Nigeria’s idea of mass transportation, for the world to see, thanks to Google Doodle- Tola Adenle

October 1, 2014


Google’s Home Page (Nigeria) salutes Nigeria on the country’s national day, October 1.


The 14-passenger vans, re-tooled by way-side outfits to carry 18 jam-packed Nigerians who sit arm to arm, sweating, often looking dazed and sad, are – with their three-wheeled poorer cousins – Keke Napep,and their wretched cousin, Okada on Google’s  Home Page represent apt metaphor for the sorry Nigeria has arrived at.

While every aspect of infrastructure seems to be in very sorry state, the state of public transportation is very telling about a country led by politicians at “federal”, state and local levels who have nothing but disdain for the country’s long-suffering citizens they “lead”.

Public transportation is non-existent in Nigeria.

Into that void have stepped in these countless vans and tricycles (Keke NAPEP) and motorcycles okada, , thousands of which clog the inadequate pot holed-riddled roads in every town and city, each bus carrying at most 18 passengers where municipal buses would carry many times that

While Google’s possibly well-intentioned depiction of Nigeria may even attract, it represents the shame of a country that seems bent on never ascending to nationhood.

There is not a single city or town in Nigeria that has a public transit system that can function for more than a small town like the illustrated van, the tricycle and the motorcycle above. Trains are non-existent even as inter-city means of transportation although these once linked the south and north fairly well.

What happened? They disappeared under the weight of corruption of the leadership who stole the railway system dry just as a Nigerian Airways which took to air about the same time with Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and other airlines that have since gone on to become big players in international airline travels – is now long gone. Ditto a once admired and proud National Shipping Lines.

In each of the above cases, those who managed the companies became very wealthy individuals many of who parlayed the wealth to large political roles.

Once the rails were stolen out of existence, it became the turn of the biggies and wizkids of Nigeria’s commercial core to ensure that trains never ply whatever remains of Nigerian rails ever again. How? Clog the roads everywhere – from highways to city roadsides with 18-wheelers that often line miles-long stretches of highway roads.

Public transportation? Just non-existent except, perhaps in Lagos where some public buses by the state government help alleviate, even though just a little, the suffering of the masses.

Except in the city of Lagos where the motorcycle Nigerian-style mass transit method has been banned because of the great danger they pose to road users, these motorcycles, named okada after a private airline that has gone to rest, are operated by young men in EVERY VILLAGE, TOWN AND CITY in Nigeria where they can be seen ferrying up to five passengers! I understand that they have been reduced to the lowly status of carrying only a passenger in the wake of ebola outbreak to prevent people sitting close to each other.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014. 7:45 p.m. [GMT]

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