driver of the car I was in at the time of this observation, smiled as he said, “This tollgate na 400 Naira to comot, if you forget something and you won enter again, na 400 Naira again.” So imagine a million cars pass through those gates in a week, don’t you think they have made enough money to pay for whatever the tollgate was created to pay for? I think so, but it is still there.
I often wonder, what will happen if someone forgot his purse in his house and needed to pass through to get the money in the purse?
Maybe I will ask Tinubu (I hear he is the major shareholder of that tollgate)
- Shared Carriage on Okada:
I had a beautiful wedding to attend very early on the mainland. I suspected the Cab driver who charged 3000 Naira from where I was to the location of the wedding, so, I decided to ask around and figured out that I could use the normal transportation route to this location. I then resorted to stopping an Okada.
Every Okada was with one or two passengers so I waited for a free one. One finally came, whichI flagged down but he refused and went to the man behind me so, I waited. To my surprise, that same Okada came to where I stood with his other passenger to ask me to enter.
In my mind, I was like I don’t even know the other guy and you want me to share this carriage. Soon another one came and I flagged it down and then bargained with the driver, but as I got in, he went to another passenger to make up for what I extracted, so, I told him “Go, I will pay you the full amount.” Then I realized that, if you see two people on an Okada in some places, in Lagos, it may not be that they are friends or colleagues, they just may be passengers.
- The Traffic, my God:
The driver said to me, “Your flight came at the right time, if you had come later than this, the traffic would have been worse.” I said in my mind, “There is something worse than this?” Prior to that conversation, the driver had stepped out in the middle of the road to go and stretch. Then, just ahead I saw a driver of what I believe was a manual vehicle, with his left leg out of the window.
Just because of how terrible the traffic was that day or so I thought.
- Lagosians have faith that Nigeria will be better:
Many Lagosians are aware of the politics ongoing in Nigeria. Most of them I have interviewed, have spoken of how they always pray for a better Nigeria. They hope for the best in 2019.
- Danfo Buses or Arcade Artifacts
Finally, I believe the Danfo Buses in Lagos are legendary. So legendary most of them could be referred to as Adults in term of Age; when you seat in one, you may realize that, that vehicle may be older than you.
As long as the bus moves, the owners do not care about maintenance and until the introduction of Lastma, the danfo drivers drove however they felt. They still do, but this time around, they have a little more caution for fear of being arrested.
If you come out on the mainland and do not see a Danfo, then I must tell you that the rapture has happened and sadly, you were left behind.
No, I wasn’t talking to you.