It seems like it was all a dream when Third Mainland Bridge was partially closed for urgent repairs for over a month (the tremors were becoming worrisome), thereby disrupting the regular movement of motorists commuting between Lagos mainland and Lagos island. Being a victim myself, I was forced to learn some new dodgy shortcuts (in areas where you wouldn’t dare go without having your mummy hold your hand). But on November 6th the bridge was reopened and to my bewilderment…there was more traffic than ever before. Where in bloody hell did more cars come from? Were motorists anxious to test if the bridge could withstand the weight of all the cars in Lagos during rush hour?
It all starts when you start to slow down as you approach the bridge (from Lagos island) and you see the trail of red rear lights, which I sometimes wonder have not succeeded in confusing pilots approaching Lagos. Once you’ve joined the queue you’re faced with the barrage of hawkers trying to sell off what I call ‘necessity goods’ – goods that we can’t live without and won’t likely cut back on even when times are tough (Wikipedia). Choices are fairly limited on the bridge though; you have Sausage rolls (Gala, Superbite, Bigi and Rite brands), Coconut Chips, Plantain chips, Popcorn with peanuts, and Rat poison.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘Did the crazy Nigerian make a typo? Everything else on that list is edible except rat poison!’ Well, I was asking myself the same damn thing as I tucked into my dry Gala sausage roll at around 8pm in traffic. Why are so many hawkers selling rat poison in Lagos these days? Has the ‘rodent problem’ reached alarming levels? One hawker selling such walked past a number of cars and paused at my car. I turned to him with my window fully wound up and then I wondered, ‘Is there anything about my car or facial expression that suggests I would need to buy rat poison?’ ‘Why is he still standing here?’ Besides, I’m yet to see any motorist actually buy one off the road. Just imagine you’ve got rats at home and you finally see a hawker on the bridge selling a guaranteed rat killer. You honk for the hawker and as you negotiate and pick a pack, you hear someone shout out your name in the next lane and the following conversation ensues:
Friend – ‘Hey (insert your name here)!’
You – Oh, how’s it going?
Friend – This traffic is hell. So you’ve got rats, huh…
You – (Awkward silence then a lie) I’m just buying this for my neighbour
Anyway, you’ve gotten halfway down the bridge and your pastry-laced throat yearns for a chilled refreshing drink. You start to look out for the hawkers selling drinks. They’ve got an assortment of Bottled water, LaCasera (Sparking apple drink), Malt, Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Bitter Lemon, Energy drinks, Smirnoff and Lager cans. Again, I can hear the voice of reason in YOUR mind going, ‘Is he seriously saying that alcohol is sold to motorists?!!!’.
The answer is YES! The worst part is the slow pace of the traffic gives the drinker ample time to let the alcohol course through his/her veins before jetting off at the end of the bridge into a possible head-on collision with a lamppost. I don’t know what the government is doing but I hope Lagos motorists are sensible enough NOT to buy such, even if they want to get to an early start on a Friday night. I also hope the government would do something about the influx of sometimes inferior secondhand vehicles that often break down on the bridge, adding to the dismay of motorists.
I’ve lost a lot of time on the bridge. Everyday I spend between one to two hours in traffic and this is time I could have used watching tv, writing a blog, reading a book, having dinner with a friend, working from home, catching up with the family…and learning how to use ‘Kill & Dry’ Rat Poison 🙂
Disclaimer: No rats were tortured or killed in the making of this blog post (that was afterwards, lol – just kidding!!!)