Health and Safety a la Nigeria

I don’t know whether the term jincheng means anything to any of you, but if it does you know that they – even for motorcycles – are not the … how to put it: I’d say with a bit of squeezing and a stable luggage thingy there is just about enough space for the driver and two adult passengers – and these two are better in good terms because that is the closest you’ll get to anybody here in public, in fact even at home somebody sooner or later would ask you to get a room if you really want that much body contact.
But this being Nigeria – and the health and safety standards my WEA tutors hammered into me during last year’s teaching course simply don’t apply here – some parents actually manage to pick up five primary school children with a bike like this. Just so you get it right: That’s two children in front, the adult driver, three kids clinging to each other (the last one to the luggage thingy as well) behind him, and a couple of schoolbags hanging down at the side. And now don’t be fooled into thinking that I’ve seen this on a quite neighbourhood street where traffic goes slow (and even there would be bumps that make me to hold on tightly to the luggage thingy in order not to fall off the bike). No, BUK road does by no means qualify as such, at this particular time of the day its closer to an express way in character. In fact, daddy (?) was apparently in such a hurry that he still had to overtake my already speeding achaba driver!
Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen people transporting five or so mattresses (on end on the passenger’s head who’s holding them and the driver balancing the other end), goats (actually, I’ve seen some poor goats tied onto the roof of a VW-bus on the highway between Maiduguri and Kano) and whole pieces of furniture (an office desk) on those bikes; bus conductors are routinely hanging outside the door if the bus is full (or just the men’s section if they don’t put men and women together) … you get the point, but hey, come on, hold on for a sec and think that this is not just about your own adult life but also that of those kids!!! Or do you really have so many that one falling off the bike doesn’t really matter?!? – Sorry for getting cynical.
(No photos unfortunately of either as each time I was either myself on a bike or in a care too squeezed in to pull out my camera. So you’ll just have to believe me.)


Popular posts from this blog

'Portraits' of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio

First Impressions: Contemporary Photography in Nigeria

Popular Portraits of Sheikh Ahmad Tijani - Another Little (Procrastination) Gem