Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Traffic In Lagos Nigeria

Traders hawking and displaying their wares on a road in Enugu
Imagine wanting to exercise to keep fit and deciding to do that by putting your neck into a loop tied up in the ceiling.

Imagine running barefoot but on a road paved with shards of glass.

Well, just imagine travelling on a busy, uncontrolled road amongst 90% of drivers who has never knowingly got a driving lesson. And in fact, probably never had any driving lesson yet driving all manner of vehicles.

The above describes traffic in Nigeria. Traffic laws are yet to be imagined for this society. If you want to drive, get into a car and zoom off. Yet, in that risky road use, there is no speed control; and road signs are scanty or completely non-existent. Traffic wardens do appear but are fewer than leaves on a winter tree. All you need to do when it comes to driving, is get your hand on a car.

For those coming from the developed world, do not worry, insurance is not part of the thinking here and majority have not either heard the word insurance in the real sense of it or never gave it a second thought.

And if you think that is all, you'll be shocked to hear that a high percentage of the vehicles on the road are far from road worthiness. Heavy duty trucks with no lights or those with too much lights - terrible for when they are heading your way from the opposite direction in the night. And oh! Night means pitch darkness..

Due the above, the horn is the driver's best tool. The horn is all you hear once out and if not insulated in an airconditioned car. 

Part of the road transport is the notorious motorbike system. Its a sleek way to getting to your destination faster, so people love it. And who wouldnt? The traffic jam can be harrowing, with barmy temperature soaring into desert weather system.

Drivers all go at breathtaking speed, while at nights, headlamps are put to the full power. Cars compete with scary monstrous trucks and danfos - small/mini buses -and all chasing up motorbikes and taxis hunting for passengers like hungry Cheetahs.

Accidents arent unexpected. So are other disruptions or a complete blockage of the road traffic. Drivers can turn or drive in any direction just as pedestrians can cross the roads at any point; including on motorways with mind-blowingly speed limits that seems to have the devil on their tails.

Nigeria has a long way to go. Speaking to people, they dont think they need to learn driving, and a lot think driving license is a waste of time 'since they can give the police something to get on their way.

Among all the above chaos, traders of all manners are part of the road structure displaying and hawking their wares in every available spaces.

But in two days, I have got my sister and a few others to start using seat-belts, including my nieces and nephew.

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