Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel Around Nigeria

AfricaNigeriaHow To Travel Around Nigeria

It is preferable to go in your own vehicle or a rented automobile (with a driver), although there are other means of transportation available. Nigeria’s road networks are rather inadequate in comparison to those of North America and Europe, although they are often passable. The “okada” (motorcycle) is not for the faint of heart (there used to be no helmets, but the rider is now obliged by law to wear two helmets for himself and a passenger) and should only be used for short distance trips. “Okadas” will get you to your destination fast and may even get you there in one piece. There are many buses and taxis in Lagos. The molue (an old 911 Mercedes Benz truck converted into a school-like bus) and the danfo are the two major kinds of buses (a Volkswagen Kombi bus turned into an eight-seater minibus). Most smaller cities have more cabs than buses, and they are quite inexpensive.

To go from one city to another, go to the “motor park,” select the taxi that will take you to your destination, and wait until it “fills up.” There is no need to haggle about the price. Some drivers may have a dangerous driving style, which implies that the only guideline that is constantly followed (by vehicles, not necessarily motorbikes) is staying to the right.

By car

Driving in Nigeria (particularly Lagos) is rather unusual, mirroring driving in Cairo in certain ways. However, if you master it, you should be able to function in the majority of the world’s nations. Or any other world.

The roads are in poor condition. Potholes of varying sizes are to be expected. Expect individuals to drive on the wrong side of the road in order to dodge potholes or just poor sections of road. Even when driving on the highway. The road will most likely be removed. Expect the unexpected.

Be cautious if you see grass or branches on the road; this indicates that there is a broken down vehicle ahead of you.

Get accustomed to Nigerians screaming at you as you pass by if you are white. If you’re white, it’ll be anything like “Oyibo,” “Oniocha,” “MBakara,” “Bature,” or “white guy.” They’re simply telling you what it all means.

Self-driving for short-term tourists unfamiliar with the roads, particularly in Lagos, is not recommended and may be very stupid, if not hazardous. With violence on the increase, you might easily end yourself in a neighborhood or a roadblock put up by local gangs. If you hire a vehicle, it will come with a driver who is acquainted with the region and driving style, which is a lot simpler and safer choice.

If you want to drive yourself as a foreigner, it is best to follow the rules, as you will be an easy target for poorly paid police officers looking for someone to “fine” (payable directly to the officer in cash without a ticket or receipt) for the most trivial reasons, such as not indicating your intention to drive straight. If you are pulled over, do not provide your license since you will lose all bargaining leverage when negotiating the fine, which may easily equal the sum of all visible cash on you at the moment. Carry a copy of your license and give it over, or display it through your window. Also, do not allow the cops to enter your vehicle. They are not very hazardous, but they may be costly and inconvenient. However, if you just do not pay and do not get upset, it only costs you time. They have no actual authority over you.

It is normal practice for cops, particularly in the wealthier parts of Lagos, to flag you down and wish you a good weekend/holiday/Christmas/Easter/sunny weather/trip to work, especially during weekends and festive seasons. In this instance, you did nothing wrong, and they do not plan to “fine” you; rather, they are pleading for a modest sum of money. They will ultimately let you go if you persistently but politely refuse to provide anything. Just wish them a happy weekend/holiday/whatever.

If you work for a major business in Nigeria, you will typically have a corporate driver who will drive you about, avoiding the aforementioned issues to a great degree. He can get you a local driver’s license if you don’t have a driving test or evidence of a foreign license.

Nigeria is not a member of the most common international road traffic conventions, so you will need a special International Driving Permit (valid only for driving in Nigeria, Somalia, and Iraq) (if you do not want to get a Nigerian license), rather than the standard one that is valid in almost every other country in the world.

When you arrive at a crossroads in a congested location, a swarm of street vendors surrounds your vehicle. However, if you keep the windows and doors closed, you should be OK.

Sanitation Day is observed on the last Saturday of each month in Lagos and Kano, when residents clean their surroundings. While it is not unlawful to be out on the street between 7:00AM and 10:00AM, most Nigerians prefer to limit their activities until after 10:00AM owing to the increased presence of police officers and road checkpoints. If you are found during this time, the police may send you away to do some “public cleanliness” task, such as mowing lawns, etc.

By train

Rail services in Nigeria are finally being rehabilitated after being abandoned for 30 years. Several new lines are scheduled to launch in the next years, aided by Chinese funding, while existing lines are being refurbished. While trains are still considerably slower than planes, they may now be used to travel across the nation. The Nigeria Railway Corporation is the only operator; however, this may change as the government considers liberalizing the railway industry.

Lagos currently has nearly daily links with cities in Nigeria’s interior, including Ilorin, Minna, and Kaduna, as well as a once-weekly sleeper service all the way north to Kano.

By plane

Arik, Virgin Nigeria and Aero Contractors have good scheduled domestic connections with modern aircraft to most significant destinations at reasonable prices. There websites are very user friendly and well updated.

Note that in Lagos, the two domestic terminals, while next to each other, are about 4-5 km (of road which would not be wise to walk if you don’t know the place) from the international terminal, and you would therefore need a taxi to get from the one to the other, should you wish to transfer from an international flight to a domestic one.