9 Nigerian Women Talk About Travelling By Road In Nigeria

May 27, 2021

Travelling by road in Nigeria is a herculean task because of the bad roads, multiple police checkpoints and probable kidnap attempts but what’s travelling by road in Nigeria like for women? I spoke to nine Nigerian women about their experiences, here’s what they had to say: 

Timinu, 24

I used to travel by road a lot and I felt safe. I was only scared of road accidents and I’d ease myself by listening to music or reading a book. But now, with all the stories of kidnappings happening in the South West, I am getting increasingly scared. I travelled to Lagos five weeks ago and I haven’t been able to leave because of fear. I don’t want to be a hashtag. 

Onyinye, 30

I lived in Delta and schooled in the north so I would travel in a big marcopolo bus with over 40 other people. It was so big that people would buy tickets to stand. It’s a long journey and the drivers try not to stop at night. One time when I was 19, I was making the trip back to school as usual and sometime in the evening, I offered a man that had been standing all through the trip a space to seat. I slept off shortly after. 

At about 2 am I noticed someone was touching me. I waved it off and slept again but ten minutes later, it happened again. I kept my eyes closed and waited, only to discover that the man I gave a space to sit was touching me. I screamed and guess who got blamed? Me.

Wumi, 21

When I was in a long-distance relationship with my partner, I used to travel a lot. I was a student, so I would make the trip after classes. She lived in a state that was quite far from mine. I never felt safe travelling. One time, I woke up to this man rubbing my thighs. I shouted at him and he adjusted. I was really tired so I slept off again. This time, I woke up to him moving my dress up.

I couldn’t sleep again. There were four other men in the car and I didn’t want to make a fuss so I just sat there feeling violated till the trip ended. Do you know this idiot had the guts to ask for my number? 

Road travel has made me hate travelling. I’m always anxious and constantly thinking of how to protect myself. There’s also the fact that male passengers can be extremely mean to female passengers for no reason. One time, I was travelling with my sister and the driver stopped so people could ease themselves. My sister went to buy tissue paper first so she took a bit more time than others. One of the male passengers started calling her names and slut-shaming her for wasting time. When I tried to stand up to him, another guy threatened to slap me for talking like that. Another thing is if a woman is complaining about an issue, the men either try to shut her up or ignore what she’s saying until it affects them too. It’s so disgusting. 

Ivie, 25

In December 2016, I travelled to the village for my sister’s traditional wedding. I had to go alone because my parents had left already and my other siblings had work. The journey went on smoothly until I got to my final destination, Aba around 12 am. My sister who was supposed to pick me up couldn’t because the park was too far from her house and it was late. 

All my family members were worried. My father eventually spoke to the driver who said he’d look after me till the next morning. He gave me a space in his bus to sleep and turned on the air conditioner all night. He even offered me food. I was so scared but nothing bad happened to me.

The next day, trust men, he asked for my number. I told him to give me his and I never called. When I was going back, I used GIG

Tare, 21

In April, I was travelling with two of my friends — a girl and a guy, when police stopped us on the road. They told the guy to come down because he was the only guy in the vehicle. They searched his phone and his luggage. I was worried they’d check my phone next and see all the queer pictures and then they would out me to my parents before extorting me. They let him go but that incident left a scar. 

Louisa, 23

My mom, sister and I used to shuffle between Lagos and Anambra or Owerri between 2011 to 2018. My dad had relocated to the East and we always wanted to spend holidays with him. Travelling by road is the ghetto. Paying for 3 flight tickets was expensive, especially around peak periods so we either took a bus or my mum drove. 

With Public transportation, men disrespected us a lot. We would book a seat and someone else would take it because we are women. I hated having to wear jeans or some other uncomfortable clothing so that if anything happened, I could run easily. Another reason I wore jeans was so that in case anyone tried to rape me, my chances of getting away safely were higher. The disadvantage of wearing jeans is that whenever the bus stops for bathroom breaks it’s a struggle to pee. Those toilets are the fastest places to get infections so you have to do your business outside. This means finding a place by the road that is open but still secluded enough to keep your private parts covered. By the time you’re done, all the men are complaining about how women always take time. 

Travelling in a private car with my mom driving is a different story. The security personnel on the road stop us and say things like, “Madam this work na oga suppose dey do am.” We would also have to leave late when we are sure there are enough cars on the road and only buy fuel at popular filling stations. Also, motorists get more hostile when they realise it’s a woman behind the steering wheel. 

Travelling by road is not safe for women either way; not in our private car and definitely not in public transport.

Dolapo, 25

I was travelling back to Ife from Ibadan a couple of years ago. I remember being comfortable at the back of the bus as the bus wasn’t full. I was sitting next to a man in his 30s and I had a lot of stuff on my lap that I couldn’t put in the trunk. After about an hour on the bus, I decided to rearrange the things in my lap and what did I find? The man next to me had his left hand in my crotch. Like between my legs. I honestly became paralysed. I was shocked because how the hell did I not notice? I felt like I caused it because I wasn’t vigilant enough — I was too relaxed. I shouted at the man and he started acting like he didn’t know what happened. He said it was a mistake. He came down before I did and apologized again. That made me even more confused because was it really a mistake? I wasn’t alright for days after the incident. 

