Insane Traffic Leaving Lagos, Nigeria

When we arrived at our hotel last night, our expectation was that we would be four hours from the border (Google said three). We could visit Makoko in the morning and be across the border to Benin before nightfall. The night clerk at the hotel told us that with traffic, there was no way. It would take eight hours if not more, to reach the border. Ughh!!!

Since I wasn’t willing to miss Makoko, we left Lagos at 1 p.m. and hoped for the best. The traffic was insane!!! While driving along, we were stopped by some locals who told us we needed to switch to the “express lanes” (the term I’m using for the left lane with a median protecting it)—and, for the advice, we had to pay them money. We switched lanes and relied on a local military official’s timing to avoid the fee, as he informed the locals that, while they could charge a fee, they couldn’t slow the traffic flow, and it was building up.

Traffic was moving along for the first 15 minutes, and we were smug watching the parking lot of traffic on the right we were passing. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. It wasn’t long before, we too, were parked. We waited 30 minutes. At some point, we heard a broken-down truck in our single, median-bound lane. Hmmm!!! Since we can’t get over the median—even with Codiwompler—and no one can come down the lane to rescue, we are going to be here a while. We inched forward. Eventually, we could see that cars were being lifted over a dip in the height of the median and a drainage gutter—for a fee.

At that point, cars were reversing up the lane and then taking turns to exit. Of course, at 5 tons, it was doubtful our car would be lifted. However, when we arrived, we realized that, with the slight ramp of dirt and brush, we could probably jump the curb. Benjamin exited the car and helped navigate. We jumped the curb and drainage gutter, and we were back in the right lane, which was now empty because of a block earlier. Oh, the blessing of having such a capable car!

As we drove on, we passed more and more gridlocked traffic. It was crazy. I question whether it would end by nightfall. And how many cars would run out of fuel in the process, exacerbating the parking lot traffic problem even more? Nigeria is so broken.

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