Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Downward Spiral

Maybe I am just being unnecessarily pessimistic, but it seems that many things that start of promisingly in Nigeria eventually go south.

Take driving in Abuja, for instance. When I have visited in the past, I always marvelled about how sane the driving is - especially compared to Lagos. And it still is! But getting from point A to B in Abuja is increasingly becoming a heart-stopping experience. I've heard it attributed to the multitude of road works going on at the moment, which diverts the traffic to illogical and life-threatening routes. I was in ABJ this week and on our way to the Old Secretariat, some road construction led us to cut across a busy expressway and sail into oncoming traffic. Or maybe we just had a driver who loved to live on the edge. Either way, I can no longer shake my head at Lagos traffic and think "Well, all Nigerian drivers are not totally crazy. There are other parts of Nigeria, like Abuja, where people actually practice safe driving."

I still love being in Abuja though and when there I can feel myself immediately floating into a much calmer space.


Anonymous said...

Hey i just thought you might find this interesting. It is the text from an English Ladie's trip to Nigeria in 1951.

Trip to Nigeria 1951
A Diary by A. Margaret Jefferies (1912-1992)

Jeremy said...

I actually think that driving in Abuja is more dangerous than Lagos. First, a lot of the time the traffic lights at crossroads don't work, and cars smash into each other at right angles. Every single day on the same journey I take to work I see at least one serious road accident. About three or four times a week I see an okada accident. Second, people take advantage of the relatively empty roads to drive at speed - this generates accidents of itself. Third, because no one takes a driving test, and very few take lessons, there is no concept of lane discipline, signalling, using the mirror or of overtaking only from one side. This unruly behaviour creates accidents.

Until people are forced to take a rigorous driving test, bones will continue to break every day on Abuja's roads..

Ore said...

Hi anon, thanks for sending. I really enjoyed reading. I especially loved the photos. It was so surreal to see a Lagos of a bygone era.

Jeremy, I agree with you that the fact that Abuja has relatively empty and wide streets really encourages people to over-speed. It's such a shame, because for a while there, I was so impressed by the fact that drivers actually obeyed traffic lights and drove with some consideration. Not so anymore.