In the wake of the recently approved Traffic Laws (a declaration of war on Lagos road users) by the state government, I took the liberty to compile rules of engagement for Lagos drivers. Engaged wisely, and apply at your own risk.
25 Rules Of Engagement
1. When in doubt, accelerate! Ask questions later.
2. Be prepared to ram anything stopping you wearing uniform in Lagos (police, traffic warden, civil defense, FRSC, KAI brigade, fire brigade, VIO, LASTMA, LAMATA, LASWA, even LAWMA sef).
3. And if you get caught by any chance, DO NOT allow them to enter your car. If you are unlucky and they happen to get in, DO NOT drive from that spot. Veer off traffic, and aptly settle with NGN500. If they don’t agree, form calling your uncle who is in the army (believe me it always works). Whatever you do, NEVER follow them to ANY sort of office except you want to pay ten times of whatever is in your pocket.
4. Never give police or VIO your original particulars (whether expired or up-to-date) .
5. Danfo drivers believe they are immortal. NEVER yield to the temptation to prove them otherwise.
6. Okada riders have a pact with suicide, avoid them like a plague.
7. Avoid BRT buses by all means, they have NO brakes!
8. Taxi cabs (oko asewo) are entitled to have the right of way, all of them have been driving in Lagos for 25 years. Show some respect.
You would notice I omitted “Private car owners” (popularly called ‘my car’). It is intentional. They are in a class of their own. Best advice: ASSUME THE NEXT PERSON IS INSANE (don’t be deceived by the tie and suit). And in cases of confrontation, please proceed to deal with such situations as you are inspired
9. Never ever stop for a pedestrian unless he/she flings himself/herself under the wheels of your car. Time is money.
10. The first parking space you see will be the last parking space you see. Grab it. Survival of the fittest you may say!
11. Learn to swerve abruptly. In Lagos, potholes (and sometimes car-holes) are put in key locations to test drivers’ reflexes and shock absorbers. (I saw a man fishing in one of the potholes last week).
12. Never get in the way of a car that needs extensive bodywork, except you want to spend your whole Saturday at the panel beater’s place.
13. Morning rush-hours are equivalent to Lagos Grand Prix (who gets to the junction first).
14. There is no such thing as a short-cut during rush-hour traffic in Lagos. Everybody might be inclined to take that ’short-cut’.
15. When asking for directions, always ask at least three people. Lagosians ALWAYS claim to know every inch of the city – even areas they have never been to.
16. Use extreme caution when pulling into service lanes. Service lanes are not for breaking down the traffic, but for speeding (especially during rush hour).
17. Never use directional signals, since they only confound and distract other Lagos drivers, who are not used to them. Just the same way they don’t understand road signs.
18. Similarly, never attempt to give hand signals. Lagos drivers, unused to such courtesies, will think you are making obscene gestures at them, and they would respond in kind. This could be very bad for you in Lagos.
19. Hazard light (popularly called ‘double pointer’) is not (as supposedly believed) used to indicate a hazard. It is a warning to you that he is a bonafide Lagos driver, he is headed ‘straight’ and as such, will not stop under any circumstance. Take him extremely seriously especially if he backs it up with a continuous blast from his “horn”.
20. At any given time, do not stand on the zebra crossing expecting traffic to yield to you, or else you will have to explain to the on coming traffic whether you look like a zebra.
21. Speed limits are arbitrary figures posted only to make you feel guilty.
22. Remember that the goal of every driver is to get there first by whatever means necessary. This is where we all get to display skills picked up from playing NFS (Need For Speed) and GTA (Grand Theft Auto).
23. In Las Gidi every spot is a potential bus stop. FRSC and LASTMA know that too. It is in their constitution.
24. Above all, keep moving. Even with a flat tire!!!
25. HORNING IN LAGOS
- Horn when someone executes a dangerous manoeuvre.
- Horn when you’re about to move off.
- Horn when you’re about to overtake.
- Horn when someone is about to overtake you.
- Horn when turning into a road.
- Horn when emerging from a road.
- Horn back when someone horns at you. It is considered good etiquette.
- Horn when the traffic light takes forever to change from red to green.
- Horn when you hear a chorus of horns. Don’t worry if you don’t know what all the ‘horning’ is about.
- Horn when you are happy.
- Horn to the beat when you’re playing music in your car.
Good luck, as you expeditiously navigate through Lagos’s hustle and bustle, where driving is now warfare!
- Akinsola Fadeyi for extra tips. Please do not engage him in traffic. You most likely would come off worst.
- Jide Odukoya for the wonderful photographs.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only. It does not (in any way) reflect or represent the opinions of the blog.