Driving in Lagos

Someone once told me that if you can drive in Lagos, you can drive anywhere else in the world. For a long time I believed those words because it is only logical that if you can do something in the hardest or toughest conditions, you can do it when things are easier. In the past few weeks I have decided to re-evaluate whether this is true. 

What makes driving in Lagos truly challenging is quite complex and difficult to explain. One reason I say this is the fact that there are too many cars and not enough roads; hence most of your driving experience is spent in traffic (‘go slow’), and I have to say that driving in traffic is an art. It is a story of near misses and dodging of  potholes, danfos (commercial busses) , and broken down vehicles. It is one of patience when there is grid-lock and gruesome aggression when the traffic eases up. 

There is also the competing modes of transport. In some parts of Lagos okadas (motorcycles), kekes (Nigerian rickshaws) commercially  operate simultaneously as well as danfos, let us not forget the occasional bicycle rider. What this means is that the average Lagos Motorist has a lot to pay attention to; you can not make sharp turns or fail to horn or use your pointer( “traffigator”), You have to communicate effectively with your lights to not only other private cars but other road users (pedestrians inclusive) to avoid accidents.

There is also the number of trucks in Lagos. For a long time, I remember avoiding roads that had too many big trucks and tankers. I soon realised that the only way to avoid them was to move out of Lagos; they are everywhere. The hardest part about driving next to an average 7.5 tonne truck in Lagos is the ‘road-bullying’. These truck drivers are in a mad rush and will do anything to get you out of the way. With a lot of horning you can overcome your fear and overtake a truck (but please don’t overtake them on a bend).

For the most part driving in Lagos is tough, however just because you can drive in Lagos does not make you a better driver, in contrast I think you become a horrible driver. The driving environment in Lagos does not foster good driving habits, such as, waiting at a zebra crossing, or giving way for traffic on the left. It is almost impossible to observe any of these traffic paradigms because of the fear of causing an accident when you slow down suddenly or the simple fact that there is just too much traffic to slow down any further.

Driving in Lagos is no guarantee that driving anywhere else will be easier, for the most part it is harder to drive else where because there is a lot more to driving than just competing for space, road raging and horning!lagos-traffic
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She sat on the chair just facing the window sill, it was the first time she had sat there- in this position. Usually she was never up this early to see the sun giving off this amazing colour- it was a bit like twilight but it wasn’t. In all her years of living in this house it was the first time she noticed the plants on the porch, how they blossomed recovering from the  morning due. She remembered when Edna insisted on planting them but she had been to busy to argue, she longed for the days when things were back to normal when she got flowers from strangers and felt loved. All alone she sat on the porch with regret wishing for a different life, where she appreciated things more, where she was not so busy…

“What are you doing up so early?”

She stared at him and noticed just how old Brian had become. The wrinkle across his forehead was apparent and his eyes were dark and baggy apparently from insomnia.

“I couldn’t sleep. I just realised the sun rose from this part of the house”

Brian was not one who cared much about nature, she knew he wanted her to go back in to the house. But she was stubborn and was prepared to start a fight if he uttered those words.