The only permanent thing in life is change , so goes a popular saying and the change has come! We must embraced it, but also we must understand that there are dynamics of this change. Bus Rapid Transportation brought change to a chaotic Lagos transportation sector. Manned by rascals, urchins and hooligans in the name of agbaero. These ubiquitous agbearo whose election is always nightmarish and petrifying has been relegated to the bus stops and garages in some obscure parts of the city. Though, the BRT has come to stay in Lagos , just like it is in other world metropolis, the question is : are Lagosians ready for this change ? Is this change coming with a cost? These are things that citizens must ask and embrace.
Writing this report from the newly commissioned terminal at TBS square ,with John Legend music playing quietly at the background after buying a ticket from the kiosk, a fare cry from what was applicable in the days of yore, the days of locust and almost never going,still existing and never dying molue, most importantly far from the agbearo and the shouting conductors. I can at least write this from my tablet , with nobody to harass me with “owo da” terms and “bolee” stuff. This is teleporting me from Lagos to what is applicable in Johannesburg. According to co passenger whom I engaged in my trip from Island to Mainland, Femi Ojo said, the blue BRT is a game changer with air conditioned buses and courteous ticketers, I noticed that the drivers are careful when driving, this is evident in their buses with little scratches” he concluded .
In a fast paced world and a fast moving city like Lagos, where everybody is on the move.BRT has come to make Lagos citizens learn the hard way of queueing and this is a “new cool” and must get used to it. Though, not yet time bade bye bye to the running and chasing of buses. The chase is one thing an average Lagosian is used to. For those of us that don’t understand the concept of “chasing ” and “jumping” chasing is an act that must be mastered once you are in Lagos , you must chase a bus to board it. You run towards the bus and jump into, especially the molue so is jumping. They work on the concept of “no time”. An act that must w mastered if you must meet up with that appointment.
For now , we can “praise” for the blue buses but, what about their counterpart or cousins ? The red and the yellow buses are some kind of nightmare and still is, for some decent folks. A nightmare for same people or for decent ladies that have a big backside. Oh yes, the ladies that have a big backside,which is one common thing with our women and that is an evidence of a well evolved Lagos lady. The “ikebe” must be there and this ikebe can be asset in the courtship business but not in the commuting business for various reasons which we will explain.
Somewhere in the Eastern part of the country ,there is a saying that goes like this ” the woman with the fat backside wouldn’t appreciate the enormity of the punishment that the gods has beqeathed on her, until there is a stampede in the square”. This sayings comes to bare when you come to a place like Lagos where transportation used to be a dog eat dog situation and it is to some extent in some places. The yellow buses or molue can be nightmarish especially to this set of people ; the big backside women and physically challenged . A concept that the new BRT has taken into consideration. Back to the big back woman and how the new BRT has come to her rescue. This set of woman is a typical example of what an African woman should look like and what many men desire,even if we don’t admit it publicly,but in our privates…We ogle and fantasize about that woman. BEST has finally rescued her from the dilemma.
For those of us that don’t understand the Dynamics of Lagos. There is what is called “the chase”. This is a situation where intending passengers will chase an ongoing bus to board. You will see how disadvantaged the aforementioned woman is. She can’t do the chase, the gravitational pull will hinder that movement and this will be burdensome. Now , after the chase and eventually, the woman makes it to the bus, then most of the passengers must have seated. She has no option than to hang, a term for standing. This was aptly captured by Fela Kuti, the legendary afrobeat maestro , he called it “99 standing and 39 sitting” . She must stand and sandwiched by others. This is her plight and plight of most ladies. Sandwiched like a Japanese tuna fish awaiting for export. The bus driver doesn’t care about speed limit or decorum. He drives in a way that will make a grand Prix driver green with envy. He applies brake forcefully ,they don’t have their own lanes like the BRT,remember, so they have other drivers to contend with, the danfos, he furewars( the smugglers ) then the bike. This break he matches will make the manstanding behind the fat back woman crash behind her. This crash can either lead to quarrel or smile. The crash is always used by his groins to land. The reaction of the woman depends on the crash and her availability. Though, a source of either perversion or attraction. Crashes like these always occur and reactions are anticipated. But, with the introduction of blue BRT , these things are limited but still exist.
Though, it’s not yet all smooth sailing for the BRT, there are lapses in the system, non availability of buses on some crucial routes and also obnoxious tendency of ticketers,especially at the Ojota axis. Unlike developed cities like London, Madrid or even Pretoria, a bus ticket will be used for a whole day trip . One don’t need to questions every minute to get ticket,thereby wasting man hours. The administrators and managers of transport scheme must decide a way where people can use a one ticket to travel around, rather than queuing endlessly to wait for tickets and bus that are few. More than 1 million people are been transported daily in Lagos using he scheme. The Lagos State government has to device a means to eradicate the molue buses and danfo, this will make Lagos be amongst the league of modern cities. The administrators of the scheme must find a way to ensure that the tickets can either be bought online or have a way to make passengers (those that wish ) to buy their one off ticket for a week. According to a commuter, Ngozi Ibeneme ” I totally love the concept of BRT, with their clean air conditioned buses ,one gets to her destination in one piece. But,the problem is the queuing long time hours to get the ticket and also the scarcity of buses in some routes”, she remarked.
The traffic mayhem and stress of driving daily in Lagos is enough to shorten ones lifespan or that of a car. We all want to leave our cars at home and jump into the BRT as it is done in other climes. We hope the BRT scheme must be sustained ,a sustained scheme will definitely put the molue out of business, not by executive fiat but economics such as opportunity cost. Let me enjoy the co passenger surf the Internet in his HP laptop. A new dawn in transportation beckons.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu