Just Another Day In Lagos Traffic

I stood at the bus-stop for nearly an hour.

Lekki.

Buses and taxis stopped and drove on.

After the conductors had called out.

“Obalende!”

“CMS!”

A few actually called out –

“Oshodi!”

I was heading for Freedom Park on Broad Street.

I had hoped to hear them call out.

“Race course!”

My plan was to get there and walk over to Freedom Park.

But none had called that out.

It was hot.

I was sweating.

Finally another bus slowed down in front of me.

“CMS!”

I stepped closer and spoke to the conductor.

“Would you stop at Racecourse?”

“Enter, hold your two hundred naira o, I no get change.”

I entered and sat down on the last seat behind.

Between two men.

Everyone was silent as the bus drove on.

It stopped at the next bus-stop – Marwa.

“CMS! Two hundred naira! I no get change o.”

A middle aged man wearing a dark suit, a sweat stained formerly white shirt and an ironed-until-it-shines black tie entered the bus.

He was on his phone and sat at the far edge on the last seat.

“… not at all. I will be there shortly. Of course. Yes. I am in Ikeja right now. Bank Anthony Way. Very close to Sheraton Hotel. Definitely I am a man of my words 12 is 12. Thank you sir. I will be with you soon.”

He hung up.

The conductor stretched his hand to him.

The man handed him a hundred naira note.

The conductor short him a look of disdain.

“No be two hundred I tell you?”

“I dey drop for sand field.”

“Na sand field I call?”

“I no fit pay two hundred for sand field.”

“Dat one mean say na die you wan die today be that?”

“Orpon two hundred naira na im you wan ki pesin?”

“Abeg gi mi my two hundred before I craze for you!”

“You think say na only you get craze. If you like no collect this one wen I dey give you. I go use am buy coke.”

“O boy no dey try me o. You carry coat wear. Na common two hundred naira you dey drag for hia. Pesin go dey think say you be better pesin.”

“Na you get your mouth.”

He put the money back in his wallet.

The conductor called out to the driver.

“Semiu e be like say dis man wan die inside your moto o!”

The driver called out.

“Oga abeg pay am the money. Fuel no dey. Na suffer we use buy the one wen we dey use find work so.”

“Dat one mean say una go kon increase am with a whole one hundred percent?”

“Bros na Buhari you suppose ask dat question. Abeg respect yourself pay ya money.”

“Na one hundred naira I get.”

The man stated in a dismissive tone as he picked up his phone once again and dialled.

“Semiu leave am. Shebi na inside dis moto e dey. We go see how e go comot if e no drop the money.”

“Make we reach sandfield first. If you no drop me. You go know say some crazeman dey wear suit for this Lagos.”

The conductor laughed. It was sardonic and angry.

The bus kept moving towards the toll gate.

There was virtually no build up of traffic.

I was relieved.

The man began speaking on his phone again.

“Sorry sir. I am in very terrible traffic. Yes sir. Very bad. The whole road is blocked from country club, past police college, towards LASUTH. Yes sir…”

The conductor turned back and leaned towards him.

“Oga. Na lie e dey talk o. Na toll gate for Victoria Island we dey. E no even wan pay im two hundred naira…”

The man abruptly cut the call.

He was enraged.

“Dem swear for you!”

“You never see something. i go show you say no matter how fish form levels reach, e no fit use fisherman hook use do necklace.”

The man looked towards all the other passengers.

“See this conductor.”

We were all quiet.

Some looked at him with vacant eyes. Some stared out the windows. Some stared at their phones.

He looked back at the conductor.

“Na only God go save you today if im hear wetin you talk.”

He started to call again.

“Hello sir. Sorry it was bad network. No. Still in the traffic…”

“We no dey traffic sir. Na Oriental Hotel for VI we just pass.”

He cut the phone again.

“What is wrong with you?!”

He said it in a disbelieving whisper.

“You never see madness. You don buy market today. Sandfield!”

No one answered at first.

Then the man who was on the phone finally called out as we drove closer to the bus – stop.

“Sandfield wa.”

“Driver go on soun. Law School.”

“You dey craze. I say sandfield dey.”

“Semiu e be like say you get mosquito for your moto o.”

The driver laughed.

We drove past the bus stop.

The man began shouting himself into a fit.

The bus moved on.

Bus-stops came and went.

People dropped off and got in.

And each time the man attempted to get out.

A scuffle broke out between him and the conductor.

Finally people in the bus began pleading with the conductor and with the man.

None of them gave in.

And we crossed the bridge into the Lagos Island from Bonny Camp.

I watched as the bus approached the road beside Onikan Stadium, expecting it to take the road and make the right turn towards Racecourse.

Instead it climbed the bridge.

Alarmed.

I called out to the conductor.

“Racecourse wa.”

He turned to me.

His eyes were red from all the scuffles and verbal combat with the man, who was now panting beside me in submission.

“You hear me call racecourse for you wen you enter ma moto?”

His words came out in a snarl.

The heaves of heavy breath that followed were a definite dare.

I remained silent.

And rode the bus to CMS on top of the bridge.

Where the conductor summarily seized the man’s phone as he attempted to place a call inside the bus as we all alighted.

It was a further distance than it would have been from racecourse for me.

I had no choice.

So I left the man who was now pleading for his phone as he sat remorsefully inside the bus.

The conductor stood guard at the door.

Demanding five hundred naira.

Two hundred naira for the bus fare and three hundred for the alabukun he needs to take for the body aches he was feeling after all the struggle with the man.

I walked through the mid-day heat to Freedom Park.

And arrived twenty eight minutes late.

Lagos.

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