Why some Lagos workers should work remotely.
When you come to Lagos, the first experience you complain about is heavy traffic. I moved into an apartment in Lagos after having shocking experiences with some house agents. I remember one agent calling me on phone "Oga, I don see one better house wey you go like" says the agent. To my greatest surprise he took me to Mushin, to a building that seems as if I was going to visit a native doctor. Another one took me to a place and said "oga, shey you be IT guy, your type dey here (yahoo boys) you fit connect with them" I had to warn the agent to never call my line.
Finally got an apartment I was really happy with in an area called Anthony, after meeting a good agent. It's outrageous to pay some crazy fees that are not necessary apart from the house rent. Fees such as Agent fee, Agreement fee, Caution fee. Each of these fees is ten percent of the house rent. Initially I thought it was fraud because from my experience in Portharcourt, you just pay for rent only but I realized it was not. This is not fair but I had to settle with that since it was the norm in Lagos.
I was feeling happy to settle in my new apartment with water, light and good neighbors which I thought I will network with. Not knowing I was in for a great surprise. In my mind, I was thinking, "I have the smallest apartment with no car while every other person have a flashy car. I must be in the midst of my destiny helpers" what a subtle deception.
Some evenings, I go to a very big barbing salon which is close by. I usually watch football matches or learn Yoruba from the barbers. They taught me how to make sentences and some funny praises like "agbawo" , "baba agbalagba", "egbon" and many other funny words. One of the barbers is a Madrid fan and I became his customer. There is also a Barcelona fan with same height like Messi, very funny and knows how to dance. The owner of the salon is a military captain from the north who got married to a Yoruba woman. I got to know him and we became friends.
I can remember him saying to me while I was chatting in his shop "ya Kai, mu fita mana" which is in Hausa but means "how far, let us go out" It was around 9pm and we went to ikeja in his SUV jeep to an eatery called 'The place' I ate jollof rice with something I fell in love with called 'Asun' The captain told me the eatery runs 24hrs and I was surprised. An eatery running 24hrs? Who comes to eat at midnight? But lagosians do due to some circumstances.On our way back, he bought fuel from a filling station and paid with his ATM card because the had POS machine. It seemed to me every business in Lagos have this machine. We came back and he dropped me off then drove to his house which was nearby.
I never knew I will have ghost Neighbors because I never saw them for months.I normally come back by 5pm or 6 pm while my neighbors come from 10pm. It became a problem for me because I felt lonely sometimes.I only see their flashy cars coming into the compound late at night and leaving as early as 4am.
The only person I knew in the twin storey building was the security guard. On Saturdays, I mostly go for events/meet ups or maybe go to the island to visit some friends. I was once in Lekki, and I saw commutters coming from Ajah heading to iyana paja. It was already late at night and I believe they just closed from work. I took a bus to CMS and then an Uber taxi to my final destination. This I do for safety reasons. The distance between Ajah and iyana paja is really a long one, and people work in Ajah and live in iyana paja. Imagine the stress they go through every day while going to work and coming back coupled with the heavy traffic, and also the social deviant behavior of bus drivers and conductors which can drain your energy.
It felt like having a new contract when I met one of my neighbors at the gate after watching a match. This happened after six months of not knowing anyone in the compound. Let me call him Mr. A
Mr. A: How are you?
Me: I am fine sir
Mr. A: I believe you are the one that stays downstairs next to Mr. B
Me: Yes sir.
We talked for a while but this is the point of interest;
Me: You are the first Neigbor I am getting to know after a long while. I don't get to see anybody.
Mr. A: I work on the island, so I have to be up as early as 4am in order to get to the office on time. This is due to the quest to beat traffic. Also, after close of work, I have to face traffic and I get home late. This happens to us all in this compound.
Me: Oh, now I get, this is really stressful.
Why am I telling all these stories? Because I feel for such people. How do they balance family life? How do their children cope especially if they are still very young? Isn't it too stressful? But they must feed their families and cater for their needs So what can be done?
Here is my recommendation. Some workers should be remote workers in Lagos.Technology has made work easy. So at least workers should do their jobs two days in a week from home. Policies should be made in companies to help foster this practice of remote working.
In cases where this is not applicable, they should run shifts. Lagos alone can be depressing because of stress. The welfare of workers should be considered especially those who live on the mainland and work on the island. After all, our President decided to work from home. If a President can work from home with his heavy schedule and many duties, others too can. Especially, if the job is not manual and can be done online. Selah!
But there is just something beautiful about Lagos, its just like a copied assignment; you can't explain it.
Eko ni ba je o.
Kindly recommend if you enjoyed this story!