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Miss Yinx: How to Survive Lagos Traffic

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I love Lagos!
It is the city of hustling, the city of high spirits, the no-nonsense city. I love the sights and sounds! There is so much to see, hear and absorb; the constant noise, the shrewd traders, the festive parties, the carnivals, the sunny beaches, the bridges, the colourful markets, the food, the drinks, the music and the millions of people of different tribes and nationalities. Even when you breathe, you inhale Lagos. The aroma of roasting corn , fish & plantain, the bubbling soups from the bukas, the spices from  sizzling suya, the stench of the stagnant gutters and the choking fumes from the “Okadas” and “Danfos”.

For a stranger, the eccentrics of Lagos might be overwhelming but for the average Lagosian, it’s all part of the daily experience that we miss when we are away. If there’s anything I hate about Lagos, it is the traffic! I hate Lagos traffic. The crazy danfo drivers, the suicidal okadas, the street vendors, the floods, the portholes and  even the over-zealous traffic management officials all add up  to create a frustrating scenario in our beloved city. To survive in Lagos, we have all had to learn to cope with the traffic and create our own alternatives such as the following:

Ditch Your Car
As inconvenient as this may sound, it is sometimes a life-saver. Remember that you cannot leave your car in the middle of the road no matter how bad the traffic is; but if push comes to shove you can disregard your Lagos big girl status, take off your stilettos, jump out of the taxi (or danfo) and start walking to you destination. You can also use the BRT/LAGBUS buses which have their own dedicated lanes and are likely to get you to your destination faster. Also consider the Lagos Ferry service if there’s any along your route. I hear they are quite safe and efficient

Car Pool
You may want to deny this but you are part of the cause of the problem. Yes, you! You drive to your office; your husband drives to his own office in the same direction, your neighbours too. Why not all go in the same vehicle? You can take turns driving and paying for petrol if you want. This way you can socialize on the go and save loads of petrol and road space.

Monitor Traffic on Social Media
These days a couple of Twitter handles give authentic traffic updates from time to time. With these updates you are able to plan your journey before you set out. Even radio stations give regular traffic reports. If you use a Blackberry, you can also give your friends and colleagues updates via BBM. However, remember to include the date and time so that old messages are not recycled.

Keep Your Vehicle in Shape
A broken-down vehicle could cause a more serious traffic jam than you can imagine. Always check your tyres, fan belt, engine oil and radiator before you take your car out. For cars older than a year, it is essential to scan the engine and electrical parts for impending but preventable faults. These days auto-mobile diagnostic services are more affordable and available, so we have no excuse. Some GSM network providers also offer car-troubleshooting SMS services that could come in handy. Also consider that your car may be towed away by LASTMA if it breaks down on a major road and you might have to pay to get it back. Double wahala!

Have a Snack Handy
It pays to have a snack and a little drink (I didn’t say alcohol o) in your handbag or man-bag or whatever you carry your stuff in.  Although, I’ve realized that street hawkers tend to spring up wherever and whenever traffic congestion is heavy. Most times, they have bottled water, canned drinks, biscuits, sausage rolls, plantain chips, fruits, sweets and chewing gum. I am sure you can survive on one or more of these. Unfortunately for you Aje-butters, there’s no Chinese cuisine in traffic yet, unless you like those tasteless corn chips thingies.

Radio, Music or Audiobooks
It’s a good idea to occupy your mind with something positive while in traffic. This way the time spent in traffic is not totally wasted and you don’t feel so much mental stress. Good music will soothe you and you can learn from radio shows or audiobooks. You may want to watch TV/DVD if you are lucky to have one in the car, but I personally find this distracting.

Wind Up
Safety is key. Please try to keep you windows up, especially at night. It is very easy to be robbed of your phones, cash and jewelry in traffic. Even if your air-conditioning does not work, wind up and leave just a little crack such that hands or weapons cannot fit in. It is better to sweat for some minutes (sometimes hours) than to lose your Effizy phone and bling, hard-earned money or even your life. Plus, keep your valuables out of view.

Be Calm
Road rage won’t help you. Aggressive driving will more often than not, lead to scratches and dents or worse accidents, then you waste all the time you were trying to save. Just breathe in and breathe out. Patience is very necessary.

Avoid The Rush-Hour
This is quite difficult especially when you are not self-employed. Most offices resume at 8am.  God help you, if you do the daily Mainland-Island runs like me. Some people also intentionally stay back at work until ungodly hours when the traffic has subsided. I don’t advice night-crawling on a daily basis, though. It is not safe especially with all the recent news about kidnapping.

Traffic congestion is characteristic of most large cities, the Lagos Mega-City being no exception. However, Lagos traffic has its peculiarities. Always leave a reasonable time gap for your journeys. Lagos traffic (some call it go-slow) and punctuality hardly appear in the same sentence. It is wise to obey traffic rules in Lagos city as obedience will save you a lot of explanation, time and money. It will also save you trips to the psychiatric hospital!

Thank me later.

