Thursday, July 19, 2007

The road to Jos

A friend has just returned from Jos. He was unfortunate to have taken the new road. No one takes the new road to Jos, unless they are mad or they enjoy contributing to someone else's corruption. The new road gets you there theoretically 15 minutes earlier than the old road. Trouble is, in the little bit of Kaduna State you have to go through on the old road, the VIO are waiting. The VIO is the Vehicle Inspectorate Office. They make money at this spot by finding vehicle 'particulars' that you don't have, and then selling the forms to you for several thousand naira. They make the trip to Jos along the new road an utter misery, which is a shame, as Jos makes a pleasant getaway from the capital.

My friend has a new car, which has every possible bit of paper these people need to see. However, they have a way of extracting money even in this situation: they force you to buy the Nigerian Highway Code (yep, there is such a thing) - for N2k. After some futile discussion on the way there, my mate paid the money for the useless pamphlet, and made his way. On the way back to Abuja the next day, a new set of VIO vultures were lurking. The same old rent-seeking routine began. However, the time was close to 3pm - finishing time for these hard-working soldiers of truth and good conscience. The decided to leave with all the photocopied papers from the car - and the Nigerian Highway Code he'd bought the previous day. Nice bit of recycling that.

Here are some tips on driving in Nigeria by an expat. It rings true to my experience.


Afolabi 2:10 am  

hey, what do you do in know so much and you've been to more places than I've been to.

Through these eyes 3:31 am  

Hey just wanted to drop by and say hello. Hope all is well with you and yours.

יש (Yosh) 10:47 am  

The one on each interstate is to be expected.

There's a war of attrition on every major road in Abuja between the VIO-FRSC-MoPol-Dudus Vs. every 2- to 4-wheelers out there. Only the strong survive and the smarts prevail...

Anonymous,  4:09 pm  

hilarious account and very true! What is it about Nigerians that they can't follow rules, even if it is for the safety of everyone? Does anyone even obey traffic light?

Akin 3:44 pm  

Another road to Jos?

I remember a journey from Kaduna to Jos in 1972 when the road was a dirt road to nowhere.

We got to a bridge which really looked like a lady's dirty wrapper draped over a wide gap with water flowing over it.

I really felt we should turn back at that point but my father's friend who was the driver drove over it as it took forever to cross and we felt every sway of that bridge as if we were going to be washed away.

The trip took the best part of 7 hours then, a few years after, a decent road was built that cut the journey down to just over 3 hours.

Some events just get etched in your memory, I was just over 6 then.

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