Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.
Driving or riding on Nigerian roads comes with different kinds of horrors; from traffic to potholes that nearly cause accidents, these are 8 Nigerians’ experiences using Nigerian roads.
I was going to work one Friday when an Uber driver sped past my car on the right and in the process, took out my right side mirror completely.
It was even more infuriating that he didn’t stop to assess the damage so I chased his car all the way past the Chevron Tollgate while blowing my horn like a mad person. When I was able to block his car, I got down, went straight to his side of the car, and motioned for him to wind down. He did. I asked him if he was aware that he took off my side mirror. He said yes in a smug way, and basically said it was my fault. I was enraged and screaming at him, saying that he was going to have to pay for it. He wound up his side window in the middle of my screaming.
I think at that point I could only see white. I calmly knocked on his window and motioned again for him to wind down. He did. I asked him, for the sake of clarity, if he was sure he would not pay for the damage. He looked at me and said he definitely wouldn’t. I said, “Okay”, then I smashed his side mirror with my hand, ripped it off, and tossed it into the expressway.
For me, it has to be the time I was driving back from the island. A bus and one car had been doing Fast and Furious for a bit. Entering lanes, cussing each other out, all that. This guy and the conductor were just at each other’s necks. So at a fork junction on the bridge, the danfo hit the man’s car and he did the strangest thing. He got down from his car, in the middle of the bridge, and chased the danfo on foot. The direction the danfo was going had a bit of traffic, but the other side (going down) was free. He now started pulling the conductor down from the bus to beat him and the conductor resisted and kicked the guy in the chest. The man tripped and staggered back into the free lane and a car cleared him. He was unconscious as at when I left, I hope he survived it.
So sometime last November, I took an Uber from V.I to Ebute Metta. Left the office a little after 3 pm, I didn’t get home till after 9 pm. I probably should have just ended the trip and walked, but the driver was so nice and kept the AC on throughout without complaining about fuel. My card was connected to the app so I didn’t see the amount till I got the mail notification. It was ₦10,000 and I think I lost my hearing for a few minutes after I saw it.
Last October coming back late from an event at around past 10 pm, the roads were not lit but we were going so smoothly. Next thing there was a huge pothole in the road and we hit it. Immediately the driver hit the pothole, I thought for a fact that I was dead. But the driver somehow managed to pull a stunt I had never seen. He diverted the car into the BRT lanes so those curbs were what stobbed the car from flipping. I am glad to have survived, but the cost of repairs was over ₦200,000.
We had gone to Osun for my graduation and the trip there was generally uneventful. However, on our way back we decided to go through Epe to get to the island, passing through a village in Ogun State. It was slowly approaching nighttime and unknown to us there was a ritual festival going in the middle of the main road. Worse, women were not allowed to see a particular masquerade at the festival. Panic ensued as the participants rushed to our vehicle and started banging on the window asking the women, my mum included, to bend down. Luckily our driver basically sped off through the middle of the crowd and that was how we were able to evade them.
Last week, I spent 3 hours in Okada, Edo state because armed robbers were robbing ahead of us. They robbed the first luxurious bus at about 5 am -ish and killed the driver, so all other vehicles coming were packed at the side of the road. No one wanted to cross the luxurious as it was used as a barricade, so we all just sat down waiting for who to go first. All the while my heart was racing, it was a scary experience, just waiting at the side of the road, what if they come out again shooting? We left Benin at 9 am and only got to Lagos, my destination, at 7 pm.
It was a few years ago and the bus I was in was at a stop in Shagamu. Everyone was buying stuff through the window, getting to know each other. There was an old man behind me who started sharing his experiences with Nigerian roads, robbery, potholes, e.t.c, and soon everyone else began to share theirs. The old man cracked a joke about how, “if Armed robbers even stop me like this, them for vex shoot me become I know get money.” Everyone laughed. Then an awkward silence followed after the bus moved. Most of us slept off, and some kilometers and hours later. Everyone woke up at the same time, but it wasn’t because of daylight, it was because our bus had been surrounded and armed Robbers were shooting. I only had ₦15 in my pocket.
I got admission into a Canadian institution and had to travel to Calabar to see my mom and pick up some important documents before I left. The plan was to book my flight from Calabar to Lagos. Travel day arrives and I left Calabar by 12 pm. My flight was at 3 pm. It should take less than 2 hours to travel from Calabar to Uyo if the roads were good. At 1 pm, I was still far from the airport and that was where my cry started.
To top that, these army people stopped us and said they wanted to search the bus as some of the villages were in clashes. That took an extra 20 minutes. I was legit was crying in the bus and stepping on my imaginary accelerator. The time was about 2:45 when I finally arrived at the airport. Then Ibom airline said boarding was closed but if I can leave my boxes then I can join the flight. All my pleas fell to deaf ears and in about ten minutes, I stared as the plane taxied away. After wailing the airport down, I just went to my best friend’s house with my swollen eyes. I look back and I just say Tufiakwa! Nigeria was made to suffer its citizens. If Calabar’s airport was functional or if the road was good or maybe if I was able to leave Calabar by 6 am, I would have made it on time.