24 October 2016

Hafiz Adewuyi

Beating a red traffic light in Lagos

This morning, sometime between 5:15 and 5:30, I beat a red light. I was on the way to work and ain't nobody got time on a Monday morning to wait for a redundant red light. Every second matters in ensuring I do not get to participate in rush hour traffic which is something I actively try to avoid in my life.

The light at the Adekunle-Third mainland intersection turned red just as I was going to reach the junction where it stands. And fair enough, I waited for a few seconds until the vehicles that had right of way were out of the way. I mean, the closest car to which my passage could have been an obstruction was at least, five seconds away, even if he was driving a zero to 60 in 3 seconds Buggati. Ok, I'm not so sure about the Buggati thing cos' those things can speed up like crazy, but come on, what are the chances at Ebute Metta on a Monday morning!

As I ascended the Third Mainland bridge from Adekunle, I saw light from a motorcycle headlamp in my rearview mirror and I wondered for a moment if that could be the MOPOL coming for me on his power bike. However, as my car gained speed, the single light disappeared into the distance and I knew that once again, I had successfully gotten away with breaking the law.

Just this Saturday, I was chatting with a friend and we broached the topic of beating red lights in Nigeria. He's a lawyer and we were talking about the bribing culture in Nigeria and how Nigeria is just such a fucked place where we could use some discipline. I told him of how I usually beat red lights in the morning on my way to work, and he told me how if I was in the UK, I would definitely be apprehended. Fortunately, we're in Nigeria where pretty much anything goes unless you're very unlucky.

On a related note, it was sort of a culture shock to me to notice some months ago how traffic compliance rates are so wide apart on the island and on the mainland. I had not been to the mainland for several consecutive months. So when I drove to Agege to visit my folks for the weekend, it was interesting to find that almost no one obeys the traffic lights, whether day or night. Comparatively, the compliance rates are pretty high on the Island. I can pin it down to the fact that the less elite are being influenced by the elite? Or perhaps it's the fact that the roads are generally better. Who knows!

Well, as they say, everyday is for the thief and just one day is for the owner. So, even though the following justifications are unlikely to make the policeman let me go scot free, if I word things correctly, I might be able to get a discount on my bribe if I get caught:

  • I just copied the car in front of me; why can't you catch him too!
  • The traffic lights should be more intelligent and not delay me unnecessarily when there is virtually no other vehicle on the road
  • Waiting too long on one spot is dangerous in the early morning hours
  • Ise esu ni (it was the work of the devil) 
  • I am colour-blind

On a final note, please ensure you shine your eyes if you are thinking of emulating me. Make sure there is no Police van or bike parked discreetly in the vicinity of the traffic light. Also, for the sake of (your) life and property, be sure that there is next to no chance that your illegal passage will coincide with the passage of any vehicle which has right of way. Cos' if any accident occurs as a result, then you will be absolutely done for.

You know, I'm wondering. What if the responsible Law Enforcement Agent were to stumble upon this post where I'm admitting to a traffic crime, would this be an automatic guilty sentence for me?

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28 October 2016 at 11:01 delete

Oops. Looks like someone did not pay attention during Elementary science classes. I guess that could serve as my next excuse once my first one is refuted with your comment

1 November 2016 at 10:29 delete

Hafiz you are totally right, the mere fact that we know the law enforcement agencies will get us makes me drive carefully in the UK, watching every speed limit and road signs. Cos every fine is an extra bill. Meanwhile in Nigeria I care not about the police or Lastma, their value has depreciated with the rate of corruption. Traffic lights become road decorations when we are late or find ourselves in the blind spot of Lastma. Our value system need to change before we can think of any form of progress.

7 November 2016 at 03:07 delete

Perhaps, the apparent difference in traffic light compliance is because in some areas, traffic wardens at times direct the traffic differently from the working traffic lights. So, I'm guessing motorists in those axes just get used to not following the traffic lights. Besides, there are a number of areas on the mainland where traffic lights MUST be followed ( or else you risk 2 policemen and 1 LASTMA man forcing their way into your car, trying to get some cash of you).

And yeah, in some other parts of the world, running a red light results in a fine of approx. N300K. Only. (See: http://life-in-saudiarabia.blogspot.com.ng/2016/10/sr-6000-fine-for-crossing-red-light-and.html )

7 November 2016 at 07:58 delete

OMG! Lagosians would be so law abiding if traffic fines were to be that steep around here.

I think we're seriously spoiled because I was watching a YouTube video from an Los Angeles based vlogger yesterday and he hinted that a DUI ticket could cost from $5000 to $10000.