There is an association of Lagos commercial vehicles – danfo, okada, keke, BRT drivers and conductors. They meet every third Sunday of the month in different locations across Lagos.
I have never been to the meetings or seen anyone who has but I know they do because you cannot tell me that the uniformity of their madness on Lagos roads is not enshrined in a constitution.
I also know (yes, you can’t tell me nothing) that this constitution is passed on from generation to generation using oral tradition i.e. from mouth to ear for those of you who didn’t pay attention in your social studies class.
Now there might be slight variations but the fact remains that there is a pattern to their madness and it cannot be accidental. Here is what I have observed;
- If Lagos bike riders – that is okada men and even those delivery guys – if they stop when the traffic light turns red, poof! They’ll die.
I have never seen an okada man/delivery man in this Lagos stop for traffic light. Never.
Then the bus drivers, if they stop behind the white line like every other car their tires will go flat and work will end for the day. They have to move ahead of every other vehicle, and stay outside the white line, revving their dying engines as if the traffic light is an inconvenience.
If there are no policemen or LASTMA officers there, they will ignore the light and zoom off with their rickety buses.
- When they see NURTW guys, you assume they already know they are supposed to pay them some money, yeah? I mean, they ply the roads daily, they know the arrangement so why all the drama?
Well, bus conductors never want to pay even though they love to collect your money. They will go into theatrics; they jump, they shout, they scream, they beg and finally they will still pay when said NURTW guy removes something from their buses.
- If they stop at the exact bus stop, someone in their family will probably die, so a few feet ahead it is? Yes.
- Leave the buses dirty. In this one, I don’t blame them much. Passengers eat all sorts – groundnuts, boli, roasted corn, gala, soft drinks, chin-chin, etc, and throw them in the bus like it’s a dustbin.
One time I watched a man eat akara in a bus, guess where he cleaned his oil stained fingers when he was done? You guessed right. On the seats.
The drivers, and conductors too, they leave all the dirt inside their buses. Have you ever made the mistake of wearing a white outfit then entered a danfo? How was your experience? Even their sorry excuse for seat belts will stain your dark clothes.
- They don’t care for their buses/bikes until it breaks down on the road. The very thing that is the source of their livelihood.
One of the most terrifying moments for me this year was when the bus I was on suddenly caught fire midway into the journey. When the journey started, the bus engine sounded funny and everyone kept asking driver and conductor if they were sure the bus was fit to ride. Of course, it was until, boom, fire!
- The dress code- There is nothing un-dignifying about being a bus, okada, or keke driver so why do the drivers dress like they do the lowest of all jobs? As long as there is a Lagos, people will always need transportation, but oh well, the constitution insists…
- Always turn “driver/conductor give me my change” into a quarrel, especially when this request comes from a woman.
Before you enter their buses you tell them the denomination you have and they say enter. Or they don’t tell you they don’t have change and you enter their buses. Then to get your change becomes war.
(Please this is not for you people who enter N50 trips and present them with N1000).
Last week one driver told me ‘I get your mate for house’ because I asked for my change (The word change makes me shudder though, APC has left me traumatised.)
- Before you start work for day, wash your mouth with Erujeje/ Chelsea, carry your ancestral troubles to the steering. Be Angry, be unreasonable. Rev that engine and try to kill somebody. It’s Lagos, after all.