Travelling through Nigeria by road is perhaps not as arduous as painted by newspapers or is it? Do people really get robbed with sophisticated weapons, do you have random trailers/lorries just fall over on the roads and on moving cars in some cases? I mean can you have moving fuel tankers go up in flames for no apparent reason? You will never really find out until you give it a try will you?
The opportunity came through a Nigerian based NGO. We(a team of 10people) were sent to do some research and gather data in the most impoverished parts of the oil rich niger-delta states of Edo, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers states. It was a malaria related research and the aim was to gather sufficient data to influence a drive by government and private bodies to invest in modern day malaria medicine for impoverished and at risk populations of the Delta.
Plying Nigerian Roads aren’t an epic journey through desert dunes to the end of Great Walls, or a smooth drive through lengthy paved roads. Rather it is more of a bumpy ride through poorly paved roads backed by loads of curses directed at the government.
You also don’t ply through endless scores of restaurants and breath taking landscape. Okay maybe you do find some breath taking landscape but they are mainly underdeveloped.
It took 8hours to get from the North-Central(Abuja) to the South-South (Niger-Delta region) and boy was I surprised at the rate of development going on. Okay many of the roads are still not as good as european roads, there are still loads of pot holes everywhere but at least we can see tractors & construction tools parked on the sides of the roads, that’s a good sign isn’t it? Lol!
Now to the juicy part….. …….. ….. ..
We set back to Abuja from Bayelsa on a thursday at about 10am instead of the usual 5am road trips we(Nigerians) usually embark on. So we went through the usual bad roads and ended up getting to gwagwalada (Abuja satellite town) at about 9:30pm.
We ran into a huge pile of traffic and stayed there for about 20minutes. Bored and angry we kept on moaning and chatting about random stuff in the van then we suddenly noticed cars trying to turn back around. This was a bad sign, panic written on our drivers face. He decided to join in with the other cars attempting to turn around- he screamed out the window ‘Wetin they happen’? Somebody screamed back, Robbers, them dei rob for front (Robbers are robbing ahead).
I almost had a heart attack in my seat. Apart from nightmares of being stuck in a pit with snakes my other worst fear is being attacked by evil men of the underworld (hehehe). Somewhere in between the hullabaloo I managed to splurt out ‘Oga what if we are actually running into another set of robbers’?
He responded ‘should we wait’? I retorted ‘I don’t know ooo’. He turned anyway and we ran into another jam. A cluster of impatient drivers trying to run off was building, we were all stuck.
Then we heard sirens (all the time my heart was in my mouth).. I blurted out YES! YES! Contrary to all the stories told about the notoriously useless Nigerian Police force they had come to our rescue.
Yes! Yes! They didn’t come after we had all been robbed, they came to actually save us. Yes! Yes! Yes!
We sorta lived happily ever after 😉 😉
I sort of came to the conclusion that to embark on a Nigerian Road trip is to be prepared for everything- because nothing written here can prepare you for the reality….
Wishing everyone a wonderful end to the year.