Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, I hail thee !! Lagosians I hail thee. Here I am, sweating profusely all because NEPA has refused to give us light. I couldn’t help but share my thoughts about the Keke and Okada Ban in Lagos State. As you might have guessed from my previous articles, I love ordering Uber whenever I can afford it. I love my comfort. Who doesn’t? The problem now becomes maintaining that kind of lifestyle when you don’t have shishi (a penny) or when there are other responsibilities staring at you in the face.
You see, immediately I heard of the Keke and Okada ban, I just started to think of my life (I live around the outskirts of Lagos state, very close to Ogun state ) .
My Personal Experience with the Okada ban
On Monday, we were asked to come very early to work because of some things we had to do. I decided to wake up at 4:30am, I had my bath, prepared and got to my bus-stop at 6:00 am ( don’t ask me what I was doing for 1hour,30minutes lol) . I stood at the bus-stop from that 6:00 am to about 8 am. It was not like there were no buses but most of them were already filled up by the time they got to my bus-stop and the ones that were going towards my direction increased the fare to about three times the normal price.
It felt like everyone in Lagos after the Keke and Okada ban had agreed to come out at the same time (like they said 1! 2! Ready ! GO! ). I finally got a bus but haaa!! I was just cursing and swearing under my breath. It felt like we were 50 in a 16seater bus, considering the fact that it seemed like everyone was carrying a person on their lap. I couldn’t help but feel so much pity when I saw people trekking along the way. They had probably waited and waited at the bus-stops and just decided to walk till they get a bus or a motorist to carry them. Surprisingly, the Bus-stops in Lagos was packed full, and in spite of everything, I got to work by 10:30 am and believe me when I say I was not even that late considering where I was coming from and the others who weren’t at work yet.
Getting to work was a walk in the park, compared to what I experienced on my way back home. I had to first branch at Abule-Egba through Agege with a friend of mine before facing my house. I tried leaving work by 3:40 pm, the bus began moving towards our destination by about 4 pm. As we began approaching Agege, that’s when the driver decided to drop us “oya e bole ! e ma waste time mi”. ( come down! Don’t waste my time). A man in the bus replied, “ shey e ya werey nii, shey ibi to yeke gbe wa bole niyi?” ( Hope you are not mad ? Is this where you are supposed to drop us after collecting the amount you did?). They began to exchange words almost beating themselves up. My friend and I came down from the bus. Just in case I forgot to mention earlier, I was wearing my NYSC outfit on this day.
I don’t know about anyone else’s but my khaki is not suitable for trekking, jumping or walking far distances. Any small mistake or overextension of body parts is catastrophic. In fact, you need to see the acrobatics I usually display whenever I want to hop on a bike or danfo (bus). Anyways that is how my friend and I began our “pilgrimage to Jerusalem” , we trekked “sote” to the extent that I began to ask God if something was not wrong with my destiny .“Mehn! this suffering is too much” I reiterated. By the time we got to the place we were hoping to eventually get a bus, we saw people there waiting for the bus . I looked down at my shoes and began to feel pity for myself (they were as dusty as the Gobi desert in Mongolia). I felt like practically removing my shoe and walking barefooted because of the pain I was feeling on my feet as if to say my legs had grown 1 or 2 sizes.
Did I finally get a bus?
After waiting for about 20 minutes a bus came but it was only my friend that was able to get in before I could say “Jack-Robinson”, they had pushed me away from the entrance of the bus. At this point, my friend was visibly upset that I wasn’t fast enough to enter the bus and had to come down (omolomo she done waka tire!) . We waited and eventually got into another bus. Fast forward to after we had gotten to where we’re going, it was now time for us to go our separate ways. “Ile ya” I thought to myself. Let me just say it wasn’t the same person that left home that got back home. Apart from losing a few pounds (lol), the white I wore was no longer / close to white in the scheme of colors. Did I mention that I live on the outskirts of Lagos? A place where most of the roads are just being constructed so we basically just have roads adorned with red sand?
Honestly speaking, I have never walked the way I did yesterday, and the fact that this was just the beginning (day1) 1 of this new policy frightens me. I felt like I was in a foreign land (just like the Israelites in Egypt ). In the bus yesterday, the issue of this ban was brought up and I could hear them say was that we should just pray to God to change Nigeria and they were done complaining bitterly. I then began to ponder on why people suffer so much under an elitist government they elected into power and would then say that Prayer was the next thing to do! Why do Nigerians depend on prayer or religious frivolities as their next course of action whenever there is a challenge or crisis in the country? I looked at the man who sat next to me and said “Sir we have been praying since forever, even before I was born we have been praying. Why can’t we do something order than prayer ?” . He replied, “na so we see am o”.
I’m hoping that the Lagos state government would find a lasting solution to transportation problems in Lagos and not just formulate policies that would be favorable to them only but also to the masses at large. The country is honestly already hard enough. It can be argued that this move (the ban) is a covert attempt at increasing the revenue for the government since many members of the population would be left to solely depend on buses. Such buses now pay additional fees(especially now)per loading to the Lagos state through “agberos” who then remunerate to the Lagos state government. Others have even argued that there would soon be alternatives provided which would be completely monopolized by the state government most likely to the detriment of the people. It is, however, of great importance to understand that whenever policies like these are made, better alternatives should be made available.
I’m in support of the Governor’s agenda of developing Lagos to a megacity but I am believing that the government should make its people a priority. Also, there should have been at least a 30-90 day period for the riders to either get a new source of livelihood or put 1 or 2 things in place before the commencement of this Keke and Okada ban . How can a state like Lagos not have working ferries , metro trains, and enough buses? If all these are put in place then this policy would have been beautiful. This policy despite its potentials has to be revisited.
Thank you for reading. I await your thoughts as well as your experiences in the comment section.