by ‘ Ifreke Inyang [@Ifreke]
When you hear someone say, “Twitter keeps me company when I’m in traffic”, then obviously that Nigerian isn’t following @Gidi_Traffic. When you want up to speed, real-time updates on which routes are free and where there’s been traffic for days – especially in Lagos – this is go-to guy. YNaija went ‘bumper to bumper’ with him.
How did you get on Twitter?
I got on Twitter like every regular person only not on the GidiTraffic account, which was created on 23 September, 2011.
Why did you choose to open an account that tweets about traffic updates?
I observed Twitter as a whole and couldn’t clearly define a positive use or impact it had on its users, other than just being an ‘online playground’, basically for the youth to have fun, interact, gossip, act naughty, etc.
So I decided to make something positive out of the time spent on it. I looked at all the so-called famous people on Twitter and wondered how exactly they affected lives positively other than just commanding a large follower base. So I searched our society and there it was – TRAFFIC! It’s a menace in these parts and everybody hates it and it’s something that can’t be immediately eradicated, so I felt if I gave people on-the-go road status report it would help alleviate the stress by helping them reroute, avoid, reschedule or maneuver through traffic. That’s why I decided to tweet traffic reports.
What else do you do? It does seem you are on Twitter a lot.
Of course I have to be on Twitter a lot; it’s a requirement from this service I render. So whether with handheld or a PC, I have to be on always it’s a commitment.
How does Twitter help with what you do?
Twitter helps a lot with what I do because by using this Twitter tool, I get to reach thousands of people simultaneously and they in turn can spread the word. It’s like a chain reaction.
Who would you say is your favourite Tweeter?
My favorite Tweeter, let me see. It has got to be @veeztwit because she was one of my first followers and she’s very judicious to the cause, if everyone could be as judicious as she is I bet the service would be a lot better than you know it.
Is there any particular tweet you’ll never forget? Tell us about it.
Oh yes so many I have them all favourited you can check. There’s one in particular – a tweet from Jon Gambrell [@JongambrellAP], the Chief Correspondent for Associated Press.There was an accident on the Third Mainland bridge which led to traffic at an unusual time. So I sent out the report to avoid that route and it got to the AP team who were on their way to the island. They went through Western Avenue instead and made it on time. He then tweeted at me appreciating my service. That felt good to know my service sure saves a lot: work, appointments, meetings, etc.
“Social media has great power in changing our community and helping to solve or alleviate certain ills if harnessed properly.
Have you had any embarrassing/memorable experience on Twitter? If yes, what happened?
No, I have never had an embarrassing moment. I’m barely three months in operation and I keep it straight.
What are the downsides of being on Twitter?
Downsides of being on Twitter, for me, basically would be the time it consumes, but then again, I’m committed to rendering this service and seeing it save people.
How much power does the social media have these days?
Social media has great power in changing our community and helping to solve or alleviate certain ills if harnessed properly e.g. do you know @Gidi_Traffic’s template can be used to monitor the 2015 elections successfully and help reduce various election misconducts greatly.
Right. Okay, a lot of people have wondered how you get traffic updates from different parts of Lagos simultaneously. How do you do it?
Like I told some tweep a while back, I’m not a surveillance camera hanging under a chopper. My Twitter bio reads ‘Lending each other an eye’, so we are each other’s eyes, so everyone in their different areas tweet their current traffic status at me and I post it so that way if you keep up with my TL you get a nourished detail of road status at all times. People also make requests and I feed them with a response that’s how it works..
Do you think Twitter will have a major influence on transportation and traffic in the coming years? How?
Yes, Twitter and the social media will definitely have a major influence on transportation and traffic in time for example, cases of accident, robbery, broken down vehicles, etc. I report faster than the officials do. Imagine what would happen if I worked with the government reporting in real-time both traffic and securit;, that would save a lot of lives and also people’s time.
Describe your Twitter persona in three words.
Efficient. Mystic. Jovial.
Do you follow back readily? Why?
Yes, I follow back readily. I figured the fastest way to generate ill-will on Twitter is by refusing to follow back and plus its a forum so I have to be in touch with everyone.
What would possibly make you close your Twitter account?
Well, when we finally don’t have traffic problem in Lagos, and people don’t need my updates anymore..
Twitter Stats (As at 10.08am, 25 November)
Favourite tweets: 352
About Our Twitter Series:
First there was radio, then satellite television, the internet and now… Twitter! In just a few years, this social networking platform has changed the face of communication and convergence around the world. Even news now breaks on Twitter first! As the connoisseurs of popular culture, YNaija created its Twitter series (Twitter Round-up, Twitter Round-up Xtra & You Tweet) with the aim of profiling this New World of information, connection and – in all honesty – fun! At YNaija we think of Twitter as the new, global office water cooler. Gather round!