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I’ve put together a bunch of amusing travel experiences on this platform for some months now and I must say, it has been an exciting journey since I published my first post.
Today however, I want to discuss Lagos Taxis and all you need to know about them.
In Lagos state, most commuters do not own private vehicles and for this reason, they depend on public transportation services such as Okada, Keke Napep, Danfo or BRTs. Others prefer private companies like Uber, Bolt (formerly Taxify) and Oga Taxi etc.
Over the years, taxis have become a dominant transit system for the public, they make moving around the energetic Mega-city seamless.
Rewind to some weeks ago, I was in Ikorodu, a suburb in Lagos and decided to flag down an “unmarked taxi”. I confirmed the driver was heading to my address, boarded the vehicle and waited for other passengers, I was the first person.
Are you ready for this?
#1 The taxis travel the main roads in all parts of Lagos and you can hail them from the roadside.
#2 Despite the efforts of Lagos state to affirm control over taxis, many of them remain unmarked. The government enforced a serial number system and colour scheme.
#3 Always give the taxi driver an accurate and complete address.
Traffic was minimal so I didn’t worry too much about time, I had extra cash on me and would have hired him just for myself if I needed to. It took a while but soon we were four in the vehicle, two passengers were stuffed in the front seat and two at the back.
#4 It’s expensive to hire taxis and even if it saves time, price haggling is advisable. Don’t be afraid to haggle prices.
#5 In some areas, greedy drivers insist on having two passengers at the front seat.
We were seated in the rickety taxi, interior was unclean and time was ticking. All this for one passenger!
After a relentless effort, the driver got in and we commenced the journey with an empty seat. I felt every bump and it was very unpleasant.
#6 If you can, ignore rickety cabs.
Arriving at the next bus stop, he tried to gesture passengers to board the vehicle then luck struck when he saw a woman going in the same direction. Plot twist, she was patiently waiting in another cab for commuters, she alighted and boarded ours after a lengthy price negotiation (haggling) with the driver.
We were set to go, no further distractions or unnecessary stops but one man wasn’t happy about this. The driver of the other taxi was outraged, in his view, his passenger was just stolen from him. He confronted our driver who wasn’t aware of his presence at first.
“Why did you take my passenger?!”, he said. Our driver waited as the man continued with his rant, saying things beyond my comprehension in yoruba. I was calm and observing the situation. From the look of things our driver was wrong, he shouldn’t have gotten involved with another man’s fare but still, the woman wasn’t forced, she willingly boarded our taxi.
Things escalated when he bit his slippers and started swearing that our taxi won’t leave, he was probably “high on something” to be acting this way. He also got a sharpened stick and threatened to burst one of the tires.
After all said and done the delirious man requested for 50 Naira! To make things worse our driver refused his offer.
#7 Never get involved in fights between drivers or commuters.
The money was equivalent to one passenger but our driver wasn’t having any of his violent attitude. He laughed and they started insulting each other.
The funny thing is, they were supposed to be friends, our driver arrogantly brought out a 40 Naira bill but still refused to settle and after a while, he speedingly drove off while laughing at his embattled friend.
On a serious note, they both wasted our time, I lost nothing because I wasn’t in a hurry.
We covered reasonable distance when a Fast and Furious scene flashed before our eyes. The enraged driver followed us, he made it known by dangerously tee boning us.
We were blocked!
Our driver was smart enough to avert danger, he hit the brakes immediately and saved us from a crash. I was surprised on how the other driver behaved all because of a small fee and argument, he didn’t care for the number of lives at risk.
Things got a bit confusing and shambolic. This was madness!
#8 Many taxi drivers are out-of-their-mind when it comes to driving, they are reckless drivers.
For each time our driver tried to move forward, the other reversed futher to create a blockage. I couldn’t understand what was going on between the both of them. Apparently, they didn’t care that some passengers had somewhere they needed to be. He was very drunk and reckless.
He came down and started his jeering again.
I wanted them to resolve this dispute here, once and for all. A driver capable of this could ram us off the road if he was ignored again. They started hurling insults at each other and a frustrated passenger alighted the vehicle and started trekking to her destination.
#9 If any activity or quarrel appears to dissipate your time, alight the vehicle and flag down another taxi immediately.
It doesn’t make any sense that any of us had to go through a hectic experience because of a simple misunderstanding. They continued hurling insults at each other as they went their separate ways, we continued our journey shortly.
Throughout the ride, I constantly looked back to ensure this guy didn’t pull a Vin Diesel on us. I informed the driver when I arrived my stop. It was a chaotic taxi ride and the day 50 Naira almost got me killed.
#10 Always inform the driver when you reach your stop, don’t be so confident you told him earlier, he might forget.
The black and yellow cabs are well patronised by road users in Lagos State but since the proliferation of transport network companies, Uber, Oga Taxi, Bolt and Metro Taxi business has been “slow” for the Lagos taxi drivers.
The companies offer economical tailored services and even when it’s more expensive than other forms of public transit, Lagosians utilise them because it’s safer and faster.
Perhaps if taxi drivers improve their services and have the comfort of their passengers in mind their means of income would thrive once more.
Are you a fan of Lagos Taxis?
Share your experience and let me know what you think of my writeup in the comments below.