Wednesday, 9 August 2017

LS1 - On Half Tank

Posted by Lola on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 in , , | 6 comments
Every morning as soon as I hit the road I close my eyes briefly to pray. A much specific, different kind of prayer from the morning 4 a.m./5-ish general prayer. This time I cast and bind reckless okada 'motorcycle' riders and the unavoidable danfo 'yellow' bus drivers who are and will remain the king of Lagos roads, regardless of what Governor Ambode does.

In fact I have 3 critical spots where my heartsong and whisper to Baba God is loudest. Make that 6. First would be CLIMBING the Ojuelegba bridge with steady hands. Second would be MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on the entire stretch of that bridge. Third would be CLIMBING the Kalakuta bridge otherwise known as Mosholashi bridge; you know that one connecting Fadeyi bus stop. And fourth would be what? You guessed right! MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on that bridge, without wavering at the sight and sound of all cars, trucks and tankers (As a driver and as a 'drivee' passenger, my fear for tankers, trucks - all huge vehicles is extreme). Fifth critical prayer spot would be that Ikeja computer village bridge. Goodness me! The white and black, zebra-like pattern on the culvert makes me dizzy and lose focus. I almost rammed into it on a return drive from the office…

Let me hold the last tightly to my chest before you figure out my commute to work J

Anyway so I set out this morning ready to begin my ritual. Normally I would drive through service lane once I burst out from Stadium and link the Ojuelegba bridge after Barracks because I don’t have enough liver to join the express drivers descending Stadium bridge. Today was no different except for one major glitch, TRAFFIC!!! I suppose it is inevitable to live in Lagos and not be held still in one. That Barracks area in particular has gained some notoriety in press. It almost always makes headline with news of one tanker toppling over or something as strange and depressing.

This morning I faced that dread on half tank! AC off because I had no idea how long it was going to take to ease. Windows all up because of fear of being attacked and smartly robbed, yes I have heard it happen in broad daylight. I put my mind to work as we all waited. I thought of all the things my instructor taught me about defensive driving. Could I apply any? Imagine being sandwiched between a long truck and a BRT bus, not knowing which lane to fall into. No shakara on Lagos road mehn. No ‘headstronging’ anywhere. Using your trafficator light won’t cut it for you. You have to look meekly into their eyes - that always paves way. Eyeball to eyeball ‘lo le se’ (only direct eye contact can do it). I wound my glass down, just a bit and begged oga truck driver to let me take position in front of him. A mistake? With every small movement I would feel the truck drag behind me and shake the very core of the ground we drove on. Everything was vibrating. The bridge. My car. My legs. Any small move, tanker will follow. I was tempted to wave at oga tanker driver to keep his distance as we neared a slope. I mean it wasn’t exactly gridlock but switching lanes was impossible! At that moment when oga tanker climbed the slope in preparation to descend, I unhooked my seat belt, unlocked the doors and remained alert…well you can imagine why.

The first breather I got, I switched lanes straight up.

After wasting precious time and battling emotions in traffic(conflicting emotions like if I should park somewhere and jump bus to work or if I should randomly pick up someone who could drive at the bus stop), my DH has agreed and promised to show me an alternate route so wisdom will be profitable to direct me next time.

Till my next #LearnerSeries XoXo


  1. "I unhooked my seat belt, unlocked the doors and remained alert".. alert to do what again? Please be safe out there. Driving in Nigeria is not an ordinary matter. Driving in Lagos,one has to make spiritual invocations as well. Descending or ascending a bridge with an articulated vehicle in tow is a no-no. Switch lanes before that happens even if you have to stop moving for a while. Let other road users abuse you if they like. And whatever you do, try not to jump out of a moving vehicle if it's not on fire. My God, the experience reads like an action movie. 007 things.

    1. Of course my Security/Migration expert, driving in this part of the world is not an ordinary matter and I take it seriously. Post just ended up being hilarious. I won't abandon car and flee while in motion. I will be extra cautious on my daily commute. The abuse is not easy getting used to but i'll try absorb them for my safety :-)

    2. while i lived in Lagos i learnt how to drive, one thing i learnt and which has stayed with me is that those tanker drivers/truck drivers are the kings of the road. you show them lack of respect at your own peril.
      "I unhooked my seat belt, unlocked the doors and remained alert" this aspect reminds me of something out of a "Fast and Furious" movie.. great write up as usual.. big ups and looking forward to more.

    3. I'm in total agreement with you JAJ, you show them lack of respect at your own peril. How have you been mate? Thanks for the support and anticipation for more, that's enough motivation for me (y)

  2. My dear, congratulations first of all.

    Secondly, welcome to Lagos driving. You're on your way to being the next shumaker.

    I enjoyed reading as usual.

  3. Driving in any part of Lagos is not an activity for the weak or faint hearted: Thank God I'm neither of those.

    The traffic, I can relate with but mehn, I don't know what to call my kind of driving... Fear and indecision are tools I find quite unhelpful on the road.

    You've opined the experience of Lagos drivers, sometimes I wonder if we could see from the eyes of the Danfo, Okada, Marwa and the rest; I'm sure they'd have some hilarious POVs.

    Well written Mami