RUNDOWN TO THE END OF 21

An adventure with Abuja public transport.

UTC Area 10


One time, one of my supervisors chastised me for coming in late to
work. I explained how difficult it is to get a bolt ride, and how I
had to book and cancel for almost 2 hours before I got one. She did
not waste time in telling me to get off my high horse and take the
regular along cab that everyone takes.  That was when it hit me, I
don’t even know how to take myself to the CBD where my office is
unless I am driving myself or with bolt ride. Plus, the woeful tales
of cab robbery and kidnapping I hear from friends, family and online
keeps uncertain of ever attempting along rides.
Well, motivational speakers always tell us to get out of our comfort
zone. And that’s exactly what I did. Not knowing what to expect, I
dressed for the unexpected, in canvas and trousers; took a bike to the
junction where cabs line up in my area of residence. I got to the one
loading and told them where I was going, driver said enter. I got in
the front seat, next thing, driver was saying shift shift. I said oga
shift go where? He said shift and put your buttocks here (tapping the
space between the two front seats). Flustered, I looked at him and
asked why and he said, so that I will take another passenger.  I just
alighted from the car, and started walking away, but both passengers
and driver started calling me back, ‘anti no vex na, no be fight’. I
came back and said to them, ‘I am not sitting there and be sandwiched
in that space; besides it is not okay to overload the car’. Driver
said, ‘I will not carry another passenger again, no problem anti enter
let’s go’. I got back in the car and onward we went.


After 2 stops, oga driver asked me to come down. I asked if we have
arrived UTC, and he said ‘I no dey go dia, you go go across the road
and take a car going the opposite direction. It is only 50’.  But why
did you not tell me when I was entering your car that I will have to
take another car na?  Oga simply said ‘bring your money’ stretching
out his hand. I asked how much, he said 500. Wide eyed, I asked how my
fare is 500 when other passengers pay 200. He said because you sat in
the front alone. Pissed, I asked how sitting in the front seat alone
means I pay about 150% higher than every other passenger.

The other passengers quickly took sides with the driver and urged me to pay him
so they can continue their journey. I looked at them, bemused,
flustered, and piqued at how full-grown adults will take sides with
someone who is wrong and insist the one who is right succumb to the
unjust and wrong demands of the wrong person just to make peace reign.
Grudgingly, I paid him and alighted from the cab, they continued their
journey while I crossed the road.  Despite my well fitted face mask, I
was immediately hit with the awful stench of urine.

Not surprisingly, a man was urinating some few meters from where I stood. I looked round
and saw the place was littered with urine for about 100 meters. I
walked the whole 100 meters just to escape the awful stench and began
to flag down cabs. UTC I would holler at the top of my voice, but they
would accelerate and veer off fast. Time was going, 10 minutes, 20,
minutes, tick-tock 40 minutes and the sun was blazing hot.
While standing there by the roadside flagging down cabs, I kept
thinking of how we love to drag the Government and blame it for every
social woe and failure disregarding the fact that a lot of the
problems we are experiencing today are our own direct responsibility.
What happened between myself, and the cab driver was a clear case of
extortion, and the sad thing about it is that the other passengers
that took his side just because they want to get to their destination
on time knew he was extorting me. But they didn’t care. This goes to
illustrate how social ills spread, if it does not directly affect us,
we continue to look the other way thereby enabling it to grow. That
was how every social chaos unraveling today started, with little acts
of oppression and injustices like the drama between myself and the cab
driver.


DROP I hollered at the next cab coming, and it stopped. I went close
and told the cab driver where I was going, and he said 500. Exhausted
and thirsty, I just jumped in and said let’s go. Less than a minute
later, we were at UTC. Bewildered, I turned to the driver ‘how can you
charge me 500 for such a distance’? I hollered.  He just looked at me
and said, ‘it’s not how much I charged you, it is the fact that I
saved you from being roasted in the sun’. I was stunned; another
extortion.


I went into the UTC section of Area 10, and the printers wanted to eat
me raw. Every printer is soliciting your attention, does not matter if
you are there to print or not, they will hound you. As I went about my
business around UTC, I kept thinking and wondering how such a dirty,
disorganized, and unkempt place will be existing within the FCT. It is
truly a wonder to imagine such disorderliness, dirtiness and
disorganization would be happening right in the center of the federal
capital. I kept wondering at how we got it wrong as a society to live
this way. 2 hours later, I was done with my business at UTC and needed
to leave. Every car I flag down, does not even look at me twice after
hearing where I am headed. Not surprised, because the road is like a
death trap. Defeated, I opened my phone, logged unto the bolt app and
barely 5 minutes later I was on my way home. Even though I wish the
price was not as high as I saw displayed, it took me home. Plus, it
was way better than having to pay 1000 for 2 drops in unkempt, smelly
hot vehicles driven by mean, rude and unkind drivers.

Published by jiddare

Multimedia Journalist. Feminist Social Enterprenuer Anti PA Campaigner Publisher: www.sheroes.ng

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