SURVIVING COVID-19: SHOULD YOU BE IN LAGOS TRAFFIC RIGHT NOW?

Mile 12, Maryland, Onipanu!

Ronke turned to the man in the passenger seat beside her. Like her, the man was wearing a face mask and had on plastic gloves.

Back outside on the street, crowds converged at bus parks and left physical distancing to chance. This could be a real catastrophe, Ronke thought as she arrived at her workplace moments later.

Since Nigeria’s index case of Covid-19 was detected in February, Lagos has continued to lead the pack of infections across the nation.

And while the Federal Government’s gradual easement of the lockdown in Abuja, Ogun and Lagos on Monday, May 4th was criticised by few, many Nigerians actually applauded this action.

Following the lockdown relaxation, Governor of Lagos state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced a set of new transport guidelines to prevent community spread in the country’s commercial capital and most populous city.

Let’s get to it.

New Transport Guidelines in Lagos

Motorists are expected to take these basic precautionary measures seriously to avoid any encounter with special forces.

#1. Compulsory 60% Passenger Capacity

Speaking with my friend, Ese on Wednesday, she mentioned that transport fares hiked up because of this directive.

Across the state, BRTs currently convey twenty-one passengers and each person is expected to leave his next seat empty. And public yellow buses (danfo) now allow ten persons, some eight.

Related Article: WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT LAGOS BRT

Also, mini buses have seven as opposed to the regular ten while Keke Napeps (tricycles) and taxi operators slashed theirs to two and three passengers respectively.

 

#2. No Standing in Public Buses

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Lagos Bus Services Ltd (LBSL) are taking safety to the next level by observing a no-standing order.

This has made commuters waiting at bus terminals to quadruple over the past week.

#3. No Air Conditioning

Because sneezing or coughing in a confined space can increase risk of community spread, this directive is worthy of commendation.

Drivers are advised to switch off air conditioning systems and leave windows open while in transit. You know, that way the breeze vacuums lethal or non lethal droplets.

#4. Mandatory Use of Wash Basins or Hand Sanitizers at Bus Parks

With new videos surfacing on the internet everyday, you may have seen danfo conductors and other public bus staff providing handwashing equipment or alcohol-based sanitizers to passengers.

Everyone is encouraged to wash or sanitize their hands before and after trips and avoid touching surfaces.

Washing Of Hands. Photo Credit. BBC

#5. Indefinite Suspension of Okada

Like I said in this article, Lagos authorities restricted the access of Okada (motorcycles) from certain highways and neighbourhoods across the city.

But presently, this directive was stretched to stop Okada operations in the entirety of the state.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, while briefing the media affirmed that the use of motorcycles for commercial activities would not support the physical distancing rule as directed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Additional Measures

In addition to curtailing the spread of Covid-19 via public transit, an eight p.m. to six a.m. curfew is enforced as well as a complete ban on interstate travels.

Agric BRT Terminal

Water transport operators aren’t allowed to work beyond six p.m., ferries can only operate after disinfecting their boats and waterways users have to wear a face mask.

To downsize travellers on Lagos roads, places of worship, schools and hotels are ordered to remain closed until further notice.

Markets where non-food items are sold will open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while food and farm produce sellers will open on the remaining days apart from Sundays.

So, should you really be in Lagos traffic right now?

Ahem, this is a tricky one. But before I can make my personal opinion understandable, I’ll like to take a look back at this past week when the lockdown order was initially relaxed.

#EasingTheLockdown

Monday. Workers trooped out in large groups to recoup their losses after the 5-week lockdown and banks observed a record number of customers.

Crowd At GT Bank, Ikorodu. Photo Credit. technext

On the streets, public buses could hardly measure up to the commuters waiting at parks.

Motorists flooded Third Mainland Bridge and security personnel at Berger, the border town between Ogun and Lagos had their hands full even though an interstate travel ban was on.

At dusk, number of confirmed cases in the country increased by 245 new patients, Lagos had 1,183 cases of Coronavirus.

Tuesday. As gridlock continued to rise across Lagos, the Presidential Task Force complained of low levels of compliance with guidelines.

Banking premises had crowds ignoring social distancing rules. And the Police relocated checkpoints at Berger to restrict motorists entry into the state.

To avert a sudden spike, residents were advised to conform to the new norms but after eight p.m., private car owners and commercial transporters reportedly breached the curfew.

 

Irrespective of the difficulties, there was good news at the Yaba, Eti-Osa and Ibeju-Lekki Lagos Isolation Centres, a total of 60 patients got discharged.

Wednesday. Earlier today, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde expressed his displeasure over the low compliance of post-lockdown advisories.

The Police arrested over a hundred violators who were either curfew defaulters or persons without a face mask and banks continued to struggle with customer demands.

Commuters were seen ignoring physical distancing guidelines and many had their hands on railings at bus stations while others stood next to each other!

195 new cases were reported nationwide and numbers in Lagos summed up to 1,308.

