I have to admit – I didn’t have a plan when I sped off and left the traffic warden eating my dust (and pocketing my driver’s licence too). I was close to my parent’s house so I drove in and parked my car there. At least the car would be safe from impounding, I thought. But that didn’t stop me from looking at my rear view mirror every five seconds for a police bike on my tail. I met only my sister at home and broke the news (okay, that sounded kinda dramatic – to break news usually sounds like one is about to announce something tragic. I digress). My lil’ sister was in shock to say the least, like she had seen a ghost that was equally shocked that I had driven off without my licence. My explanation still left my sister’s jaw on the floor. She went straight into DLR (Driver’s Licence Retrieval) mode and ran some suggestions by me.
After deliberating for a couple of minutes I even went further to call a friend whom I thought would be able to advise me on what to do, based on his own experiences. He told me to prepare to give ‘something small’. We were ready to put the plan into action. We set out in my car but parked it in a corner about 300 meters away from the traffic warden’s spot. We strolled down towards the junction where the incident happened and then I told my sister to wait behind while I approached the traffic warden who was in the midst of a policeman and some LASTMA officials (the boys in black yellow). I caught his attention and he came over to deafen me with his broken English (insert action film music here).
‘Why you run na?’ he said with a smirk in his sweaty face.
‘I don’t want to argue. I just want my licence.’
‘No problem. I have already taken it to the station. You can collect it there.’, and he turned away with his nose up in the air.
‘What?’, I couldn’t contain my annoyance.
‘But oga, you suppose bring sumtin.’
‘Bring what? Look, you don’t want to me drag this matter’. I flashed a special ID card to him at this point. ‘I’ll go to the station and collect my licence’. I started to walk away and then he called me.
‘Oga wait. Make we go one side’. We walked a few meters away from his colleagues and got to way my sister was waiting. My sister greeted him and he reciprocated. They exchanged a few ‘pleasantries’ while I frowned (but they didn’t seem to take notice). The traffic warden insisted again that I should bring something (just like my friend said earlier) and that he would get my driver’s licence back for me. With about an hour of my life already wasted I just decided to part with N1,000 (less than $3) and to my surprise he pulled out my driver’s licence! To think that he lied and never actually went to drop it at the station in the first place. And worse still he asked for a bribe which I was forced to heed in order to get my licence….aaaargh! But the ID card sure got him rattled.
My sister and I walked back to my car and drove back home to gist about the whole ordeal. After that incident no one had to tell me to make a photocopy of my licence – that’s what I’ll be offering any official that accosts me on the road. At least that way I can drive off without ever looking back:)
Whilst you move around on the Nigerian roads you need to be cautious about your surroundings. It is unfortunate that there are touts who like to parade around high-traffic areas where road congestion is frequent. If you are in a car, albeit the driver or passenger, ensure that you lock your car doors before you set off for your journey, and every time you get back into the car during the day. There have been past reports of hoodlums attempting to open car doors and carrying out robberies.
Always keep your windows wound up closed. I have a friend who kept her window only 2- inches down in a traffic-jam at night, when suddenly a thief forced his arm through the space and snatched her necklace. Endeavour to use the AC (Air Conditioning) in order to seal up your car as much as possible.
At night, do not follow shortcuts or ‘back routes’ which are hidden away from the general public. These could be potential hideout spots for rogues and armed-robbers. Only use such shortcuts in the daytime or when there are other cars using it when you are, preferably before dark.
As much as possible stay in your car at all times until you get to your destination – sounds easy enough, right? What if one night on the road you spotted a broken down vehicle up ahead with a woman seeming stranded and you decided to be a Good Samaritan? There have been cases of staged breakdowns used as an ambush for well-to-do motorists. Nowadays the LASTMA force is on stand by on major roads to assist or tow such broken down vehicles. I am not saying we shouldn’t come to the aid of stranded motorists. It could happen to you too but this is what I’d expect you to do:
Call for a friend’s assistance using your mobile phone (which is a must in case of emergencies) and if he/she is on his/her way then you lock yourself up in the car and sit tight till the cavalry arrive. Alternatively you can lock up the car and, so long as you’ve parked well off the road, take public transport to get assistance. Be careful when being approached by eager pedestrians who suddenly appear from nowhere to help. Keep your valuables (wallet, purse, watch, etc) in your glove compartment and lock your car up first. If you see that where you’re stranded has human-traffic then you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Never find yourself out late, alone and without a (fully-charged) mobile phone – ‘tis a deadly medley.
Yesterday I dont know what came over me. I was driving back from work late about 8pm when this massive commercial bus started blaring its horn behind me. There was no room in front of me, I wasn’t slowing down, and I sure as hell wasn’t stopping the driver from overtaking me. This nuisance continued for a good 5mins. I was getting attention I did not want. I felt humiliated. I felt like every other driver was laughing at me. I had enough…
I swerved off the middle lane and stayed on the lefthand side, allowing the impatient bufoon to pass by – and that’s when my MOM (Moment Of Madness) paid an unexpected visit. I swerved back into the middle lane behind the bus and guess what I did next 😀
BEEP! BEEP! BEEEEEEP! BEP BEP BEEEEEEEEEEP….BEEP….BEEP….BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The bus driver started attempting to get off the lane. I started chasing him – I don’t know what the hell for though. Other drivers were grinning as I beeped a ‘happy-birthday-to-you’ sounding tune – I had to stop halfway though cos I realized I could have been endangering the passengers on the bus, not to mention, myself!
This isn’t me, I thought. I was a victim of road rage and this time I took it a lil too far. Note to self – no more Red bulls before driving…even if it was intended to stop me from dozing off in traffic.