ON STAYING SAFE: Tips for Using Public Transport in Nigeria
…Lessons From a Paranoid Nigerian Father
“Living in Nigeria is already a hazard”, my dad said as he looked out the window with so much disdain.
(Toh, what’s my own? It’s good he thinks this way so I can port ASAP.)
But on a serious note though, if you saw the title of this post and you clicked on it to read it, it’s because you agree with him. It’s a mad flex that should actually be on the list of 1000 ways to die.
I grew up in Port-Harcourt. (I can hear a voice telling me to call it the kidnapping capital of the world, but I won’t call it that because that’s bad PR.) So let’s just say it’s not the safest city in Nigeria. While growing up, my dad made effort to drive us everywhere we needed to be. He’d rather bring your entire school and classmates to the house so you don’t have to go anywhere yourself. But as time went on, he started to free it. Although he hated the whole concept of using “public transport”, he realized we were growing and at some point it would become inevitable, so he took a few opportunities when we sat together to give us some tips (aww, now I think about it, that’s so cute lol).
- The tricycle (what we know as “keke” in PH or “marwa” in Lagos), is the safest option out there. This is because they can’t move so fast, and the fact that there are no doors makes it makes it easier to jump out if you smell a rat or a rabbit lol.
- Buses are the next. This is mostly because of the “strength in numbers”. Y’all are many, someone is likely to scream or do something stupid, or there’ll be someone that the jazz did not catch lol, so you have a chance to do something. Also because buses are more “noticeable” on the road (if you know what I mean) than smaller cars. When you’re in a bus, when you can’t sit in front, sit in the first two rows, preferably space 3 or 6:
This way, you’re really close to the exit in case of fire or something but far enough from impact from other vehicles. So in the case of a crash from either side, you’re safer than everyone else especially the sitting ducks on the last row (avoid it completely when you can).
“You can use a taxi, but only when it’s a matter of life and death”, he said.
This one can get very ugly fast and easily. Taxis can easily be overlooked by policemen (even on the days when they feel like being useful) because they’re the same size as regular cars and some of them aren’t “branded” the taxi colours.
But if you have to use a taxi, especially for long distances, here are some things you should consider:
- Use the branded ones
- Avoid “drop” completely where you can. Use an Uber or Bolt or something that somehow leaves a trail instead and share your trip with someone.
- The more rickety, the better. Choose one; 5 minutes comfort or your life. Stop looking for a fine taxi to enter. If it has a working AC then you’re not even ready. This is for obvious reasons. If you want to kidnap people, won’t you rather have a nice-ish car that can go fast, and can blend in with other cars on the road? Stay woke.
- Don’t be the last person to get in the taxi. You might in fact be the first, do you get? Literally, don’t enter “one chance”, all the others could be anything else but passengers.
- If you get in a taxi and more than two people are speaking in a language you don’t understand at all, that’s a red light, especially if you’re female and they’re male. Stay alert or get down if you can.
- Check the male-female ratio and make sure your instinct is comfortable with it.
- Always try to take a door seat. Obvious reasons, once again.
- Check to see if the door can be opened from inside. Make sure you can control the door and the window, especially the door. This one is the most practical and important tip. Keep it in mind. Please don’t go and pay someone money to kidnap you. Let’s stay safe in this Nigeria.
All these tips are just to help prevent safety hazards that could occur. Sadly, they don’t guarantee your absolute safety, but they definitely would go a long way. It’s better to give God something to work with when he’s trying to save you. So I would say in general, an overall guiding principle should be, “GO WITH YOUR GUT, IT’S ALWAYS RIGHT.” Even when it’s not, better safe than sorry right?
If you found this helpful and you don’t share with your guys, are you really a good friend? Ehn? You sef reason it now…
Are there any tips my dad missed? Anything that you think should be here and isn’t? Please add it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear what you think.
Till next time,