Officials say the [new Lagos State traffic] laws coming into force are necessary to curb the chaos. But critics warn that traffic wardens and police who already are known to force their way into cars to extort bribes will use the new, loosely worded laws to extract even larger sums. [...]
The critics say the new law will target some of the poorest on the roadway — the motorcycle taxi drivers known as “okada” after a now-defunct airline, either for the their speed or for the smoke they spew, depending on whom you ask. [...]
The new laws would ban okada riders from 11 highways, 41 bridges and more than 3,000 roads, according to information released by the state, and some believe it is an attempt to force the riders out of the already overcrowded city.
I’ve found that I’m able to avoid most traffic jams in Lagos by organizing my day strategically against rush hour, but that has not eliminated the hassle and expense of travel. Due to an enduring fear of motorbikes, I spend much of my day searching for taxis. When I ask Lagosians the best place to walk to find one, they are pained. “They take too much money. Take a bike to that roundabout, then take a bus,” they advise. It’s an unusual moment when this happens. People who think I have so much money still can’t bare to let me waste so much on a taxi.
It’s hard to say what part of transportation is the most unpleasant. Perhaps the cost; each taxi ride is between $4 and $12. Perhaps the search for a taxi when departing a destination with small roads. Perhaps the exhaust I breathe in while waiting. Perhaps the speed. Perhaps the fear from so many close calls with motorbikes.
There is a breaking point visible on the horizon where I will swallow the extraordinary (from graduate student perspective) expense of paying for a car and driver for the day.