The Bus Ride from Hell
I was eager to travel to Lagos via road despite my mother’s warning to stay safe and take a flight. The sense of adventure within told me to try out a new experience in West Africa. The MEAXLDS conference had come to a conclusion and many AIESECers were taking buses in different directions. The cost of the bus ticket was 8500 Naira. What could go wrong?
The bus almost left me, I had to wave it down for them to stop and open up. In Nigeria, they call transport vans ‘’buses’’ which I found odd but nevertheless I had to keep on moving. Olawiyola and Musa were my travel companions and loyal AIESECers while embarking on this journey. Thankfully, Olawiyola saved me a seat at the back, bought me some jollof rice.
We stopped in Kogi State, people took this opportunity to buy snacks and drinks. I got to experience the spicy tastes of Kilishi (dried meat) and Ekwaja (dried fish). Nigerians have a habit of putting very strong spices on their food. Back on the road once more, it got more uncomfortable to sleep. People were carrying their luggage around with them, loud sounds of different voices sparking up from all sections of the bus. There was a man blasting his music out in the open. The sound he blared was competing with the buses TV which was playing a Nigerian film.
The issue began with the driver. He was driving at an average speed of 120 km per hour; overtaking cars with dangerous turns and twists. He kept skipping over bumps and dragging the vehicle into large potholes. Having such a driver on the wheel made many people uneasy and anxious. He would skip past police posts and didn’t stop the ride for anyone to stretch their legs. We’d been driving for almost 7 hours and the driver refused to stop the bus for bathroom breaks because he hoped to get to Lagos as soon as possible. This kind of uncouth mania is what led to the horrific happenings that were about to occur.
Our driver opted to drive on the opposite side of the road. This was merely of the many mistakes that happened. I was half asleep but woke up just in time to catch a glimpse of a man on a motorcycle right in front of us. All things began to move in a slow motion. Death was distinctly pranced on our doorstep; we were dancing with the devil. I was too flabbergasted to move; my body was frozen in this horrific period of time. The next thing I knew, a loud crash and bang echoed violently in the air. The wind screen was shattered. I genuinely believed that the motorist had died and began to hyper ventilate profusely.
A fellow passenger told me to calm down while we hurriedly got off the bus. As soon as I took a step outward, a car travelling at 100 km per hour passed right in front of us, it all felt so unreal. The babies at the front started crying which made the situation much worse. The atmosphere increased with tension as pieces of the motorbike were repeatedly stepped over by oncoming vehicles. Babies crying and passengers shouting at the top of their lungs made my body start to shiver. The car’s left side was completely annihilated. The motorbike was shot to hell; it was written off straight away.
A random group of village men came out of nowhere. Mob justice at its finest; they were screaming loudly in Yoruba crowding the injured man and holding sticks in preparation to beat the driver mercilessly. An intensity of anger and disgust clouded the accident scene. No one knew what would happen next but I was hoping and praying the motorist wasn’t dead. The mob started getting aggressive with us. They told us to remove our bags from the vehicle, I thought they would steal our suitcases. At this point, all one can do is pray for the best. I saw a bloody figure covered in pieces of broken glass stuck to his head emerge from the centre of the mob. Blood and dust covered his body. He walked out of there with a limp, like a real life nightmare. Only God knew how this man had survived.
Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) came ten minutes after the accident and calmed the mob down. The injured man was taken to the hospital. While this was happening on the opposite side of the road, a lorry’s tires burst and we could hear the sounds of the tire explosion, it began to overturn and roll into a nearby ditch. The FRSC told all passengers to enter the bus and drove us swiftly to their station which was a luckily a minutes away. They arrested the driver and as passengers we were all shaken. The babies had erased it from their memory as babies swiftly do but every time I closed my eyes, I could see the man being blasted into kingdom come in the window of my memory. Musa and Olawiyola were both silent as they too recollected on what had just happened, it was still very unbelievable and fresh to us. A day we’ll never forget.
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