Lagos is such an interesting city to live in despite its stressful nature.
And if you are not yet with a car in this city, there is a certain level of drama you cannot escape – the whole bus stop, conductor, and traffic wahala.
Agberos (literally translated means carrier of passengers) are like major area boys. You’d find them in almost every bus stop. I honestly don’t know how best to describe them. Lol. Don’t worry, if you don’t live in Lagos, you’d get the drift as you read on.
Waka means to go…. Waka or Stay came from my childhood dictionary. Whenever we go for birthday parties and there’s a dancing competition, when the round is over, the MC or commentator would raise the hands of each of the competitors and shout “waka or stay?” Then the audience would respond depending on how the person performed. The one whose ‘waka’ was louder than the ‘stay’ gets to go and vice versa.
People like me… once they raise my hand, I don’t even wait for the deafening ‘waka’, I just start moving towards my seat and then the ‘waka’ would escort me.
Summary – I can’t dance to save Nigeria.
I believe now you are getting an idea of where this post is going… basically, In this post, we’d be looking at the pros and cons of agberos (area boys). In Lagos, these guys are in almost every bus stop. I’m going to be sincere, a lot of times, they just really constitute a nuisance. But I am also going to share with you in this post times when I thought they were adding real value to the community and then we’d weigh it together.
Yassss! So let’s go on –
- Earlier in the year, I was working from an office on the Island. As I was bus-ing/keke-ing it, my route required me getting to Obalende and then getting to Eko Hotels area via a keke.
PS: keke is the local name for tricycle, a common means of transportation in Lagos.
Most mornings, especially Monday, it is always war… too many people at the bus stop and say one keke showing up every five minutes.
PPS: A keke can only take four people excluding the driver.
Once the case is like this, these agberos, a few of them organize people in queues and then direct the kekes going in that direction to the queue. They also pretty much ensure people don’t jump the queue. These guys really don’t mind your suit or wig size, they’ll send you to the back. After seeing the biceps and read eyes of some, you’d respect yourself and go to the back.
I think preference is given to students in uniform though.
This for me is adding value. Someone like me would never be able to fight for transport. I’ll just keep standing there till people thin out or I somehow get to enter one. I recall one time few weeks after returning from NYSC when I tried to form jagaban, the handle of my handbag was cut. And I was so fortunate that my properties were not stolen. Since then, I respect myself and wait.
- They are also useful for the drivers themselves at the park. Depending on how traffic flows on that route, some buses/kekes end up waiting for long period of time before the get to make a trip. They basically help organize them (taking turns, ticket number and all that) so that everyone gets a fair chance. Also, some drivers do not have conductors. So they help them call passengers and ensure they get filled in time.
The flip side.
- These guys can be extremely unruly! They run after vehicles just to collect money, some jumping off when the vehicle is moving already, risking their lives. They clutter the bus stops and frustrate the drivers. Most times, they keep collecting money from the drivers repeatedly in a day and that can be overbearing for the drivers.
On top of all that, someAgberos can be so disorganized and cunny that a driver may have paid the ‘full dues’ only to get to the next bus stop and be harassed by another Agbero who doesn’t know the driver has paid before. Is this even making sense?!
The point is that they extort drivers and can even get violent (removing their car parts by force) if they don’t have their way.
- Their drama cascades down to even the passengers because they keep wasting people’s time and would not let go unless they have their way.
My opinion: Maybe it should be more regulated with a limit. Like there is no need for this many agberos in Lagos. They could use a uniform (like some group of agberos already do) to mark out the legit ones and all.
Truth is the police, lastma can’t do it all.
An agbero legit saved me from getting lost one day, and that is some sort of value.
I really don’t know guys if their value compensates for the drama they constitute in this Lagos. But then someone once said scrapping them is going to increase crime rate. I know the story of a young graduate that was an agbero for a while, because no job.
What do you guys think? Should the agberos stay or go? Do you have any experiences we can learn from or laugh about or just any you’d like to share? Let’s chat in the comment area…
Y’all already know how your comments make me so happy 🙂
Thanks for the read.