Episode 9 here
Here I was at Oshodi waiting for a Molue; a popular means of commuting passengers from one place to another in Lagos. The molue was famous for substandard services rendered by half drunken drivers with buses in such conditions that were not suitable for what they were used for. What choice did I have sef? I had 70naira left on me; it was either the bus or walk home. After 20minutes of waiting in the scorching sun a rickety, rheumatism-causing bus came bounding along and to my shock, half the crowd were going to Obalende as well. Wahala number one, that means war! After wasting time waiting for a bus, I was not ready to form ‘bigboi’ and let that one pass by me, lailai. As if reading my mind, one frail looking man standing close to me gave me the ‘oya-make-we–see’ look. Choi,today na die! Over 100 people waiting, armed with upper-cuts, blows, slaps, and push to make it inside the almost filled bus successfully.
“Obalende aaye Joko”, bellowed the conductor. Within seconds, the almost filled bus was full to the door-mouth with sweaty, ‘gingered’ Lagosians. It was 9:45pm, a very late hour for a 3rd Mainland Bridge plyer. The bus had terrible headlights, it was just as bright as a candle light and one could barely see the road. The driver of the bus unbelievably had a rechargeable lamp tied to the side mirror. It was one of those unique kinds of molue that had the driver’s seat barricaded like a cage and a small door for the driver to pass through. The bus was poorly lit, giving the tightly packed bus an eerie feeling, like something crazy was about to happen.
People were headed mostly home. The bus was filled with preachers, drug-sellers, spare-part dealers, food sellers. Everyone supposed to make the journey interesting were tired, longing for the warmth of their beds.
From no where, came the shocker. Due to late hour, the driver and conductor decided to hike the fare by thirty Naira,rounding it up to the nearest hundred. I knew World War “III” was about to start because most like me, had budgeted 70 Naira. The already ‘gingered’ crowd were ready for anything, with their tempers on the edge, an aluta was brewing. How
could they increase the fare just like that? Who dem be when fuel never pass 97 Naira? I pray ooo, we no go pay. In short, people’s blood had reached boiling point! There was commotion everywhere. The driver barely had his eyes on the road as he kept turning back to hurl insults. No one was ready to pay and the conductor wasn’t ready to change his mind. After enough shouts and ‘aluta’ chants by the commuters and the driver’s reluctant interference, the conductor grudgingly accepted 70 Naira and everyone was happy. As we got on the 3MB from Adeniji Adele, the bus suddenly started quaking, jerking like an epileptic patient, forcing the driver to stop . Aaaarrrrgh ! On top 3MB, the longest bridge in africa? At 10:12pm at that? “Haa, how man wan take reach house?”, was the first thought that ran through my head. Nooooo it must not happen ooooo! First, it was noise, unrest and fear. Next came the insults, and normal rebuke of poor maintenance and there were the tirades of people with ‘experiences’ and of course last came the way forward. However, in the midst of the melee, we forgot the driver.
The guy had crossed over to the other side of the 3MB. Everyone at first thought there was a problem until we saw the conductor race like a mad man to meet his oga on the other side of the bridge. That was when the conspiracy dawned on us. Because we failed to pay 100 Naira, the driver decided to leave us in the overcrowded bus in the middle of the 3MB at that very unfriendly time of the evening. The driver and conductor had taken their pound of flesh. Different modes and in
different parts of soprano, tenor and bass rent the air.‘ Yeeeeeee!’,
‘oloriburuku’, awon weyray’, enough curses rented the air, the sudden realisation that we were alone, in the middle of the 3MB, with the nearest treakkable distance being Iyana Oworo, a fair 100km away dawned on us. People became humble straight!We started pleading with the driver and conductor profusely. To make matters worse, the crazed driver had even started walking in the direction of Iyana Oworo.
“Oga driver, pleaseeeeeee”, one woman cried. “Joor baba okomi, ma shey bayi”,another pleaded. For where? The guy just boned our side. There is this feeling that comes with the realisation that something very bad can happen. You will just be humble. Na so we dey o. Some of us were contemplating how to start walking home. A man was even trying to signal some fishermen below to help, like say him go jump the bridge. My mind was spinning out of control as I thought
about my life – only child, no wife, no girlfriend;
nothing to show that I existed and I will just die like that?
Con see as prayer warriors begin to dey cast out and bind! Some
were invoking all kinds of spirits to come save the day. Some had started calling family and friends to break the story. Many tried flagging down cars and buses at formula 1 like speeds. For where? Who go stop?
After what seemed like ages, we eventually succeeded in persuading the driver who insisted we paid the initial price before continuing the journey. After another 15mins on the bridge spent on collecting the extra30naira from all of us, the driver eventually hopped into his seat.
“Tayyyuuuuunnnnyuuunnnnnyunnnnnnyyyuuunnn….”, the molue would not start!
Fearing the wrath of the passengers, the driver attempted to bail but one ‘soji’ guy grabbed him sharp sharp !
After another round of abuses and insults, we diagnosed the bus problem. No kick starter, meaning we had to push the bus till it started.
Wetin eye see dat day eh, e heavy for mouth! We had to take turns pushing the bus to start. After another 19mins, we got the bus moving, with billows of smoke covering the bus like lord Vildermort in the Harry porter series.
Mehn, that day no be beans at all. As we rolled into Anthony, i heaved a sigh of relief. The almost silent bus came to life again and everyone, including the driver became chatty and cozy as we all laughed and recounted the events of the night. We eventually reached oshodi around 11.34pm and the driver, out of his ‘finite’ mercies decided to take us down to Cele free of charge… You guessed right, we declined!!!
Written by Nick Benson-Osagiede.
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Bus Tales 11 on friday 9th August by @alesakin30