Bemigho, 21

Safety while travelling by road in Nigeria depends on how much you can spend to travel. If I’m not booking a flight to the east, then I’ll just enter one of those private siennas. It’s almost like travelling in your own private car. It is safe and you get space to yourself but that is interstate travel though. I feel safer travelling interstate in Nigeria than just commuting within Lagos. I used to trust Uber or Bolt but even those aren’t safe anymore. Whenever I’m in Lagos, I have a bottle of pepper spray in my bag. If you come close to me try anything funny, I will spray your daddy!  

Omo, 24

In 2015, I was returning to Akwa from Lagos. I was only 18 at the time. When we got to Benin, a guy on the bus I boarded asked for my phone to make a call, but I politely declined. He got angry and started shouting at me. I said, “This is my phone, why are you upset?” He started threatening to beat me. He actually tried to hit but I defended myself — thanks to my fingernails, they did a good job on his face. After the fight, he kept threatening me.

Everyone else kept quiet and pretended they weren’t seeing him harass me. I noticed the guy texted his friends to meet him at Onitsha, that they had something to fix. I got scared and called the driver’s attention to it. That was when everyone started shouting at him and I think it’s because they also felt at risk. 

Immediately we got to Asaba, the driver stopped at the nearest police checkpoint and handed the guy over to them, that was what saved me that day. 

Subscribe here.

Mariam Sule

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

July 22, 2020

Whenever a public proposal video where the woman says no surfaces on the internet, it’s usually followed by a litany of assumptions about the cruelty of the woman. No one ever seems to ask why the woman turned down the proposal. Was she unsuspecting? Or not ready to marry? Did she not love him? Or […]

October 6, 2020

They said something about how I fit the description of an accomplice for some yahoo boys around the area because of my nose ring and face. They didn’t even do the routine Nigerian police “may we meet you,” they just asked me to open my car door and get out. I mean, I had to because they had guns.

Watch

Now on Zikoko

June 18, 2021

People love us for various reasons. Take this quiz and we’ll tell you what your friends love most about you. Relationships can be hard, and sometimes you just need someone to give you a bit of advice. Ask Ozzy is our new advice column where you send Zikoko the relationship questions that have been bugging […]

June 17, 2021

While smart investing is a sure way to build and retain wealth, it can be a daunting prospect for beginners. In the same vein, it is a lot easier when you understand the various options in which you can invest and ultimately grow your wealth. Here are some options you can consider when taking the […]

June 17, 2021

The BBNaija Lockdown Reunion (2020’s edition of Big Brother Naija) show will air on the 17th of June 2021. Keeping with the tradition of the show, the reunion will be hosted by Ebuka Obi Uchendu and will feature some of the BBN: Lockdown housemates talking about memorable moments from their season while also hashing out […]

June 17, 2021

Union Bank has announced a nationwide campaign to give away 55 Million Naira to new and existing customers in its ‘Save & Win Palli’ promo. This is another way the Bank is offering Nigerians some relief (a.k.a. ‘palliative’) from the economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. During the promo period […]

Recommended Quizzes

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

More from Her

Acne
June 16, 2021

Dealing with acne is never easy. From random people recommending products to you to the self-esteem dip, everyone has their story. In this article, seven Nigerian women talk about living with acne.  Khloe, 22  I was 14 the first time I noticed acne on my face. It was my first year in university. I didn’t […]

June 16, 2021

The subject of this week’s What She Said is a 25-year-old Nigerian woman who has travelled to over fifteen countries alone. She talks about how this love for travelling started, the way she’s stigmatised at airports and in hotels, and her dream to attend aviation school. What was growing up like? Life was good until […]

menstrual cups
June 15, 2021

As inflation happens and prices of products across the country increase, more Nigerian women are moving away from pads to more sustainable sanitary products. In this article, five Nigerian women talk about their experience using menstrual cups.  Elizabeth, 19 Sanitary pads never did it for me. Getting good sanitary pads was a real struggle for […]

June 11, 2021

How we start our day usually has a paramount effect on how the rest of our day goes. When you love a woman or want to move to a woman you like, it is important you send her beautiful messages to put her in the right mood. Here’s a list of helpful ways on how […]

June 11, 2021

We have written about some of the ways the Twitter ban affects Nigerians. Here’s a list of the ways the ban affects Nigerian women. It will affect their access to: 1. Learning opportunities Twitter has always been a source of information to many women. In an article published yesterday, some women talked about how they […]

June 10, 2021

Feminism is a diverse movement that aims to liberate women and other oppressed groups. Each feminist’s path is different from the next. In this article, I asked eight Nigerian women why they became feminists, and here’s what they had to say:  Kay, 26 I was a feminist even before I knew what the word meant. […]

consequences of teen pregnancies
June 10, 2021

I read a lot of books growing up about the consequences of teen pregnancies and it was always interesting to me how teenagers were treated without a care in such conversations. Nothing about how they feel or how it happened and how to prevent it — just age-old fear-mongering. In this article, four Nigerian women […]

Nigerian female lawyers
June 9, 2021

This week is one of those times where we, as a country, wonder if the constitution is simply a suggestion. Many lawyers have complained of studying and practising law in a lawless state. Like with most issues, women’s experiences take a unique form. In this article, nine Nigerian female lawyers talk about practising law in […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X