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Lagosians leave town for Easter festivities

Source: http://nigeriafilms.com
Passengers scrambling for a bus at the New Garage, Ojota, Lagos. Phoyo: GBENGA OLORUNPOMI
Passengers scrambling for a bus at the New Garage, Ojota, Lagos. Phoyo: GBENGA OLORUNPOMI

By 7am on Friday, the New Garage in Ojota, Lagos, was swarming with passengers, ready to hit the road for the Easter festive season. However, vehicles were unavailable to convey them to their various destinations.

Thousands of people, who waited for the public holiday on Good Friday before making their trips to places outside the state, had to wait for a long time.

Those who were not strong enough to scramble for buses, or bargain with the impatient conductors, sat and waited for hours.

"I have been here since six this morning," said Josiah Omole, a passenger on his way to Kabba, Kogi State. "There were few buses when I got here. It's noon now, and I'm still waiting. If I don't get a bus by 2pm, I will leave my property (luggage) at the garage and come back tomorrow morning."

Expensive fare.

As the passengers' desperation grew, so did the bus fare. For instance, it cost N1,420 to travel to Ikare in Ondo State in the morning. By noon, the price increased to N1,720.

Edward Moru, a business man travelling to Okene, Kogi State, said it was much higher at other bus stations.

"They told me to pay N4,000 to Ikare at the Ojota Garage," he said. "It was my friend who said (suggested) that we come here. Even though I had to enter this bus through the window, I'm happy I will soon be on the move."

Another man going to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Kenneth Okoli, said his failure to get a flight ticket, forced him to travel by road.

"I was at the office yesterday, and I went to the airport but they said they were overbooked," he said. "I have an important event to attend, so I have to take the road."

It was however observed that the drivers resisted the urge to carry more than the limit of three passengers per seat. The Federal Road Safety Commission started enforcing the rule on the 1st January, 2009.

"I like the idea because it's more comfortable. I don't mind if it is more expensive," Mr. Moru said.

Compassionate Chairman.

When a driver told Bukola Adeola the fare to Ikare was N2,500, she started to despair. However, the New Garage park chairman, Tunde Bayode, told the driver to accept N1,720 from the passengers or leave the garage.

Asked why the drivers unilaterally increase fares, Mr. Bayode said in Yoruba, "I blame the passengers. Some of them tell the drivers to take them at any cost, claiming they are in a hurry. I want more people to come here, so I have to keep the prices down."

Accident on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

As the passengers awaited buses arriving from neighbouring states, rumours of a possible accident delaying traffic, started making the rounds. A driver, Muyideen Abdulsalam, confirmed the report.

"A tanker carrying diesel fell and exploded at the filling station in Malo, (on the Lagos-Ibadan Expessway)," he said in Yoruba. "It has caused a huge holdup."

Mr. Abdulsalam was loading his bus with passengers at 1pm. He looked at the passengers and their luggage, and sighed. "I doubt if we will get to Ibadan before six today," he said.