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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Buzzing Hornets of Lagos

The okadas are like hornets buzzing around cars traveling in swarms. They literally weave in and out of traffic all around them and once in a while they'll sting you ( a.k.a. side swipe your car with a handle bar or an elbow). The okadas are crazy!!! Some say that to be an okada driver, one must not care for his life. I don't know if that is true, but if you watch the way they drive, you would think they thought they had 50 lives to use! It is amazing to me how an okada driver will pull out in front of traffic without looking and about 6 cars are blaring their horns...he won't even give a glance in the cars' direction. Just when you think you are in the clear, another okada will turn up. I don't know how Fatai drives in the crazy place.
The fact of the matter is, okada drivers have very hard lives. Many of them have families who are depending on the money they make to feed their families. I asked Fatai what the average cost of an okada ride from our compound out to Lekki market would be...he told me about 250 naira ( the ride is about 5 miles) and that is less than three dollars. No wonder they are constantly on the road not paying attention...only wanting to get their next paying customer...

Many places around Lagos, you'll see the "packs" of okada drivers waiting for customers to taxi to different places. Sometimes, you will even see them sleeping on their bikes. Many times, they don't have a home close they will actually sleep on their bikes so they are not stolen. I know I get really annoyed with the okada drivers and the problems they cause for traffic in Lagos, but I guess everyone has to try to make a living somehow!:)

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