THE COLOURS OF INSANITY


Yesterday there was no forewarning as the commercial vehicle rode the bend approaching the Murtala International Airport-a near mangled body lay by the side of the road, another victim of a human-auto crash. There were several sighs, grunts and a momentary silence before the bus’ commuters embarked on the subject ‘cause and consequence’ of expressway crossingstreet-crossers

This morning there was the impending doom signal ahead; a handful of LATSMA officers loitering about a cordoned off lane, a misused tyre and a slowly building traffic on the busy Oshodi-Apapa expressway in Lagos. I saw the body first and I knew there was the split second decision to make-to look or not to. I did the easy part. His lower trunk lay visible underneath a ‘Molue’(a Mercedes 911)-his head smashed to smithereens, flattened underneath the bus’ right rear tyre-a very gory sight. There were a zillion signs of crosses, grunts, closed eyes and clenched teeth-fortunately no one puked. The bus preacher continued loudly battling for relevance while the remaining commuters debated why the fellow’s body wasn’t extricated from underneath the vehicle.

Yellow and  horizontal black stripes are  the colours of insanity in Lagos. You’re always jumping off, on and being pushed off a commercial vehicle. ‘owo da’ is the demand that twenty naira has to be paid to a street urchin as a commercial bus approaches Oshodi-Money which sums up to between 200 naira and 300 naira as the bus nears Oshodi bus stop. If the bus fails to ‘concur’ it meant the loss of a side mirror, a front screen wiper or a spare tyre while pot bellied policemen look on. Ten times that amount would the bus part with if apprehended by the state’s transport officials for traffic offenses such as; wrong parking, passengers disembarking at non designated bus stops, the list is endless.

With a population size a little over 9 million, getting around Lagos is chaotic. Everything moves on the roads; cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. There are no rules for embarking on a journey; walking against, with, side by side, and into traffic is the norm. It’s Hell’s bells ringing. Footbridges are apathetically viewed as one of road transportation’s paraphernalia; a monument to be viewed not walked upon. This perhaps explains why fewer people use footbridges in a month than express-way crossers in a day. With rather weak transportation laws, no one has been or is likely to be prosecuted for ‘Usain Bolting’ across the expressways-trying to achieve the impossible where perhaps taking on a gazelle in a 6o meter dash would have been more successful. Make no bones about it, 9 million people crossing the expressways is more real than just a sizeable number of commercial buses or transport officials trying to force people to use the bridges-simply put it’s a deeply entrenched system of systematic disregard for public rule that is now gnawing at the soul of the state

Daily, hundreds of lives are lost in road accidents in Lagos-notoriously earning the state a spot on the macabre list of the deadliest roads in the world. Providing sustainable, secure and efficient transport system for Lagos, means de-emphasizing road transport. Get the trains and ferries on board and it will save nine and perhaps also change the pallid colour of transportation in the state to maybe the calm blue of the Atlantic Ocean which borders the state

Aghogho, CONNECTAFRICA


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2 Responses

  1. Spot on, Aghogho.
    Spot on.

  2. This is a very good write up.

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