Less than two weeks ago Nigerians were gripped with the chilling gossip that one of the mass transit buses, popularly known as BRT, operated by Lagos State Government, had plunged into the Lagos Lagoon; and as a result, all passengers on board had perished in the water.
It was at the height of the increasing permeation of the unfortunate tale which had gone crazy on social media and in some mainstream news outlets that the Federal Road Safety Commission, on whose Twitter handle information about the accident was served to the public, claimed that its Twitter account had been compromised by surly hackers which used its twitter account to distract the public peace by posting the frightening rumour by twitter.
Similarly, Lagos State, through its emergency service, also stepped forward to allay the fears of Lagosians and confirmed that the report was a false alarm; that no BRT bus fell into the Lagos lagoon.
To me, having travelled across many places in the country in recent times and witnessed, first-hand, the recklessness on the side of the government as well as everyday Nigerians; and also marveled by some Nigerian's callous approach to fellow humans, I have never doubted the possibility of a bus falling directly into the lagoon or swerving into someone else's bedroom by highly careless reasons.
I was in the gathering of some friends when news of the bus broke I immediately expressed my disgust and said "that would be so sad; maybe the driver was under the influence of alcohol or he is driving a vehicle whose brake pedal is almost completely gone." Opinions were divided amongst my friends: some said the description I gave was that of Nigeria, or Lagos, I left many years ago while a few of them thought I was right that the government should do more to curb the misconduct of the commercial motorists, either government-managed or privately-run.
Shockingly, last week Friday, 30th November 2012, just four days after the rumour of bus crash that rented the air, two of my friends and I (those who thought my opinion on the motorists was antiquated) were on our way to the Island from Gbagada. As we got on the newly repaired part of the Third Mainland Bridge, right on the Lagos Lagoon, just few metres away from the section of the bridge that overlooks University of Lagos Lagoon Front, my friend hit me by the shoulder and screamed, "Lekan, Lekan see the tyre of the commuter vehicle driving by our side."
What we saw was just unbelievable. It was a white-painted commercial vehicle, TATA bus, (not BRT) with Lagos number plate XZ 353-GGE. The bus was filled with at least 50 commuters with some standing. The vehicle was doing at least 70 mph, and its driver was driving with one hand on the steering while using the other hand to hold a bottle of what looks like an alcoholic beverage at 10:45 in the morning!
And wait for the final shock, the death-loving driver had two empty plastic bottles of soda drinks (one of Lacasera and possibly Feyrouz) stuck on the vehicle rims to fasten two of the screws to the tyre on the driver's side! With this instance, and if it continues unabated, it is just a matter of time before many buses will start plunging into the Lagos lagoon. Yes, God forbid as we are used to say; but am sure God would also require us to have some preventive measures.
This is no-brainer, any responsible government can nip this dreadful occurrence in the bud to avoid an inevitable calamity in the country, and it is even much cheaper to create a solid structure, with the millions of mobile technology tools in people's hands nowadays, to encourage the public to report such situations that threaten their lives and peace to the appropriate authority in Lagos.
I am sure that with the detailed information provided of the dare-devil commercial bus exploit and photographs taken, it should help the Lagos state transportation authorities to track the bus operator down in Lagos, appropriate measures should be taken to serve as a deterrent to other ruthless drivers - both commercial and private – and to press home a point that the public is keeping a close watch on them now.