We are all high on the pollution in Lagos, Leye Adenle, author of Easy Motion Tourists said this during his book chat with Toni Kan at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Abeokuta last week. This was his answer to a question about what attracts people to Lagos. His reply made us chuckle and clap.
We are high on the pollution.
Getting out of Lagos for the Ake festival itself was almost like taking a camel through the eye of a needle. We were all stuck in Lagos, people slept in that traffic last week. What happened? A trailer fell down, abi caught fire, along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. That is the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that the government has been fixing since independence. So you can imagine the terrible bottle neck that the trailer falling/catching fire must have caused.
People turned and decided to travel through Sango-Ota. If all the cars that had to pass that road last week could talk, or cry, they would have written the Book of Lamentations all over again.
Terrible is an understatement of the state that road is in. Tiny, curvy with huge pot holes everywhere. My heart was in my mouth as we drove through the road around 9pm. The super moon followed us, what was supposed to be a breather became an additional source of fear for me. Please who remembers that old Nollywood movie where the children went for an excursion, their bus got bad so they were driving at night and the full moon was killing them one after the other? I think the movie was called Full Moon? Every scene of the movie came to my mind that evening, but finally we got to Abeokuta in one piece, with a protesting car. I wanted to pat the car and say, “pele buddy, you did good.”
The air was so cool and fresh in Abeokuta. The city was calm, even their taxis, green, not the bright yellow of Lagos that hurts the eyes on sunny days, but less than an hour after I got to my hotel, I was already saying in Lagos this, in Lagos that… why? Internet, I miss my super fast ntel 4G internet, and the Etisalat was crawling. The ATM around the area had this really long queue. I felt like my life was in slow motion.
This is why we are all in Lagos getting high on black smoke from faulty exhausts. Lagos is the honey pot attracting everyone from all over the country. Everything is here, jobs, businesses, ports- air and sea, incredible night life etc etc. It’s only in Lagos you can hear someone say they work as a social media manager, or work for a blog, people in Warri will be looking at you like? Which one is “I work for a blog again?”
In other countries when a city has businesses concentrated in them, people can commute from their own cities to work daily, driving or using trains. Because this is Nigeria, something as simple as building good road and railway networks across this country is rocket science. The old railways were built by the British for their trading networks, every railway leads from the interior straight to the ports. 56 years later, our governments cannot build new railway tracks to connect cities.
Sometimes, I imagine what will happen if the government can dredge the River Niger and ships actually dock there directly. If they fix Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports to function in full capacity. Don’t they see that this will decongest Lagos and Nigerians can spread out and be happy?
Until then, let us get high. Have you taken you daily dose of pollution today fellow Lagosians?