Photo Credit: 123rf.com

Yinka Ademola is an aspiring author, a wife, a government employee and a soon-to-be mother. She enjoys cooking and sharing recipes. She likes to discuss issues that affect day-to-day life ,although in a lighthearted manner. One of her ultimate goals is to make Nigeria a safer and cleaner place. She firmly believes that women can excel both in the workplace and at home building. Yinka's favourite place is the beach and she enjoys travelling locally and internationally.

30 Comments

  1. Troll

    February 27, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Lagos this, Lagos that…like every goddamn person lives in Lagos. Mtscheww

    • Al Blossom

      February 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      I HOPE YOU DON’T CHOKE ON YOUR BILE.

    • Troll

      February 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      *chokes on bile* Oh! Somebody give me water or hit my back, I’m choking on BILE! 😛

    • memebaby

      February 28, 2014 at 4:14 am

      sistehhh.. I just quickly scrolled up..I don tear shirt vexxxx!!! is lagos the only city in Nigeria!! c’mon fam.. bella naija needs to expand and look at other cities too! as an edo ghel, I’m sure there’s something happening in my city ( i doubt sha lol ). but you get my point.. Nigeria ≠ Lagos!!

  2. Blessmyheart

    February 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Good tips. I try to carpool when possible, I avoid driving as much as I can but I’d rather drive than take public transport. I detest buses whether BRT or danfo. And I can’t afford daily cab fare so it’s better to drive. When you hear the horrors of taking buses you’ll realise that driving in Lagos is not a luxury.

    • lilz

      February 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      yes o my sister or brother driving in lagos is not a luxury

  3. Miss_Flygerian

    February 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I have never seen worse traffics than the ones that occur daily on Ikorodu Road (Ikorodu to Ketu/Mile 12) and Volks-Barracks (Mile 2-Badagry expressway). If you ever jam these two, I swear you go fear God that day. No amount of survival tips can make the life considerably easier.

    • Miss Anonymous

      February 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      You should add Lagos/Ibadan expressway traffic to that list.

    • Miss Bee

      March 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      AMEN to that!!!

  4. Michael

    February 27, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Lagos,City of hustling,city of high spirit and no nonsense city.I love that. EKOO ONI BAJE

  5. Teni

    February 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    There are laws against eating in traffic o, apart from that tough all other tips are on point. Coolfm, nigeria info are quite entertaining and they keep me informed as well.

  6. Fashionista

    February 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Na, I don’t miss none of that when I’m away. if anything, I dread having to come back. You are however spot on about keeping your car in shape, having a snack handy, playing music and keeping calm. Although I ALWAYS fail at keeping calm oh, I have the worst road rage ever recorded in history! I even have road rage when im in the passenger’s seat, that’s how bad I am.

    • whocares

      February 27, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      LMAO. I think people who exhibit road rage are the most amusing people EVER! The insults they come up with at that point are always so creative. They may be the most placid people in the world, but when you put them in a car they are something else…

  7. Michael

    February 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    @FASHIONATE. Sorry “Lagosians” doesn’t even know that u are existing ,Are u going to live there forever? Because you know that u don’t belong there.Lagos is too noisy,over populated,conjested,full Of portholes,traffics e.t.c we still enjoy and catch our fun in lagos.Stay your abroad and live us alone habaa!!!!

    • Anne

      February 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Go and learn how to construct a proper sentence before you attempt to make a comment again. My advice.

    • Fashionista

      February 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Are you okay at all??? First of all, get my name right, it is FASHIONISTA and NOT Fashionate! and second of all, where in my comment did I state that I live abroad. Don’t people go away on vacation or business trips etc?. I maintain my point, I DO NOT miss stinking gutters amongst other things when im away.

  8. Michael

    February 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Sorry,I [email protected] Fashionista.

  9. pynk

    February 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Lol at not having road rage. Once you get behind the wheel in lagos, the rage starts.

  10. @edDREAMZ

    February 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Am not in lagos so i dont see the need….. Those people in lagos myt learn something great frm it though…..
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

    • AA

      February 27, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      It was not targeted at you anyway, but at people in Lagos, so your comment is unnecessary

  11. Zayt

    February 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Totally agree esp @ car pool. Haven’t driven in a week and it feels soo good.

  12. Berry Dakara

    February 27, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I wish I could find people to carpool with 🙁

  13. Michael

    February 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Ok.i misunderstood u before.

  14. CarliforniaBawlar

    February 28, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Two words:
    Gala & FanYogo

    • Eve82

      February 28, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Girl you are on m team. Add Lacasera to it too 🙂

  15. Pade

    February 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Car Pooling is not popular in this part of the world. My colleagues don’t even understand the meaning of the word . I also do not encourage it in the type of job I do, cos I can’t imagine people gossiping about other colleagues in my car and I will not get upset.
    You’re right on all points esp you having something entertaining like the radio on, it takes away the road rage.

  16. Adesh

    May 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Has Fashola unbanned eating while driving?

    • Yinka Ademola

      May 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Eating while driving is an offence. But… you are not actually driving while you are stuck in traffic.

  17. Remi

    May 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Coolie! Tnks yinx….•”safety is key” u dnt want to miss that point if u reside in lagos,”the city of hustlers”the touts are not smiling…..I have increased appetite whenever am in traffic, lol• (•͡.̮ ~͡)

  18. duchess

    May 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Nice one yinka – well done

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