Traffic

Innuendos if personified are like politicians; they all say the same things but have different meanings. They flirt with insults and court mischief, for a simple weather forecast can also be the itinerary for Boko-Haram.

Life in Nigeria is like traffic, the lanes, the varied speeds, the right lane and the slow one, the junction and the intersection, all blended to make progression seem continuous. For the essence of the road is the destination. Traffic in my beloved country has an added attribute of stagnancy, the fluid motion of carriage ways is sometimes lacking in this Giant of Africa. Especially when there is a storm, for waterways and roads share responsibilities of drainage. In life the right lane is important, we have to envisage the next turn and promptly stick to the appropriate lane – so if there is a vehicle in front of you that seems to have broken down, you need to manoeuvre past it…quickly. Some lanes have markings on it for aided navigation and others just require common sense. There are also dual carriage ways, where traffic opposes itself but on secluded lanes. Switching lanes is allowed as long as there is some notification prior to which, overtaking is allowed as long as it if safe to do so. But like in life there are marauders, those that switch lanes randomly, insensitively- they edge their way into every opportunity seemingly without consequence. They are usually commercial vehicle operators and have no formal (driving) training/skill save for the innate harshness in their voice when calling for passengers. They are the ‘business’ men and ‘contractors’ of our day, the ones that have multiple cards that describe their services as ‘general merchant’, they have no lanes for they have all the lanes( GRA boys – General Running Around). The ones who scale the school fence and fail the subject that is the language they are taught in, but find a way through traffic and end up married to a president are those that came off the road at some point, used the pavement with two tyres on the sidewalk and the other two on the road, but re-join the lanes via a docile educated and otherwise shoeless administrator.

Then there are pot holes, road patches and ever so often the improvised speed breakers. Canyons and crevices, mud and granite, all add to the compost of the ever famous and patriotic “go-slow”

There are those who choose the best lanes, stay there, those who stick to speed limits and follow diversions, those that actually wait at the red light at 2am in the morning on Ozumba. Blessed are those ones for they are true patriots. They represent the percentage that makes our hypocrisy plausible, for they are out there; they indicate at every turn and cheque at every ATM, they even say thank you to the street hawker. Lanes aren’t the only things that matter, your speed determined by the power of your engine is a factor too, for the race is not only for the swift but surely for the powerful. Power that is embedded only in the mind, for we are our own vice, our own weakness and eventually our own demise, ironically we clamour for our own destruction in ways akin to a virus. For change not lanes without indication or overtake on the right, move at speeds that would aggravate your fellow road user and intimidate with size. Basically PDP!

There are times when the fast lane becomes the burden, when the middle lane seems to move quickest, there are street hawkers peddling (lies) various utilities and road traffic controllers struggling to add order to chaos, we are only passengers on this ride with one common factor – our destinations. Sometimes the fast lane is the one with burden and all too soon there is a need to slow down and watch as vehicles pass you by, it is a feeling of stagnancy especially when you are in a Porsche. When pedestrians are envied for they move, when engines overheat in the night and robbers stroll through with their loot. Traffic here is somewhat of an encounter, three wheelers are jostling for equal rights as cars, while trucks have the final say with their soot and hooters.

Driving here requires a couple of things; a vehicle with proper ground clearance, a loud annoying horn, a functional air conditioning system, good music and a gifted sense of humour.

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