Lagos Public Transport Drama (Lesson One – Never whisper a bus stop)

Transport in Lagos

Lagos Transportation

Once you step into Lagos, know you are now in Lagos and you should embrace the spirit of Lagos. You can’t be dull and it is against the unwritten code of ethics to be sluggish or too relaxed. There are companies running urban taxi services with well educated drivers, however, if you never use the public transport system – Danfo, Coaster, LT, or those long buses that ply Oshodi isale (under bridge) or Ketu, you may be missing out on the fun, frenzy and drama of being in Lagos.

One of the most important unwritten laws of Lagos is that you must never, ever whisper your bus stop to the driver as he approaches it. NO! It doesn’t work like that in Lagos. Drama between bus drivers and passengers is sometimes because the passengers choose to ‘whisper’ their bus stop or use bedroom voice rather than say it loud and clear. Nobody cares if you have a sweet, sexy, soul melting voice on the bus, keep it and use it at home when you are with friends and family. On the streets of Lagos, you must learn to use your voice to your advantage and make it loud and clear.

As the driver approaches your stop, speak out loud, or better still, yell out the name of the bus stop and say “o wa” (pronounced “ower”). For example if your bus stop is Mile 2, just yell out at least twice “Mile 2 o wa oo” as the bus approaches it. The “oo” is simply for emphasis and is a long form of pronouncing alphabet ‘O’. If you don’t say it loud and clear, with affirmation from either the driver or conductor, you are probably going to be taken beyond your intended bus stop and this is really frustrating. Don’t give drivers and conductors a reason to frustrate you.

Sometimes you come across a passenger who assumes the driver/conductor (called ‘mate’ in Ghana) can clearly hear them, so they make the mistake of not saying “o wa” loud and clear. Once the driver passes their intended bus stop, they begin to shout, rant, and rain abuses tens of decibels higher than they should have initially done. The shouting they should have done at first is still done anyway, only that, this time it is laced with anger, frustration and of course harshly doled out in a high tone. Hehehehe, they have to, in addition, walk back to the bus stop. Really annoying, you don’t want to be in their shoes.

I beg you from the depth of my heart, with every atom of candour in me, never, ever say to a public bus driver or conductor you want to ‘alight’ at the next bus stop. Lagos drivers and their ‘conductors’ don’t have the time for Queen’s English and correct usage. Don’t give them a reason to frustrate you. Simply say “o wa oo” (pronounced ‘ower o’) or just say “o’n bo’le” (pronounced ‘own bore ler’). If you are ever taken beyond your bus stop after these, you are surely going to get the support of other passengers. That’s the spirit of Lagos.

If you are new, then WELCOME TO LAGOS and I hope you enjoy your stay. Gbam!!!


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