Being stuck in traffic for thirty minutes, an hour or more isn’t unusual in Nigeria, it’s more like the norm rather than the unexpected especially in Lagos. Thus getting stuck in a twenty minute rush hour induced traffic jam last week wasn’t a bother: a surprise maybe, but definitely not a headache. The difference between both scenarios is quite simple; one is a lock down situation whilst the other is a slow, but paced movement on the road. The circumstances leading up to traffic lock downs vary, however the situation is exacerbated by certain factors:
- Drivers behaviour: you learn this during driving classes. Rules on who has the right of way at any given time, what to do under different circumstances on the road. Most of the time drivers remember these rules, but for some reason inner streets have a way of throwing the rules out of the window and replacing them with a contest of whose car is bigger or who’s ego is as bigger as the Taj mahal. Such incidences though seemly insignificant have been known to start street fights and lock downs of
significant hours/proportions (I witnessed this both in Lagos and in London a few days back). Driver induced traffic jams are often avoidable if each remembers to keep the rules at the forefront and their personality on the back seat.
- Traffic control systems: Trevor Noah made a joke about South Africans reactions to traffic lights insinuating that they considered them structures designed to increase the ambience around the area and nothing more. The same can be said for Nigeria, were traffic wardens are also required to help enforce the lights, ridiculous! Traffic lights help control congestion, but they are useless if the citizens don’t adhere to them. We can’t demand better traffic manage on one hand and then refuse the solution with the other. It is important to ensure that people are not exposed to harm as a result of obeying the traffic lights as accounts of people being rubbed or shot abound at traffic lights at night. Even cases of police assaults and scams abound, these issues must be tackled before slamming fines on people for disobeying.
- The road: the need for good road networks has been over flogged on several occasions so I will save us another rendition. Good roads should not be a luxury, they should be a fundamental provision for every rural and urban society. Having experienced traffic jams on both terrains: rough roads and well maintained roads, it is safe to say that good roads indirectly affect a driver’s mental and physical health: it cuts journey times, car maintenance bills and increases drivers confidence on the road amongst other factors.
- General chaos: as with life in general the presence of disorder has a way of making a seemingly straightforward task a mountain climb. The lack of good road network, poor housing plans, poor drainage/ power supply networks and random structures makes driving twice as hard. As mentioned above it these factors subtly affect the mental, physical and emotional mind frame of the driver. Having people swear at your, beep their horns loudly at you and indulge in different forms of road rage influences our disposition and attitude to driving in the long run.
All these factors contribute to increasing accidents and traffic lock downs. Tackling each one is very important, but I fear traffic jams and road lock will continually exist in our communities if the first is addressed by each citizen.
What are your thoughts on traffic jam?