By evening, investigators found security operatives collecting kickbacks from motorists at Jibowu and Berger.

Blockade At Berger, Lagos. Photo Credit. pmnewsnigeria

Thursday. 37 patients were discharged today but it wasn’t all great news as 10 persons in the Marina State House tested positive.

It was also the second time in the week that food sellers opened their stores, and there was a bit more adherence to physical distancing.

At the daily briefing in Abuja, the National Coordinator, Mr Sani Aliyu warned of a fresh lockdown because of an increase in violations. He said, “the gains of the lockdown may be destroyed if we continue to disregard these guidelines.”

Friday. NCDC published new guidelines for business operations.

Women Selling Protective Equipment. Photo Credit. Humangle

In Lagos, 253 voluntary returnees from UK arrived at Murtala Mohammed Airport before a subsequent flight to Abuja.

Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi issued an alarming forecast by the Lagos state government. He said that cases may rise to 120,000 by July.

At dusk, 386 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the country. Lagos accounted for 176 and this brought the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 1,667.

Final Thoughts

No doubt, security operatives have had their hands full since the calling off of the lockdown. Arrests. Vehicles impounded. Traffic control. It’s hectic!

As a densely populated city, it’s really scary that some persons have chosen to blatantly ignore these safety guidelines.

Also, crowding at public buildings and bus parks may cause a sudden increase in number of cases. In fact, it’s very likely that this happens in two weeks or less.

Crowd At A BRT Terminal. Photo Credit. Twitter

And while putting on face masks is already a habit for many, someone needs to tell Lagosians that leaving their face mask to dangle on their chin isn’t best for anyone.


To arrive at a reasonable conclusion, it’s important you know that Nigeria isn’t the first to relax its lockdown. This has been executed in China, Italy and Spain.

However, these countries all have one thing in common, authorities had to wait for the pandemic to ‘peak’ before slowly allowing people on the outside.

So, where has Lagos gone wrong?

Simple! We haven’t neared peak yet.

Even when the lockdown was in full swing, local health workers continued to record increasing number of cases and deaths from Covid-19 everyday.

 

Between Monday and Friday, Lagos had a steep 40.91% increase in confirmed cases and on Thursday, officials started recording three-digit figures and this hasn’t dropped since.

Governor Sanwo-Olu while briefing journalists on Saturday said, “The gradual easing of the lockdown is dependent upon the compliance of each and everyone of us… we may review the terms of this easing if there is no improvement in coming days.”

I think with the continuous disregard for physical distancing rules, it isn’t safe for anyone to be on the streets of Lagos this moment, traffic or no traffic. And that’s the painful truth.

Yes, I know people particularly low income earners need to eat and store supplies but I believe the government could have stepped up palliative services instead of rushing to ease.

Heck, everyone including business owners and households could use some form of aid.

Over to You!

If you found this article helpful or educative. Kindly share with friends, family or loved ones.

Lagos By Sunset. Photo Credit. Instagram

Do you agree with me or nah? I know many Lagosians work for someone else but if this was up to you, would you have stayed home? I’ll like you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Oops… don’t want to forget to say that you can join my peng social network on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And of course, I follow back.

Thanks in advance and cheers to many blissful days ahead.


Featured Image. @thattokelady

70 thoughts on “SURVIVING COVID-19: SHOULD YOU BE IN LAGOS TRAFFIC RIGHT NOW?

  1. If all the measures stated are adhered to, it would have been a different ball game.
    But I think most Nigerians are not friends with rules unless they are forced to comply with it even when it involves their safety.
    As for the easing of the lockdown, it would have been a welcoming idea if we had measures in place to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines stated.
    Over here in Akwa Ibom, using nose masks was declared compulsory but people still around without it. Even the vehicles that were given stipulated number of passengers to carry are not obeying.
    I boarded a tricycle last week, the man had one passenger already inside, as we moved, he wanted to pick another person, I told him they were instructed to go with two passengers at the back. The man laughed and said Corona cannot come here na.
    That’s how we live in complete denial of the reality that plaques us, these things are not to scare us but caution is also paramount in life.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The ignorance is even way scarier than the virus at this time as more and more Nigerians regardless of how “exposed” they’ve become just choose to disbelieve that Covid-19 exists in our society.
      The thing is, Public Transit is one of the fastest ways for infection rates to skyrocket and if operators/commuters do not adhere properly to guidelines, the country’s health sector may collapse in subsequent weeks!
      Thanks for airing your thoughts Esther, I hope things get better in Akwa Ibom.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. actually its a hard one. can the world stay somewhat locked down for 12 months? or longer? Waiting for a vaccine that may never come? people here are falling apart and protesting of all things. what will this world be when we emerge? We are just starting VERY basic moves from lockdown. people will be able to visit family and friends up to five people. but people dont social distance and in anticipation of relaxing of laws, they are flocking to shopping centres as of the weekend. we hold out breath and see what the next few months bring…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m quite surprised that this is going on in Australia.
      I know that even if the government is able to make provisions for every single citizen out there, it’ll be very difficult task to keep everyone indoors throughout this ‘unforseen’ process of recovery.
      In the UK, I think essential workers and construction workers are allowed on the streets but there’s a catch. Each one of them will have to avoid the use of public transport as much as they can.
      Commuting without care can be the real grooming ground for this disease. Afterall, it reached more countries on planes than not. I just do not want a situation where numbers quadruple because of carelessness.
      And yes Andy, let’s see what the next few months bring. I’m betting on a vaccine before the year runs out.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s really sad that so many people aren’t taking the guidelines seriously not only in Lagos but all over the world. My parents tell me it’s the same in Kenya and it’s like that in Canada too. I feel like if more people followed the rules the spreading would decrease.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes exactly people need to understand how dangerous this pandemic is. We need to all work together to stop the spread. It can only stop if we all work together.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. About Lagos: Great article, Emmanuel! Firstly, I am really sad to hear that there has been a sharp increase in the recorded case numbers in Nigeria following the easing of the lockdown measures. Secondly, although I understand that people themselves ought to be more respectful of and compliant with the government measures, I see this particular failure in containing the virus spread mostly down to poor decision-making. The lockdown hastily lifted with no prior preparations and changes that would make it possible for people to follow the issued guidelines. Transportation is an excellent example of how quickly and inevitably the government’s instructions crumble down in the streets and bus stations.

