The first time I went to Accra, something strange happened. I got down from a cab and wanted to cross to the other side of the road. Cars were whizzing past, it was an express road. Nigerian that I am I just took position waiting for the smallest gap between cars so I could cross. Next thing I know, like magic, a car stops. As it slowed down, the car on the second lane also slowed. I was looking around wondering where they heard siren from when one of the drivers motioned me to cross. Hian!
I waved my thanks and got to the middle of the road and stood there. Less than one minute the same thing repeated itself.
Coming from a place where you will grow long bear bear that’d sweep the whole of third mainland bridge before anyone stops for you, it was strange. In fact, some drivers will see you about to cross and fire their vehicles.
It’s not so bad in the East, North and South South where I’ve lived; my reference in this post is Lagos. Considering the amount of foot traffic the city has one would think that there’d be a Pedestrian Protection Agency, PPA, but sadly there isn’t and our crossing rights are left at the mercy of riders and drivers.
To cross a road in Lagos
- Only cross the road if you absolutely have to. Use a pedestrian bridge if there’s one nearby. If you want to buy bread and there’s somebody selling on the side you’re on, even if it is day-old, buy it.
- Look both ways. It doesn’t matter if it is one-way, express road, footpath. Look left, look right, look left again and if the road is clear (which it won’t be, look for small gap biko), cross the road.
- Don’t cross at once. Get to the middle and look out for okada and keke. When you get to the other side, just before you finish passing the car, look again. That culvert/sidewalk you see can also serve as road.
- Don’t move until you’re ready. If you’re with someone –an adult – please don’t let them drag you across. Crossing is personal. Like the heavenly race, you don’t want to stop halfway.
- Have patience. Not every time rush rush. Calm down and smell the exhaust smoke.
- Walk like a boss. Sometimes when the road is really busy, forget patience, unless you plan to raise your children by the side of the road, you have to take a step of faith. Walk into the road and believe the driver will slow down. Always select a classy car to do this to sha. Just in case.