Uber, Danfo, Ke-ke and Okada in one day.
“My first weekend in Yaba”
The flight was pretty much straightforward: no delays and Customs agent were not having a bad day.
Welcome to the Lagos. It is on a Friday, 27 degrees. Weather is welcoming despite slight drizzles around the airport, people welcoming, The city is welcoming.
My co-founder, Prince, was here a week earlier making it 2/3rds of the founding team in Lagos. Our startup is now in full gear to launch in Lagos. I went to Chefvys for dinner about 5:00pm; the rice tasted different than what I’m used to but it was good. Even the Pepsi bottle was slightly bigger and cheaper than what I was used to.
On Saturday, my cofounder and I decided to go see my apartment, which is close to University of Lagos (UNILAG), Yaba. So this is where my transportation story of this fast-paced, slow-traffic, hustling-city begins…
All streets were empty; simply no cars!
Apparently, It was the last Saturday of the month and I found out that it was “sanitation day” (a dedicated day for cleaning the city’s environs). Vehicles can only come out at 10:00 am.
We could finally order an Uber after several unsuccessful attempts and the driver got in touch telling us he would only move to us after 10.
The ride was great and the price was 1850 Naira (approx. $6) though Uber billed us for N1,000 for a cancellation from their end.
As a new resident, I was aided by my Housemate and cofounder to go look for a mattress. My apartment buddy’s friend was kind enough to drive us around in his SUV and one thing I noticed was drivers can stop in the middle of the road and do their own thing and the other road users seemed not so bordered. Most shops weren’t open around noon. We prospected, haggled and after circling Yaba for about an hour, we found a shop owner (his shop was closed but his phone line was accessible) who would deliver a mattress to us.
After going to setup in my apartment, my co-founder and I went on a food hunt. That was our first encounter with a Danfo. A yellow minibus with wooden seats, mostly rude conductors screaming out destinations and drivers always in hurry; Thats a Danfo. Bus conductor got furious because I was giving him a N500 note for a fair that cost N100. Apparently, “change” is a big deal around this parts of town.
Having lower denominations of the currency could sometimes be your bargaining chip for transactions less than N1000.
“How much is the cost from here to that bus-stop?”
“The price na 300 naira”.
“I would pay 150”
“You get change?”
“Oya bring come”
Thats how the conversation regularly goes when picking some forms of public transport especially the Okada. The operator would on a regular day adamantly stick to N250 or N200 if he had change.
After brunch, our curiosity landed us a in another yellow lagos vehicle: The tricycle called Keke (pronounced care-care). It was N50 (or 50 box like the younger Nigerians would put it) per person for a defined destination. A bad pothole and you risk falling off the sides of one but that rarely occurs I heard. Ride was a fun experience and it tops my favorite list of ways of getting around in Lagos.
After some roaming and getting dinner at our newly found food place (White house) in Yaba, recommended by my apartment buddy; the rains was in full swing and my unsuccessful attempts to book an Uber that evening around 9:10pm led me to Sabo bus-stop. It was dark, rains and water everywhere, everyone in a hurry to escape the rains. I was disoriented at this tee-junction so I decided to hop onto a motorbike because it presented the most tailored form of movement at the time. The infamous Okada of lagos. The winds weren’t friendly, the rain getting heavier, no lights anywhere, water spilling over drains and buses driving at speeds that makes the splashing inevitable. This was the most unexciting time to be on a fast moving Okada.
I arrived at my destination soaked from the experiences of the day and lots or water. It was exhilarating, eye opening and tiring all at once. I guess Lagos never disappoints a curious visitor. Multiple ways to move through the city via public transport almost feels like an analogy for the multiple opportunities this cosmopolitan city presents.
When next you are in Lagos, commute with any of these means of transport and you would love the experience.