by Kay Omar
I love Lagos traffic, and I hate people who complain about them.
Where are you hurrying to by the way? And anyway, y’all who complain about it are the ones who cause it in the first place.
You’ll see cars coming from all corners at a junction and not one of them thinks to stop to let the other pass. No, I must pass first! Screech!!! And there you have it – “go slow!”
I like “go slow.” There are many things I can do in go slow which I wouldn’t be able to do if the road were free.
First of all, I get to look around at my surroundings; notice things that I wouldn’t have noticed in a speeding car. I take note of landmarks for the next time I pass through; or for any day I happen to stop by and seem to have lost my way. I take note of the changes to that area: the growth of a roadside market, the new defacement on a bridge and the latest mad man that has found a home under the same bridge.
I also get to watch “free fight” between conductor and agbero or a bunch of losers affiliated to no one but themselves.
You’re not a Lagosian if you don’t like to watch “free” street-fight. Admit it, jo! You stop to watch! I’ve seen you there once or twice.
Anyway, I like to watch (especially from the safety of a car or bus) all the gra-gra that leads to nothing more than two grown men shadow-boxing and trying to lift each other off their feet. Sometimes the free fight happens right in the bus especially on my favorite, the Coaster. Of course there are more violent fights but thank God, I’ve never witnessed one of those.
The heat, the smell from your neighbour’s load or body and then some preacher’s or fake medicine seller’s loud tones can all lead to very frustrating conditions indeed. But on a good day, you can actually get a fairly uncomfortable nap on the un-upholstered seats.
Or you can read. I get to read often in go-slow – when I am not looking out of the window at the sights, or for something to buy and chew on. I think I spend more money buying chops out of the window of an idling car in go-slow than I do on the actual transport fare.
But when go-slow becomes sweetest, is when I get to go on a BRT or LAGBUS. That’s Go. Slow. Bliss…
On a BRT, being in go-slow becomes akin to one of the perks of taking a luxury ride. You should see us passengers at Leventis bus stop! We wait patiently on the queue and buy supplies – banana, bottled drinks, beef rolls and all kinds of snacks in preparation for the “long journey” home. When you’re in a BRT, you don’t mind go-slow. There’s “harmattan” on B- okay, actually LAGBUS. There’s air-conditioning on the LAGBUS, and as it moves the cool air, the radio turned to a certain pidgin English radio station and the supplies you were wise enough to buy at the bus-stop all help to turn the go-slow experience to a beautiful one. Sigh! Give me more of those wasted hours.