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December 5, 2021 8:58 am

Nigeria Traffic Faux Pas – Genuine Or Lack Of Discipline

Seated and chauffer driven (it could be fun sometimes you know) on a hot Thursday afternoon. As we approached a traffic light, I took a look at the speed at which the driver was approaching the junction and I was wondering what was in his mind. Remarkably, he managed to maneuver the car and stopped behind an Audi wagon car (I just resisted to add the station as we used to do back in the day – station wagon).

But inexplicably, another motorist drove viciously behind us, swerved to the next lane as if doing an 007 and made his way to the junction. A screech and a collision left the car and its prey in a heap. And of course blood flowed.

Where was he rushing to? What was in his mind? Was he not aware of the traffic light? These were some of the questions that begged for answers.

I crawled back into my position as if I have been stung by a bee. My mind started to wander.

Not quite long ago, I took a trip to Benin from Lagos by road after I got a rude shock that the flight I had booked for 12noon was rescheduled for 4.30pm. I made a quick calculation. I needed to be in Benin by 1pm latest and if the flight is 4.30pm, it means Benin will only see me at about 6.00pm. What happens to my meeting? Hey, there is still road to Benin. It has not been overgrown by weeds I assured myself and made a dash to catch a Sienna bus at the bus garage. About 30 minutes drive after Shagamu, all hell was let loose. There was traffic on both sides of the road. I mean each lane was now taking both incoming and outgoing! Before we could do 10 minutes, we met a complete gridlock. There was no movement.

Who will save us from this problem? Side comments started to filter in from some of the trapped distressed travelers. ‘How do we get out of this…? And there is no Road Safety around”, they said as if it was Road Safety that put us in the avoidable situation in the first place. We crawled all the way to Ore with the insanity. It was an accident somewhere at Ore. Motorists therefore took liberty to do double traffic often called one way. Reason: Everybody wanted to be the smartest and drive ahead of others and decides to move to any available lane even if it is not his legal access.

I got to Benin that day by 5.30pm. So did everybody that was trapped in that recklessness. Yes, there was an accident that half blocked the road and traffic is being controlled at the scene. If motorists had turned into their legitimate lane as soon as they pass the scene, the problem would not have been magnified.

I also wandered back into Lagos. Often traffic gridlocks bring the city or parts of it to standstill. Most often they are occasioned by the so called one way traffic driving. Often the Lagos drivers do the one way driving either because they see unexpected traffic or want to beat it or the road they are travelling have some serious pot holes. At the end, more harm is caused. Peopled are trapped in a traffic. Business transactions are messed up.

A friend told me a story. He was being driven on the street of Johannesburg at about 12.30am by a friend who is a South African. They got to a lonely lone like the third mainland bridge and lo there was a junction and a traffic light. His friend stopped and he wondered why this stupid man was stopping in the middle of the night on a lonely road. His mind did a lightening flashback and re remembered how he will beat a traffic light ay 1004 junction even at 9pm not to talk of 12.30am. ‘Go now, why are you stopping?’ he charged his friend. ‘The Robot is ON’ his friend replied. He was jolted and was filled with shame.

It is a tragedy for us to even display our dirty linen outside our shores. Why would our roads suffer because of our indiscretion? Yes there are accidents that could cause traffic diversion. Yes there could be pot holes that may make our cars bubble a little bit. There are some normal traffic movement that could be annoying. But are these legal and genuine reasons for some motorists to present themselves as an obstacle to others.

I think this more or less is a good sign of indiscipline which have already been institutionalized as a culture amongst Nigerians. My Johannesburg traffic breaking friend is an example of this terrible culture. It is one of the sad stories of our society that needs to be visited. If we are not disciplined in little things, how do we show discipline in big things? Could that be why the country is still battling with her development?


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