Let me tell you a true story. Something that got me saying “Ha’an, but Ibadan, you are bigger than this na” As in, you should have passed this level by now. Anyway, my story goes thus;
I was going home from school one fateful day. I had just arrived in Ibadan, So, it was my first time of using the public transport.
I stopped a cab and there were four passengers sitting at the back. Packed like sardines. No one was in the front. I was like “What? When the front seat is free, why are they struggling at the back?” I was happy sha. I was going to have a comfortable ride back home, I entered the cab, buckled my seat belt like the good law abiding Nigerian I am and took out my phone to while away the time. After a short drive, the driver stopped. I expected a passenger to drop off, so we could be on the move. Until the driver was like “Alhaja (since everybody who wears a scarf in Ibadan is Alhaja), Please, remove your seat belt. And shift.” A passenger was already opening the front door to sit down with me. I was shocked. I was at a loss for words. I gingerly moved over and watched as the passenger moved me even more inward until I was sitting on the gear. I had to lift my butt off whenever the driver wanted to use the gear, which was almost all the time. Suffice it to say, I was uncomfortable. I prayed to reach my destination quickly. By the way, my prayer was not answered. Because, suddenly my destination became too far. Anyway, When I eventually got to my destination, I watched as the driver picked someone else up in my place and happily drove away. And then, I shook my head.
I know some people may think I am exaggerating. But this is a problem. It is a crime, obviously, and it is a public health issue.
Safety on the roads is very important. Because driving carries with it a lot of risks. Major risks. That is why there are rules. To ensure that when you are on the road, you are not only safe and secure, but you are not a danger to others as well.
There is a reason seat belts are enforced. Especially for those who seat in the fronts. Seat belts are important because those who use seat belts are less likely to have severe injuries when there is an accident. Seat belts protect you during accidents. They protect your spinal cord and your brain during a sudden collision. They reduce the impact of the accidents on your shoulders and your upper body by keeping you in place. Seat belts are a form of protection, not a form of punishment. Since there are two people in the front, not wearing a seat belt, the ramification is that, not only is there an increased chance of having a more severe injury, there are now more people exposed to that severity. Am I making sense?
Now, since I came to Ibadan, I have only seen road safety officials on the road a handful of times. And those times, they seem to not see what is going on. The one time we were stopped, the driver just smiled and was like’ Mummy, Ejoo. Sorry”. And she just allowed him to pass. She didn’t say “Fine. I will let you go, but one person should go to the back. And the person in the front should use a seat belt.” She just let him pass. No warning, nothing. That means, there is weak enforcement of traffic laws in Ibadan. After seeing that, guess what I did. I shook my head.
If the road safety officials decide to strictly enforce the traffic rules, this habit will change. When they start collecting car keys of the drivers and letting them stew in their cars for two hours. This habit will change.
But with the way things are right now, I know, I will keep shaking my head for a long while. But again, I must repeat “Ha’an, Ibadan, you are better than this na.”