The LASTMA and Driver Saga

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You might see me in Obalende on NTA news tonight sweating like a Sallah ram. You should be thankful its not that I’m involved in an accident or worse….

I have been taking public transport occasionally. It allows me to see a side of Lagos I usually miss in the air conditioned comfort of a private vehicle. Sometimes I am lucky to witness some funny and interesting scenes. I was planning on writing a memoir on my public transport ‘adventures’.  Today, I witnessed the Lagos version of Grand Theft Auto. Kinda wished I had done a Facebook live video but I was too caught up in the moment !


I entered a bus from Allen Roundabout Ikeja heading to Obalende. The bus stopped at 7up along the express to pick up more passengers. Two LASTMA ( Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) officers promptly accosted the driver and told him to get out of the vehicle. The driver ignores them asking what he has done wrong and guns the engine. One of them aggressively enters the front passenger seat throwing his body over the passengers seated and dragging the wheel with the driver. The bus swerves dangerously from right to left as the driver floors the accelerator and speeds off amidst screams of fear from the passengers. But our ordeal was just starting.

We drive on a nerve wracking high speed thundering down the express towards third mainland bridge. I’m seated at the rear and I look back to see Three vehicles chasing us sirens blaring as other vehicles clear a path to avoid been crushed in the mad chase. The driver and the officer keep dragging the wheel and the bus keeps swerving right and left among traffic. Some people in the bus are screaming for driver to stop as he narrowly misses running headlong into a trailer and swerves in front of another oncoming petrol tanker. My heart is banging against my ribcage as a thought flashes through my mind, ‘Asake you were seeking cheap thrills by entering public transport how you like it now ?’ A silent scream of ‘Jesus’ escapes my suddenly parched lips. Today is not the day I will die I declare to the heavens.

A young man in front of me makes a phonecall, ‘Mummy I’m in trouble please pray for me, we are being chased on third mainland bridge and the driver is refusing to stop!’

The woman beside me is hysterical and beside herself with terror. I think she has peed in her pants as she alternates between begging the driver to stop and praying loudly ‘I will not die ! Have mercy father Lord ! The road will not drink our blood today ! Father Lord my daughter ! I want to see my child again!

Save me Jesus! have mercy on my soul ! I don’t want to die !’

The bizarre scenario draws a bubble of nervous mirth from my throat…I hold my laughter lest the passengers think Im off my rockers. As if God heard the woman’s prayers the bus slows down to a halt in the middle of 3rd mainland bridge. What happen ?

Fuel don finish. The bubble in my throat explodes into full hysterical laughter. Everyone clambers out of the vehicle as one of the Lastma vehicles halts in front of the bus blocking it off like some scene from ‘Police Interceptors’ on Sony Max ! The driver and the resident lastma official continue their tussle as the conductor hurriedly refills the tank. Some passengers challenge the officials chasing us for risking our lives in such manner.
The bus driver reverses and roars off tires screeching and the lastma officials continue the chase leaving us stranded on third mainland bridge. I look down at the water silently thanking God for my strong swimming skills and mentally locating the nearest boat. Random cars stop and pick up passengers and I got into one heading to Obalende.

This video is the scene I met at Obalende. MOPOL, Police, Lagos Island area boys on the scene. like an exhausted old woman, the bus engine had given up and the bus had stalled on the slope from the bridge blocking traffic. The scene was chaotic. The lastma official has a swollen face and bloody nose. The driver has entwined his limbs to the wheel of his bus saying ‘Kill me but you will not take my vehicle’ I bring out my phone and start recording, one female officer grabs my hand and tries to pry my phone from my fingers. Area boys rally round, ‘Leave am make e record, no collect her phone, madam leave am jor !’

Seeing she is outnumbered she backs down and I continue recording.

A mopol officer cocks his gun and threatens to blow away the drivers leg, police drag him on the floor, the crowd raises hell, ‘Never ! lai lai ! Leave am !

Wetin he do !’ One area boy steps infront of gun saying, ‘Shoot me and see if the bullet no go reverse !’ The crowd hails him ! The driver gets up and resumes his position by his wheel. The officers seeing they are outnumbered by an increasingly irate crowd allow him.

NTA TV arrives at the scene and I leave to continue on my journey. I look back and I am being chased by an observer who heard me saying I was in the bus.

‘Fine girl no go yet abeg, come and talk to NTA, Lastma is saying the driver pass one way !’ So I ended up being interviewed by NTA and I gave my side of the story.

So there you have it. God is definitely listening to my mother’s prayers because we had so many close calls while we were being chased by Lastma, it could have been a different story. The driver was ready to die rather than give up his bus because he didnt do anything wrong.

When the system that is supposed to protect you is harrasing you, you will rather die fighting. People are frustrated. #EkoOniBaje o

words from Asake Agoro

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