Ever been on a Lagos BRT before? Can you recall what your first BRT experience in Lagos was like? Fun? Normal? Mine was awful and I’m going to tell you why.
So y’all have seen the video of Femi Otedola in a molue, right? I’m guessing you oohed and ahhed, gushing at how amazing it is that he took the plunge to the baser lifestyle of the average Nigerian. Okay, not so average.
Funny enough, while I watched the video clip, all I could think of was how I felt when I got into a BRT bus for the first time.
In all my years as a Lagosian, all my life actually, I had never been in a BRT or molue for that matter. Until April. It was my first BRT experience in Lagos that I promised that I would never repeat. Actually, I never even thought I would ever experience it, despite all my talks of how I’m a Lagosian and I’ve basically done everything that counts in Lagos –eaten boli, trekked from one bus stop to another, fought with conductor for change, haggled and bargained for the price of pepper in a market, taken a bike from Ikeja to my home (quite a scary heart-in-my mouth distance), the list goes on..or so I thought!
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I digress. Anyway, so how was my first BRT experience in Lagos? Awful! I was holding onto my bag like hell’s waters.
How it all began? I was running late for an appointment and had to figure out how to get from Ketu to Ikoyi. CMS, was the option. Alas, there was no bus heading straight that way and Ubering it wasn’t an option, I mean girl was reeeed, so I bit the bullet and decided to get into a BRT bus when it seemed like the only option.
I was like, yay, gonna get there on time, save funds and still feel like a G. Yeah? No.
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I did save funds. I mean, BRT from Ketu to TBS was N200! Imagine my surprise! Gosh, how I’ve been wasting money on transport (a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do). I could not believe my luck.
Then came the surprise, more like culture shock(s). First, as I was about to buy my ticket, I saw some kids tryna get my attention; “Aunty, aunty! Please comman buy our ticket.”
I was like whoa, what’s going on here? Looked at the ticket guy and he gave me this unassuming look. I was like hell to the na, nobody gonna syphon my funds. Before I had time to react, the guy was asking the kids if they had change, so he could give me their ticket instead of the authentic one with him. I was like “who be mugu for here?” Politely told him no and bought the right ticket.
I thought that was all for the drama, only for me to almost get into the wrong bus, being saved from myself by some passengers. I’m sure they knew I was clueless.
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Got saved and onto the next bandwagon. Oh the horror, I felt so out of place, I couldn’t understand it, I mean, this is the girl that takes public transport like no man’s business then suddenly she is scared and holding onto her bag looking bright-eyed.
I was like, get a hold of yourself! But, no, the inner voice wouldn’t shut up; “What if they steal your bag?”, “Don’t bring out your phone”, “Don’t look too stiff”, “Don’t look too fidgety”, “Oh my gosh, this is how it must feel in subways, no wonder people are warned about subways”, “Is this appointment really that important”, “Why so stingy? Should have taken Uber”, “What if you miss your bus stop? You can’t shout ‘owa!‘ like before.”
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Don’t get me wrong, my fellow passengers looked like respectable people but the ones that didn’t…didn’t and that was not easy to deal with. I mean in other public transports, if there’s a calamity…say someone going crazy in the bus…you can jump out the window (maybe?) Or go out the trunk, but in this BRT bus, there was no escaping, the bus was high and sealed. Hmm, no wonder it’s easy for Americans to hijack school buses and the likes over there (well, it’s seen in the movies), there’s no escape route.
On getting to Costain, I became somewhat relieved knowing I would soon get to my bus stop, only for the driver to get to Leventis and scream at the few of us left in the bus that Leventis was the last bus-stop.
I swerved, “Wait, what!”
Before I said anything, an old man got up and started ranting at the driver, another passenger who tried to pacify the situation finally begged the driver to explain to the Leventis ticket guy that we didn’t know we got into the wrong bus and he should let us get into another that’d take us to our destination. The bus driver refused, abusing me and the five other passengers.
Tails between our legs, led by the ranting old man, we went to meet the ticket salesperson and explained our situation. Seeing how many we were, he believed us and got us into another bus going to CMS without charging us a ticket fee.
Upon getting to CMS, I swiftly got down, thanked the old man that saved our situation, got into a “safer” public transport, well on my way to the venue. In time.
Anyway, so I watched Otedola’s molue video clip and wondered how he must have been feeling. I noticed he checked his pocket when he got down.
One question though, didn’t passengers recognize him?
Oh, by the way, I survived, got to my appointment on time and got back home safely.
My BRT experience in Lagos ranks up there with my Okada-on-the-express experience. I will tell you about that sometime. But for now…Ciao.
So, what was your first BRT experience in Lagos like? Tell me about it, will you?
Molue – Lagos yellow buses popular in 90’s
BRT – Bus Rapid Transit
Bike – Motorcycle
Boli – roasted plantain
“Feel like a G” – (slang) to be on top of your game
“Who be mugu for here?” – Do I look stupid?
Owa! – (Yoruba) This is my stop!
Gabriella Opara is an illustrator of words, drawings and clothes. She blogs at glamogenscribbles.wordpress.com/
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The Lagos Series is a project which aims at sharing an enlightening, entertaining and inspiring narrative of Lagos in both written and visual media.
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