• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Coping with bullies on Lagos roads

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Lagosians are very familiar with the intimidating attitude of commercial drivers and conductors. Often, yelling, insulting and talking rudely to passengers are some common experiences which commuters face on a daily basis but more than these, the attitude of touts who claim to be working for government is worse.

For the past few years that I have stayed in Lagos, I have studied the attitude of commercial drivers and conductors towards passengers, in some cases I have been intimidated by them, I remember the first time I travelled from Ilorin to Lagos on my own, when I got to Ojota, I boarded a bus going to Oshodi, at this time I was not familiar with Oshodi bus stops.

I wasn’t sure where to alight for another bus going to Jakande, but when the driver got to Oshodi after bridge I decided to alight, on telling the conductor he mumbled and grumbled words I didn’t understand, the driver refused to stop the bus and the only way I wouldn’t miss my stop was to jump while the bus was still moving! Thank God my bag wasn’t too heavy and the bus was not on high speed.

This was my first experience with such behaviour as Kwara presents a more civic environment. The saying that “Customers are Always Right” is not something drivers and conductors believe.

Sometimes I bring up this issue at home and with friends and their replies are always, “Ah! Conductors are very aggressive and rude” another would say “They usually wear an angry look”. Well I don’t blame them, doing the same thing every day and no change in daily routine can make one cranky.

Whenever I go out, my aunty usually advices that I should make sure I have change with me and if I don’t whenever I enter the bus, I should quickly gather the change from other passengers to avoid being insulted by the driver or conductor, she would warn that “if you don’t collect your change before you get to your destination, you might be refused your change, or tied in a “temporary marriage” as she calls it (This is the case whereby the conductor doesn’t have change and decides to merge passengers to sort out the change issue within themselves.)

Sometimes I wonder if such behaviour is a ‘must-have’ for all drivers and conductors, or it is a way of pouring out their anger of paying collectors out of the little they earn, which reminds me of another experience.

One evening I was going home from work, I boarded a bus from Cele Express to Jakande which is most times N100, but this time the driver insisted on N150, I had no choice because I didn’t want to get stranded in the holdup, one curious passenger asked “why is the fare N150 and not N100”, the driver said “it is because he would pass short cuts to avoid the holdup and collectors would request for money on the way”.

Commercial drivers are not the only road bullies, collectors also poses such traits as they extort money from drivers for no apparent reason, some would collect money from drivers for dispersing passengers at bus stops they believe is not meant for the driver as fine for trespassing.

When these so called collectors demand for money, and drivers are reluctant to give or try a gentle man approach, that is negotiating with them, the collectors would become furious. They either damage the bus, seize it or even get into a physical combat with the driver or his conductor.

Why won’t such illegal act continue, when policemen who are to put things in order, also sometimes partake in such acts. When you find out the background of some of these collectors, some turn out to be people who could not continue their education due to lack of funds so they end up as school drop outs, while some end up in such act due to the lack of good home training. Most of them are in their 20s; they are smart and intelligent but lacked funds and bad influence drives them into such act.

With the state of the country’s economy and being a developing country, it is sad that we lose a large number of intelligent youth, to such ignoble and illegal act of thuggery. Youths are full of ideas and dreams and when motivated and morally guided they can explore such ideas.

In order to curb such act, our leaders should endeavor to provide jobs so that youths can have a better stand in the country. Parents should also make sure they train their wards in the right way, giving them attention and motivating them, to achieve greatness.

Youths should also have a change in their mind set, try to develop themselves, no one is born without a talent, they should also try to develop such talents and meet their mentors for advice.

For now, the best way to pacify drivers and conductors who help us move around daily is to treat them politely and to obey them when they dish out instructions like, “hold your change,” to us. It is also important never to pick a fight with them.

 Khadijat Mustapha