Drama at a Lagos Bus Stop: It is a real "sufferin 'n' Smilin"

Welcome to Lagos,real home of "sufferin and smilin" a place where thugs collect dues on the roads to make ends meet and it is legal!

He called out..and shouted in the familiar hoarse voices. .. Ikeja!!! Maryland!!! Onipanu!!!  Mechanically motioning passersby to his side of the yellow bus. With enthusiasm and speed of Tiger. He darted from one side of the road to other, sometimes walking briskly, something limping in excitement as if stung by bee in buttock, and sometimes running to meet someone descending from another bus to ask of his or her next destination.. Despise this aggressive motions and disturbances, he was very polite and cheerfully going about his daily job.

An elderly woman trying to cross the road with a bag on her head was suddenly jolted as he rushed to her side of the road. He collected her bag without waiting for her request. They were actually two, trying to "lend a hand" to the old woman and competed for her attention, but my man won the "battle." Politely, yet aggressively helping the old woman to cross the busy road. And in one agile moment, he led her to his side of the bus and ensure she was comfortably seated before he darted away to get another passenger. I saw the woman nodding affirmatively when he asked if she was going to Ikeja few minutes later. My man has first gotten the old woman into his bus before even asking where she was going! Not so lucky with another, a man.. he was heading to Ojota. Disappointed, yet Undaunted, my man led him to the Ojota bus, he still move on with his task of getting his bus filled.

Meanwhile, the driver was getting impatient. .The bus was only half filled and passengers are fidgeting. It is Lagos way...a state built on rush and impatient culture that have turned its roads into nightmare of traffic gridlock and chaos. We are all guilty. I was about leaving too, as i was running late. It was 9.pm plus on a Friday night and i needed to rest my back, take my dinner and attend to something else on my laptop before surrendering to nature's call.

But the other side of me wouldn't leave. So i stayed. . After few more minutes of watching the drama at the bus stop as conductors compete fiercely to load their bus; and of course,  not forgetting the street hawkers in various trading and the beggars, ( they are sight to behold any day) the driver finally decided to move and we all heaved sign of relief, it was not full still but the drivers call off the conductor.

Just as the bus was about to glide its way to the now less busy road, a terrible looking man with fiery eyes suddenly appeared from nowhere. "Give me my money, give my money." He was pushing and shoving the bus conductor. Who was repeating the same thing.. "ko s'ero. (the bus is not full .. 
"kilo kan mi, fun mi l'owo mi joor" (what is my business with that, give me my money..) the man replied brandishing his fist as if he would punch his face any moment. He is an Agbero! 

A short struggle ensued with the Agbero pushing the conductor and dragged him down the bus. Both struggling for the money in the conductor's hand, which he was very reluctant to part with. The driver just sat there like someone who is unaware of the trouble his boy is passing through.

Someone joined the duo and like a gentleman, he sided with the Agbero. "Give him his money," he told the conductor. But the conductor was still repeating same thing and even urging them to peep into the bus and confirm his words (as if they are blind) . They appeared not to hear or just not interested in whatever he was saying.

All of a sudden, a slap landed on his left ear. It was from the supposed "gentleman," the second man. He was dressed in jeans and look like the boss. Surprisingly he remained calm despite the effect of the action and repeated coolly, "give him his money." Before the conductor could say jack, a punch had landed on his chest, this time, from the first Agbero. And he decided to retaliate by hitting back.

"O lu mi, emi emi"  (you hit me),  who are you? (thumping his chest repeatedly ) Before he finish his talking, or even get his message across he has landed multiple blows on the hapless conductor who now desperately clutch to him to avoid further assault. The Agbero keeps repeating, give me my money and the conductor was of course, unwilling to part with it. Then a slap on his buttock and then a kick gboa! gboa!! by the second man who earlier slap him from behind. When he attempted to look back, the agbero would hit him in front.

I could see the conductor was no match for the two and the pain was obvious. The driver tried to play a fast one by jerking the car into sudden motion and the conductor quickly free himself from his assailants and catch the bus. But the Agberos were as quick and joined him. They pulled him out and dealt him further blows.

Then.., the conductor, probably, finally gave up and pulled out 50 naira out of the money he clutched tightly in his hand. Gba., there is your money... the Agbero landed him another punch.. "emi lo fun ni 50 naira?  Oloriburuku.. " (you want to give me 50 naira? you are unfortunate! ) as he made to kick him again, the conductor then released additional 50 naira.

He was freed and the Agberos helped him straighten up while the first one gave him a hug! "this is what you should have done," he said like a real friend. Then even asked him to wait and called in more passengers to join his bus. Two additional passengers join courtesy of the Agbero's efforts.

The bus finally move while the conductor was busy rubbing his chin and the part of the ear where he had received slap..I asked myself, is this worth it? All for 100 naira?

I watched him with concealed  empathy. He was even smiling!  I couldn't hear what he said to the "gentle" Agbero or the later's reply that made him smile despite the torture he received from their hands. I sat quietly pondering over this incidence.

Not that it is new, anyone living in Lagos would have seen this everyday, everywhere. . They cause traffic holdups and created scenes on major roads...

The Agberos and their right of way.. Surprisingly,  it seems to be the law. You must pay them and they have kind of believe that it is their right to collect your money each time you load/drop passengers from your bus at a bus stop. There are unions, there Agberos and their are local council dues collectors. Even if you are not in the yellow bus, your car would still got stuck once in a while.

Welcome to Lagos,real home of "sufferin and smiling... "a place where thugs collect dues on the roads to make ends meet and it is legal! 

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