When I read about the Nigerian senior football team popularly known as the Super Eagles trip to Republic of Benin for their qualifiers match I wondered why they had to use the water ways inside of land. Nigeria as a country has underutilized the waterways and hardly encourages her citizens to make use of waterways.
Yesterday, my job took me to Aradagun, a suburb closer to Badagry and it was then I knew why the national team had avoided using land. I left my house as early as 6:30am and took a commercial bus to Ikotun from Okota then before landing at Igando. I had to take another bus to Iyana-Iba. All this while, the journey had been smooth. It was from Iyana-Iba bus stop that the nightmare started. I was shocked at the state of the road. It was not just terrible but a disaster.
The nightmarish journey started with several potholes and bumps on the road. At some point, one lane will be smooth while the other lane is a danger zone and at some other point, we will find ourselves at the other lane because the former one is already messy. It is advisable that pregnant women should never ply that route for any reason. The center parts of the road were either filled with refuse, construction slabs, or you find some people using the free space for selling their wares. Also, in one section of the road you find a community of beggars and miscreants.
As I was complaining about the state of the road just before Ijanikin, the driver of the commercial bus laughed. He said “Oga, this side wey you dey na Ikoyi (Ikoyi is one of the highbrow areas in Lagos). After Agbara, na then you go know say you enter wahala”. He then told me about how trailers and trucks kept falling every day with goods or get stuck when they enter into a ditch especially during the raining season.
It was the right choice for the Eagles not to have travelled through land. I am sure that those foreign based players who have never experienced hardship would have fallen seriously sick before they even get to Benin republic.
As we got to Agbara, the driver came down from the bus and handed over to his motor boy. He was already tired from the bumpy ride. The second wave of the nightmare started. This was worse. It was more than a nightmare. The feeling was like a horrible monster emerging out of a bad dream and coming to reality. Then as usual, policemen who were armed and battle ready were on the road having a field day extorting money. As we approached Mowo, The driver shouted “Everybody get your nose cover (Face mask)”. He slowed down as some Face masks sellers approached the bus to make sales. We continued towards some Face Mask enforcers. It was then I discovered I was the only one wearing a face mask. The irony of the law of face mask was that even those who are meant to enforce the law had their face mask on their chin rather than covering their noses and mouths.
We came across a truck that had fallen with all the goods spilled over. It has been left there unattended to. It posed as a danger but no one seemed to care about it. There was no presence of road safety or LASTMA officers on ground. Every driver was just trying to maneuver their way through the fallen truck. We had not driven more than some meters when we sighted officers of road safety and some policemen at an illegal check point extorting money from drivers. The fallen truck would not fetch them free money so they had decided to look the other way.
At 10:30am I finally arrive at my destination. The road into Aradagun town was no different from the one I had travelled from Iyana-Iba through Agbara. At some point, I discovered that they were constructing the road but it appeared abandoned. When I was done with my business, I had to psych myself on how to face the nightmarish journey back home. I got a bus and we started the journey. The road remained the same but this time around, there were new monsters on the road. Touts in the name of road transport union workers tormented the drivers. From Aradagun junction to Agbara junction I counted more than 15 angry, dirty and rough looking touts. There was a point that the motor boy of our bus had to come down to fight off one of these touts because he took something from the vehicle when he refused to pay some certain amount.
According to our driver, some of the touts were working for the police men to assist them in collecting money because of social media. Someone could get a video of them collecting bribes so they had to employ these touts to do their bidding. Another set of monsters on the way were the policemen and custom officers who under the guise of looking for smugglers extort money from the drivers. This time I decided to go through the mile 2 route and instantly regretted it. It was a big mistake.
As I write this article, I am stilling feeling weakness and feverish from that journey. With the rains coming soon, if nothing is done to that road, Badagry will soon be cut off from Nigeria. Is it not a shame that the road that connects Nigeria to other West African countries is a no-go area? The government has not completed the Badagry road but they are about to embark on the one to Niger and yet they have a minister. The transport minister should take a trip in a commercial bus down the road and find out if he will not be hospitalized after the trip. This is the road people are plying everyday and you expect them to be okay. The road itself can cause insanity. It kills faster than Covid-19.