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Friday, February 2, 2007

Driving rules in Lagos

Lagos is often acclaimed as the most exciting city in Nigeria in which to drive. Who would argue? For those of you who think that driving in London or NY is stressful, herewith, for newcomers and visitors, are a few basic rules of the road for driving in Las Gidi:

First of all, know the battalion to which you belong. There is an unending and vicious road war in Lagos. In the first battalion, are motorcyclists known in Nigerian as okada. They have a pact with suicide avoid them at all costs.

In the second battalion are commercial bus drivers. Their buses are known by various names including - danfo, molue (literally translated "I will beat you"), bolekaja (means "Come down, let us fight), kabu-kabu, etc. As these names imply, they are not the smartest species on the face of the planet. Avoid them. What a bitter experience? I don't want to cry again. I almost did 2 days ago!

In the third battalion are the "guys of the siren": escort riders, Bullion vans, trailers, etc. They have immunity against death. Besides, they get a medal for every scratch, and a certificate of bravery for every bash. No need to tell you to stay clear of them. The Men in black even with empty bullion van, I am not making empty threats, be guided!

In the fourth battalion are private guys like me. All we have at our disposal are big talk and empty threats - we have no rights. Sometimes we employ what is called "ogboju"(bravado) to get by. Due to frustration of being home late or at work. We are a pound in flesh in getting our ways in traffic too. What a mess! There are no gentlemen again in Lag?

Further rules:

1. When in doubt, accelerate.
2. Never drive behind a person whose head doesn't reach the top of the steering wheel.
3. Danfo drivers believe they are immortal. Don't yield to the temptation to teach them otherwise
4. Taxicabs should always have the right of way, unless you are bent on suicide.
5. Get used to okada riders saying things like: "Komot ya skrap fo rod" (Get your jalopy off the road), "Oga u wan mek ai dryv ya moto?" (Do you want me to drive your car?). It is normal, and we just ignore them. These days okadas are heavy duty machines too because they carry multiple passengers. Husband and wife. I believe They don't complain of overload as long as the woman is in the middle.
6. Never, ever, stop for a pedestrian unless he flings himself under the wheels of your car.
7. The first parking space you see will be the last parking space you see. Grab it. Survival of the fittest u may say!
8. Learn to swerve abruptly. In Lagos, potholes (and sometimes car-holes) are put in key locations to test drivers' reflexes and keep them on their toes. I saw one man fishing in one of the potholes, that tells u how deep it is.
9. There is no such thing as "one-way"in Lagos. Expect traffic from any direction at all times.
10. Never get in the way of a car that needs extensive bodywork.
11. There is no such thing as a short-cut during rush-hour traffic in Lagos. Everybody might be inclined to take that 'short-cut'.
12. It is traditional in Lagos to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant their bumpers are not touching the next car.
13. When asking for directions, always ask at least 3 people. Lagosians claim to know every inch of the city - even areas they've never been.
14. Use extreme caution when pulling into service lanes. Service lanes are not for breaking down the traffic, but for speeding, especially during rush hour.
15. Never use directional signals, since they only confound and distract other Lagos drivers, who are not used to them.
16. Similarly, never attempt to give hand signals. Lagos drivers, unused to such courtesies, will think you are making obscene gestures to them. This could be very bad for you in Lagos.
17. Hazard lights (popularly called "double pointer") is not, (as commonly supposed) used to indicate a hazard. It is a warning to you that he is a bonafide Lagos driver, he's headed 'straight' and as such, will not stop under any circumstance. Take him extremely seriously especially if he backs it up with a continuous blast from his "horn".
18. At any given time t, do not stand on the zebra crossing expecting traffic to yield to you, else you will have to explain to the on coming traffic whether you look like a zebra.
19. Speed limits are arbitrary figures posted only to make you feel guilty.
20. Remember that the goal of every driver is to get there first by whatever means necessary.
21. In Las Gidi every spot is potential bus stop. FRSC and LASTMA knows that too. It is in their constitution.
21. Above all, keep moving. Even with a flat tire.

Good luck, you'll need it!


Anonymous said...

LOL... the rules are hilarious, but oh so true... imagine how scared i get every time i go visit and the driver is driving in such a manner...

Nigeria community blog with more than 24 authors said...

Well it's a miracle to be alive in Lag not to mention of traffic!
If you can drive in Lag you can drive anywhere in the world. The worst past of it you don't need a driving license.

Hoping the next one will be bout solving the go-slows and hold-ups.

Nice post.

damsel said...

LOL... this is so fantastically funny and true!!!

יושה (Yosh) said...

hahaha, hilarious! Just came across this now