Have you ever been robbed in traffic? I have. – Peju Akande

Have you ever been robbed in traffic? I have. – Peju Akande

I’ve been robbed in traffic.
And five years after, I still live in trauma from that nasty experience.
It doesn’t help that since then, I have seen other people being robbed in traffic.
Now, when I see, do I wind my glass down to shout ‘Ole!’, in order to scare the living lights off the thief?
Instead, I cower behind the wheel with my heart pounding. I watch paralysed with fear at the sight of a grown man behind the wheel being stabbed repeatedly by a crazed robber intent on making away with the man’s wrist watch.
I saw another grown man shrink in his driver’s seat as we watched the spectacle of gore play out before our eyes in traffic. We all looked furtively about us; perhaps a police man would stroll by, you know, miracles can happen.
No police.
The driver under attack struggled to fend off the robber and looked around to find somewhere to squeeze his car in, as if that would prevent the robber’s further attack.
Or maybe he wasn’t even looking to escape, seeing how such a tight traffic we all were locked in.
Maybe he was looking to us, his fellow motorists for help.
But we, the other drivers, motorists, all avoided him like he has ebola; instead we wove around him, suddenly we became James Bond in a tight car chase role. We maneuvered, we rolled the wheel this way and that way. We accelerated and cursed the decision to ply that route that day.
We the frightened versions of 007 wanted to disappear from the road as more and more of the robbers crossed from the other side of the express to join the growing horde that were making a kill off stranded motorists.

We watched as the robbers, some masquerading as hawkers patrolled between vehicles, selecting their victims and going for them. They didn’t spare the tanker drivers, either, they climbed the driver’s side and repeatedly bashed at the glass until it gave way.
We watched as they surrounded one tanker, they came from both sides, they demanded money, they got it, they demanded more money. We looked away not wanting them to catch us watching.

I managed to inch away from the first driver who was being stabbed, I heard him honking his horn to attract the rest of us for help.
He didn’t know we knew he was being robbed. He didn’t realise we chose not to help because we were afraid. He didn’t know we were all praying not to attract the attention of the other robbers striding like rogue princes between vehicles in a traffic that defied reason.
Did I tell you I also watched as the female driver in front of me in traffic had her glasses removed by some crazy rogue.
Yes, her eye glasses; recommended specs, I’ll guess, removed from her nose and placed on the median, uh huh, by the thief, of course!
Did I get down to help her?
I simply looked frantically around for a small space to squeeze out my car and speed off like mad!
And oh, I remember calling out, ‘Don’t go for the glasses, keep moving!’
Did she hear me? Recall, I said I sped off.

I feel shame when I recall these incidents, especially when I read of recent attacks in traffic, particularly with the Oshodi construction generated traffic. Two stories recalled lack of help from other motorists.
Are we so callous?
Why don’t we have heroes and heroines amongst us?
They die too soon and they die unsung.

But really, the shame shouldn’t be mine or anyone who feels bad at not helping. The shame belongs to a government that fails to protects its citizens.
Question: Why would area boys descend so vilely and constantly on civil society?
Answer: Because they’re are no police checks.

There are no cctv’s, no data, no assurance that even when the criminals are arrested, justice would be done.
We should demand for more security.
We should demand for more police presence on our streets, communities and roads.
We should demand of government a right to protection of lives and property.
It’s our right!

Passing information on Whatsapp about the dangers in a particular area is good but demanding that our representatives sit up and do the real work of governance is most important and this isn’t the job for one of us, it is for all of us!
2019 is upon us and politicians will soon be canvassing for positions. It’s time to stand up and make the right demands; until they do something for us, we won’t give them our votes, again!

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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