    About Cambodia: We are based in Siem Reap which is a small provincial city with no public transportation (this is true for Cambodia as a whole, I believe, with the exception of the capital city perhaps). The majority of locals and expats own their own motorcycle (although two or three people packed on one bike is a very common sight here). The schools have been closed for a couple of months already. Tourists are gone. Life in the tropics revolves vastly around open spaces: cafes and restaurants usually have outside sitting areas, a lot of homes come with a large courtyard where families gather for dinner. So, with no recorded cases in almost three weeks, we are slowly going back to ‘normal’. Cafes have re-opened albeit with new hygiene and social distancing measures in place. We have all relaxed a bit: hand shakes are back, people have rushed to gather in event venues as soon as they were given a chance. So, some reason for concern. Cambodia has been very lucky so far. We just hope our good luck does not run out.
    Thanks for sharing your article, Stay safe!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow! This is a lot to take in Leighton. Thanks for analysing the current Lagos situation from your perspective and that of Cambodia too.

      You must feel really lucky because there’s not too many countries that are returning back to ‘normal’ this moment. Haha, I want to come to Cambodia.

      In Lagos and the rest of Nigeria, I think the government feared that they couldn’t meet the demands of over 9 million Nigerians living in poverty hence the reopening.

      Whatever the case, it’s still wrong that so many people are flouting physical distancing orders particularly in Public Transit.

      I just hope this gets better. Or maybe health workers can make a vaccine before the year runs out… again, hopefully.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Wow! What an insightful post! I didn’t know it was like this in Nigeria. And it’s similar to whats happening in Jamaica. Physical distancing is only an action complied to in the middle and upper class communities in Kingston. Head anywhere downtown and its a figment of everyone’s imagination. Mask wearers wear their masks everywhere except where they are supposed to and curfews are just now being adhered to. Its not 100% perfect but its happening.

    I think the only reason we haven’t seen a spike is because we’re not being tested enough, but we also don’t have the infrastructure and capabilities to do all the testing we want to, so we just ask everyone to, as much as possible, stay home. Cross our fingers and hope for the best.

    I hope both Nigeria and Jamaica and all the other countries get the compliance they are looking for though, so we can get back to our lives

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to say a big Amen to that Vanessa, we’ve also got the same problem of testing capacity in Nigeria, even now, there’ve been rumours of short supply of testing equipment. And I really hope they aren’t true.

      It’s good that people have started complying to curfew measures, that’s a significant step to curbing the spread of infections.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Really nice post Emmanuel. I love how relatable it is. I went out on Friday, mehn I was on the road by 6am but if you see the traffic. A normal 40 mins journey took 2 hrs plus.

    Funny part, we didn’t see what caused the traffic and I remember my friends and I making jokes that Lagos traffic is “highly spiritual”. Lol

    http://www.giftcollins.com

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi, I can’t say because I don’t stay in lag is. But, if I am to give my opinion on this, I think to stay at my house while peacefully social distancing will be good for me. The stress and the high risk of getting the COVID 19. I will pass on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Eromonsele: I am so happy to see all that you do and know you are already blessed to be a blessing. I wanted to share a message the Lord had placed on my heart to help people who are fearful in the current situation. Please feel free to view and share it with anyone who needs encouragement:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great read! I must admit, I’m shocked at how few cases there are in Lagos considering the size of the population. I am in South Africa and the numbers here are well over 206k despite how spread out we are.

    Like

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